The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world and is on the bucket list for many people.
The Great Barrier Reef is a remarkable and beautiful natural landmark off the coast of north east Queensland. The reef is over 2300 kilometres long with over 2900 individual reefs and about 900 islands.
What to do
There are many ways to explore and see the stunning Great Barrier Reef’s outer reefs. You can spend a full day or even weeks seeing this natural wonder of the world exploring underwater, on a boat or from a bird’s eye view.
Snorkelling is a very popular activity people do when visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelling allows you to look below you and spot the tropical fish, the colourful coral swaying, and other sea creatures. When you book a tour, there is a brief introductory class before you set off to a reef to snorkel on your own.
Scuba diving allows you to go deeper into the water and swim along with any of the sea creatures you see. There are tours available which include a complimentary scuba dive, or you can include one at your own cost. On the tours, you can be a beginner and have a brief introduction class or you can be a certified diver.
Helmet diving allows you to walk along the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef on the seabed. Watch as all the sea creatures swim by you as you walk by the colourful coral.
Helmet diving is available on some Great Barrier Reef tours so make sure you book it the experience during your next visit.
Glass bottom boat
If you prefer to not get in the water, the glass bottom boat is the best way for you to still see everything the Great Barrier Reef has to offer. Either go on the glass bottom boat and watch the marine life below you or go in a semi submarine and watch how incredible life is underwater.
You can choose to go in a helicopter or a seaplane and get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful glistening blue water. On the flight, you see the different shades of blue, beautiful golden or white beaches, and the lush green hills on the mainland. On some scenic flights, you can see Heart Reef, which is as you guessed it, shaped like a heart!
What outer reefs are there
The Great Barrier Reef has many outer reefs where guided tours will often visit the popular ones. The outer reefs will grow from the ocean floor up and have better visibility which makes diving and snorkelling a lot easier.
Norman Reef is a popular outer reef due to the clear water which allows snorkelling and diving to be easier. Quite often divers will want to visit Norman Reef while on a tour as this reef is one of the best for diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
Saxon Reef is one of the most visited reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. The reef has a great collection of coral and marine life.
Hastings Reef is perfect for snorkelling as it’s a shallow reef with heaps of tropical fish and even larger sea creatures to spot. Hastings Reef is also shaped as a horseshoe!
What marine life to see
The outer reefs consist of some of the most thrilling marine life to see. There are over 9000 known species that call the Great Barrier Reef home, you can only imagine what you can see! From the vibrant tropical fish to sharks and turtles.
Sea turtles are one of the most sought after marine creatures to spot in the Great Barrier Reef. The green sea turtles are one of the most common sea turtles you can see gliding through the outer reefs.
There are 180 species of sharks that live on the Great Barrier Reef, but the white tip reef shark is the most common on the outer reefs. There is no need to fear these types of reef sharks as they won’t be aggressive unless provoked.
Some of the outer reefs often have stingrays that fly through the waters. You’ll be lucky enough to see them sitting at the bottom of the reefs and are only together during breeding or when they migrate.
A favourite fish among the crew is the clown fish, also known as Nemo. But there are plenty of other interesting fish from parrotfish, angelfish, and the giant humphead Maori wrasse.
Whales are usually only spotted during winter when they migrate. You will often see minke whales and humpback whales migrating to the warmer waters in June through to September.
You can spot dolphins all year round at the Great Barrier Reef. Different types of dolphins swim through the Great Barrier Reef, with the spinner dolphins being the most common on the outer reefs. The spinner dolphins travel in large groups and love to jump and spin out of the water.
A dugong is a large marine mammal that lives in the Great Barrier Reef and can eat up to 30 kilograms of seagrass each day! A dugong prefers to keep to themselves, but you can sometimes see them in pairs.