Great Barrier Reef tours depart daily from Cairns.

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.

In 1981, the Great Barrier Reef became a World Heritage Site.  American media company CNN labelled the Great Barrier Reef as one of the world’s seven natural wonders.

The Queensland National Trust has also given it the title of the official icon for Queensland.

Today the  Great Barrier Reef is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Visiting the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns

An array of Great Barrier Reef tours depart daily from Cairns.

Which Great Barrier Reef Tour is best?

There is a host of fantastic tours that depart Cairns daily.  Finding the best time for you depends on you.

People with young children may find Green Island with sandy beaches the best.  While people looking for a night dive will steer towards a liveaboard tour on a floating hotel.

People who would like to see the Reef without getting wet are best suited to a reef pontoon.  At the same time, people who want to be in the water scuba diving and snorkelling may find the all-inclusive Reef Experience best.

When people who are not confident in the water want to experience the Great Barrier Reef, we will always put them on a boat where the crew are exceptional and will assist them in swimming.

People who want to learn about the Reef while on the Reef should choose a tour with a marine biologist onboard.

There are upmarket options for a more relaxed day.

Great Barrier Reef History

For thousands of years, the Great Barrier Reef has been home to the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.  It is an integral part of their culture, belief systems and spirituality.

As can be expected, the Reef is also a must-see location for tourists, especially in the Cairns region.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef generates more than one billion dollars each year.  Tourism is the main economic activity for this area.

Dolphins and Whales

This region supports a great diversity of life, including many endangered species, 30 whales, dolphins, and porpoises recorded in the Great Barrier Reef.

Some of these include large dugongs, the dwarf minke whale, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whales.   More than 1,500 species of that life are on the Great Barrier Reef, including the clown-fish, red bass, red-throat emperor, and coral trout and snapper.

Seventeen species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef in warm waters of up to 50 metres deep.  Sea snakes are much more common in the southern area of the Reef than in its northern section.

Turtles

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 the olive ridley turtle.

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

Fortunately, there are also 15 species of sea-grass beds attracting both dugongs and turtles, also providing habitat for the fish.

Sharks

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.

Mollusc

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.

 Birdlife

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

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.

While in Cairns, visit Palm Cove for tropical lunches days on the beach.