No matter how many documentaries you’ve seen or how much it has been hyped up by everyone you’ve spoken to, once you’ve taken your first look into the world’s biggest aquarium, it is waaaay better than expected.


“A genuine wonder.”
– George Negus

The vivid colours, subtle movements and interactions between the many life forms are utterly mesmerising. Not surprising, really, as the reef boasts dugongs and green turtles, a large variety of dolphins and whales, more than 1500 species of fish, 4000 types of mollusc, and more than 200 species of bird.

“There’s no way around it. You’ve not experienced Australia until you’ve seen the Great Barrier Reef from below. The wreck of the Yongala and those friendly potato cod at the Codhole may be the reef’s two most popular diving attractions, but once you’re down there it’s obvious why they top the diving hit parade. These are spectacular dives.”
– Tony Wheeler

The best way to explore the reef is by diving right in (there are numerous tour operators that provide diving trips, courses and snorkelling opportunities). If that’s not your cup of tea, take a cruise or a scenic flight and you’ll be assured of an amazing experience all the same.

Did you know?
The Great Barrier Reef, stretching more than 2300km along the northeast coast of Australia from the northern tip of Queensland to just north of Bundaberg, is the single largest structure made out of living creatures on Earth.

How to get there
Gateways to the reef are varied, from Cairns in the north to many ports further south – the reef is, after all, 2,000 kilometers long. We suggest you decide how you want to see the reef, and that will determine where your starting point will be.

Best time to go
Any time of the year.

Further information
Useful websites:


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An excellent guide to the reef, how it was formed, tourism operators on the reef, dangers when visiting the reef and so on. Well worth a visit.
Website for the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns. Lots of holiday ideas and contacts. Has a good holiday planner you can download.
The Great Barrier Reef Visitors Bureau – host of accommodation and cruising options.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is the principal adviser to the Commonwealth Government on the care and development of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.

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