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Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef

Listed under Snorkelling in Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

  • Photo of Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef
  • Photo of Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef
Photo of Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef
Photo by flickr user diongillard
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The Great Barrier Reef is appropriately described by superlatives. It's the largest organic structure ever created on the planet. At 1250 miles long, it's easily viewed from outer space, and its broad frontiers encompass one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems. Roughly 400 species of coral provide habitat for over 1500 varieties of fish and several thousand invertebrate species. It's also the largest of 144 World Heritage Sites, and as one of the oldest and most refined marine parks, has benefited from over twenty years of protection and management.

The reef is as diverse as it is grand and any attempt to summarize its vast diversity and wealth wouldn’t do it justice. Because of its distance from shore, it is difficult, but not impossible for independent travelers to access the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkelers can visit the reef in several ways.

1) There are numerous live aboards, many of which hail out of Cairns and Port Douglas, but most of these cater to divers rather than snorkelers.

2) Many casual visitors to the Great Barrier Reef elect to experience a day or two of snorkeling on the large day boats that also operate out of Cairns and Port Douglas. Although this option does get you technically into Great Barrier Reef water, and although the transit boats are fast, you are generally traveling with large groups of people and the actual time in the water is fairly limited.

3) Perhaps a more dedicated and rewarding option is to spend a few days at the exclusive (very expensive) Lizard Island resort, the rather upscale resort on Heron Island, or the moderately-positioned resort on Lady Elliot Island. The more adventurous snorkeler can also find a few campsites on Lizard Island that offer neither water, food nor power, and are priced accordingly. Each of these locations offer shore snorkeling which includes sandy beach terrain, shallow patch reef with robust stands of various branching and table corals that harbor many fish and invertebrates. These start just a few inches beneath the water's surface. There is also the option, which I would recommend, to take boats provided daily by the resorts if you wish to explore further afield.

Written by  Joel Simon.

Other expert and press reviews

“Feeling blue? Sign up for the good life in Queensland”

By Oliver Duff for The Independent. First published 17th January 2009. ...Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef is a revelation: one inch below the surface there swirls another world, one of towering coral castles and forests, gardens of giant clams po… Read more...

Written by press. See the full article in The Independent, 18th January 2009.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

One of the best ways to see this reef is by staying overnight on one of the boats that go out there. Check out Air Whitsundays who have seaplanes that take you out there.

three day forecast for snorkelling?

Could you please tell me what the temperature, wind speed and wave sizes would be for snorkelling over the Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas around the beginning of July?

I will be up that way from the 29th June through to the 5th July.

Thanking you for your time.


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