Things to Do Near the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world’s largest coral reef system and is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The area offers some of the best maritime activities with the abundance of coral cays and fish species. If you are headed to the Great Barrier Reef, look for a rented cabin or house on one of the surrounding islands or towns. It will be important to come back to these luxurious accommodations after a day of water exploration.

By Matt Pruys

By air

If you are looking to splurge a little bit and do not have much time for diving adventures, you can still enjoy the fantastic views of the Great Barrier Reef. Helicopter and seaplane tours are available for smaller groups. Plane adventures do not take much time and some popular visited spots include Airlie Beach, the city of Cairns and Green Island.

Multiple day sailing trips

For a scenic and picturesque adventure in the water, a sailing excursion that lasts a few days will provide unforgettable memories. Airlie Beach is a dock from which many of the sailing charters embark. You can rent boats of different sizes, depending on how many are in your party. It is also possible to join a sailboat charter which brings together various groups of people on a two or three night adventure. In fact, some trips even last up to 12 days. They come equipped with a full kitchen staff so you do not have to worry about breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Getting in the water with snorkel and dive gear is probably the best way to experience the exquisite barrier reef and its sea life. The various tropical fish and corals of the Great Barrier Reef are unmatched anywhere in the world.

Many of the sailing trips which take place in the Great Barrier Reef are meant for snorkeling and diving adventures. They stop about three or four times a day so passengers can explore underwater and visit secluded parts of the reef. The staff will have all the gear necessary for you to go snorkeling. Some excursions even offer nighttime diving to view nocturnal life underwater.

Boat excursions

If you do not want to commit multiple days to a sailing trip but still want the chance to go out on the water, consider a day excursion. They leave from multiple locations around the coast and guests can still snorkel or dive their way through the water for a few hours. The city of Cairns offers several options for day boat trips. You will have the chance to visit a few different popular dive locations before heading back to the mainland. Boat trips for the day are far less expensive than overnight options and will include lunch or dinner and the necessary equipment.

Reef walking

If you are not a fan of boats, airplanes or swimming, fear not because there is one last way to explore one of the wonders of the world. Join a walking guided tour of the reef where you can still learn about ocean life and witness the various species which call the barrier home. Some of the areas in The Great Barrier Reef experience low tides which make walking on top of them possible. Your guide will ensure your safety and help you understand how different fish and sea based creatures function.
Some tips on protecting the reef on your walk:

  • Take all trash with you back to the mainland
  • Sunscreen can damage the reef so opt for a wetsuit
  • Do not disturb the marine life by flapping your fins around them


Great Barrier Reef Accommodation