Whilst many of the reef’s attractions are submerged, there are plenty more above sea level including the fabulous Whitsundays, a 74-island chain surrounded by sheltered waters ideal for sailing. Most visitors here fly directly into Hamilton Island, which is dotted with resorts, restaurants and shops. Most of the Whitsundays’ other properties occupy an entire island or cover a significant portion of it. To get different perspectives of the reef, stay at different resorts or island-hop via catamaran or sea plane.
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Snorkel or dive the teeming Agincourt Reef or admire the Great Barrier Reef’s heft by helicopter. Play a round of golf at Hamilton Island Golf Course, trek up to Passage Peak or sail to flawless Whitehaven Beach, renowned for its pure white sands. Befriend a colossal Maori Wrasse or 150-kilo potato cod at Cod Hole, kayak the azure waters around Shute Harbour or fly over comely Heart Reef.
- The Great Barrier Reef, the only living thing on Earth visible from space
- Unparalleled snorkelling
- Opportunities for thrilling scenic flights and helicopter trips
- Blinding white sand beaches such as Whitehaven Beach
- The idyllic tropical Whitsunday Islands
- Photogenic Hardy Lagoon and Heart Reef
- Classy holiday retreats on Hamilton, Hayman and Lizard islands
- Sea turtles, giant clams, Maori wrasse and potato cod
- More than 1,500 fish and 400 coral species
- World-famous dive sites such as Cod Hole
Accommodation – The Great Barrier Reef
Suggested Tours Featuring the Great Barrier Reef
Most travellers get to the Great Barrier Reef via Cairns, whose airport is serviced by regular flights from all Australian capital cities. Private charters operate out of the terminal, to resorts such as Lizard Island. From Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, you can fly direct to the Whitsundays’ Hamilton Island Airport, from where you meet an onward road, launch, helicopter or sea plane connection to your Whitsunday island resort.
The mainland attractions of Tropical North Queensland are lesser-known that the Great Barrier Reef, yet equally remarkable. The Daintree Rainforest for instance features crocodile-filled rivers, magnificent gorges and natural curiosities including the rare southern cassowary. Alternatively, you can experience the region’s great outback – where cattle jostle with kangaroo for majority.