Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Australia.

  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • Great Barrier Reef day tours
  • When to visit
  • Best ways to visit
  • Great Barrier Reef facts

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most incredible destinations in the World, and Cairns is the perfect gateway to explore its beauty. From its stunning coral formations to its diverse marine life, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-visit destination for any traveller.

This article will provide all the information you need to plan your trip to Cairns and explore the Great Barrier Reef like a pro. We’ve covered you from the best time to visit the most exciting activities.

Why Cairns Is the Perfect Destination for Exploring the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is a vibrant city located in the north of Queensland, Australia. It is known for its tropical climate, stunning beaches, and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is the perfect starting point for your Great Barrier Reef adventure, as it offers various accommodation options, restaurants, and tour operators.

When to Visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

The best time to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef is from June to October when the weather is dry and sunny. During these months, the visibility is excellent, and the water is warm, making it ideal for swimming, snorkelling, and diving. However, remember that this is also the peak tourist season, so expect higher prices and more crowded places.

If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef in the shoulder season (April to May or November to December). Although the weather can be unpredictable, you can still enjoy the Reef’s beauty without the crowds.

The best Great Barrier Reef day tours


The Best Ways to Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Depending on your interests and budget, there are several ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns. Here are some of the most popular options:

  1. Snorkelling Tours: Snorkeling is a fantastic way to explore the Great Barrier Reef, even if you are not a certified diver. Most tour operators offer half-day and full-day snorkelling tours, which include all the necessary equipment, such as masks, fins, and snorkels.
  2. Diving Tours: If you are a certified diver, you can explore the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater World with a diving tour. Several dive sites range from shallow coral gardens to deep walls and caves.
  3. Helicopter Tours: Consider taking a scenic helicopter tour for a unique perspective of the Great Barrier Reef. You can admire the Reef’s vastness and beauty from above and take stunning aerial photos.
  4. Glass-Bottom Boat Tours: A glass-bottom boat tour is an excellent option if you prefer to stay dry while still seeing the Reef’s marine life. You can observe the Reef’s colourful corals and fish without getting wet.
  5. Island Hopping: If you have more time in Cairns, consider an island hopping tour. You can visit several islands in the Great Barrier Reef, each with unique charm and beauty.

Where to Stay in Cairns

Cairns offers various accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. Here are some of our top picks:


Great Barrier Reef Cairns offers fantastic day and overnight tours.

A whole range of fantastic tours of Cairns Great Barrier Reef tours is on offer to explore one of the seven natural wonders of the World.

Great Barrier Reef facts

  • The Great Barrier Reef is Earth’s most extensive coral Reef system.
  • More than 2,900 reefs, 900 islands and sand cays make up the Great Barrier Reef.
  • This Reef covers an area of 344,400 square kilometres.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is a natural beauty treasured in Australia and worldwide.
  • Located in the Coral Sea off Tropical North Queensland, Australia.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is visible from outer space.
  • It is the largest single structure created by living organisms.
  • The Great Barrier Reef comprises billions upon billions of tiny organisms known as coral polyps supporting a staggering array of diverse life.



At certain parts of the year, six different sea turtles come to the Reef to breed.  This group includes the green sea Turtle, leatherback sea Turtle, hawksbill Turtle, loggerhead sea Turtle, flat-back Turtle and olive ridley Turtle.

Green sea turtles on the Great Barrier Reef have two genetically distinct populations, one located in the northern part of the Reef and the other in the southern.  Sea turtles frequently visit the Cairns’ outer barrier Reef locations and Green Island.

Fortunately, 15 species of sea-grass beds also attract dugongs and turtles and provide fish habitat.

Sharks and Rays

The Great Barrier Reef is also home to some of the predators of the ocean world.

One hundred twenty-five sharks, stingrays and chimaera live on the Reef.   At night scuba divers are eager to see sharks during the night dive.


Five thousand mollusc species live on the Reef,  including the giant clam.   Snorkellers and divers can see nudibranchs of all different colours along the Reef.


Two hundred fifteen birds visit the Great Barrier Reef and regularly nest on some islands.

Namely, the white-bellied sea eagle, one of the 1.7 million birds, comes to the area to use the sites for breeding.

Fauna of the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef islands support 2,195 types of known species of plants.

The southern islands, particularly the Whitsunday Islands region, are the most diverse, supporting 1,141 species propagated by birds.