Guide to the Great Barrier Reef: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to sunbathe. The highlights of the Great Barrier Reef: fresh reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and beaches.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is one of the largest coral reef systems in the world. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north of Australia. It consists of 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands, stretching for 2600 km. Its area is about 344,400 km² (slightly larger than France) – this is the largest formation in the world created by living organisms. In the north, it is almost continuous and is located only 50 km from the coast of Australia. In the south, it breaks up into groups of separate reefs, in some places receding from the coast for 300 km. It is here that divers from all over the world flock like bees to honey.
The Great Barrier Reef is so large that it can even be seen from space.
A reef is made up of billions of coral polyps, tiny micro-organisms. The fabulous underwater world of coral islands attracts many tourists from all over the world, but it is incredibly fragile and defenseless. For example, if the water temperature rises even by one degree, rare algae and coral polyps will begin to die. Therefore, the Australian government has developed special requirements for visiting this zone: during an underwater excursion, you cannot touch the reefs with your hands, and you can pitch tents only on specially designated islands.
CNN named the Great Barrier Reef one of the wonders of the world, and in 1981 it was designated a World Heritage Site.
The most expensive and luxurious resort islands of the Great Barrier Reef are Bedarra and Hayman. Diving is available on Heron, Magnetic and Lizard Islands. And the islands of Dunk, Hamilton, Fraser, Brampton and Keppel combine excellent beach holidays, diving, entertainment, and excursions.
Major islands of the Great Barrier Reef
Heron Island is a secluded resort at the southern end of the GBR. This is one of the best diving spots on the planet: white sands, clear waters and amazingly beautiful corals. You can get there by helicopter or boat from Gladstone. The local hotel offers tourists a restaurant, a bar, a swimming pool, tennis, snorkeling (in the pool) and scuba diving, diving, fishing, coral reef excursions: hiking – in shallow water, underwater – on a boat with a transparent bottom, ornithological, zoological, helicopter tours, spa, wine and cheese tasting.
Dunk Island is one of the most beautiful tropical islands, designed more for families. Hiking or horseback riding through rainforests with colorful tropical birds and butterflies, fishing competitions, snorkeling or scuba diving are waiting for tourists here. With all the luxury Dank is the best combination of high quality and reasonable price.
Lizard Island with its 24 beaches is the northernmost, most famous and one of the most expensive resorts in the GBR. Exceptional comfort, gourmet cuisine, beautiful beaches, fishing, diving (stingrays, manta rays, moray eels, etc.) are guaranteed here. Here are the most popular places among divers – for example, Cod Hole, you can swim to the “clam garden”, which is home to many colorful fish and other marine life. The local research center offers excursions to learn more about the life of marine life. Other activities include tennis, cruises, trips to reefs, water skiing, swimming pools, restaurants and bars.
Swimming in the azure waters off Lizard Island won the 2010 Lonely Planet Awards for Best Outdoor Activity.
Hyman is a private island, one of the most prestigious Australian resorts. Hyman is consistently ranked among the top ten hotels in the world and is considered the best place for lovers. All conditions for recreation are created here: excellent cuisine (10 restaurants), clean deserted beaches, diving, ocean cruises, water skiing, windsurfing, catamarans, parasailing, 6 tennis courts, squash, badminton, golf, fitness center, yachts, fishing, gallery of boutiques, bars.
In the Daintree National Park you can see unique rainforests, one of the most ancient on the planet.
Hamilton Island is for those who like to combine eco-recreation with civilization. Here you can find wildlife and all kinds of marine activities, as well as stroll through the boutiques in a small village, visit an art gallery or listen to live music in one of the pubs. There is a Fun Club on the island. There are 4 hotels of different styles, so you can choose a modern high-rise building or a bungalow surrounded by greenery.
Bedarra is the most expensive and luxurious island in the GBR. Here, secluded beaches, walks, tennis, water sports and excellent cuisine await wealthy tourists. Accommodation only in private villas with ocean views and luxurious furnishings.
Weather forecast for the Great Barrier Reef
The climate on the BBR is hot, subequatorial, the temperature does not change throughout the year. As elsewhere in the tropics, the air here is humid, but this humidity is more easily tolerated than in Thailand or other countries of Southeast Asia. The best time to visit is from May to October when the humidity gets lower than usual. At this time, the GBR replaces the Gold Coast, becoming the main holiday destination in the country. See CITYPOPULATIONREVIEW for weather information.
Average air temperature: December – February +24…+31 °C, March – May +22…+29 °C, June – August +17…+26 °C, September – November +19…+28 °C.
The beaches of the Great Barrier Reef
Swimming at the GBR site, located 30 km from the coast, is allowed all year round, and the water there is so clear that visibility exceeds 30 m. There is nowhere to swim in Cairns, so if you are planning a sea holiday, you need to choose hotels in the Palm Cove area, Trinity Beach or Port Douglas, where you can swim from May to October.
From late October to early May, poisonous jellyfish visit the waters of the northern coast. These creatures, about 10 cm long and with long tentacles, are transparent and almost invisible underwater. Swimming during this period is possible either in places fenced with nets or in special suits – a dubious pleasure, especially since other beaches are available in Australia at this time.
Entertainment and attractions of the Great Barrier Reef
- Cairnsis one of the most exotic corners of Australia, the “gate” of the Great Barrier Reef and the main resort in the north of the country. From here you can make a trip to the Russell River National Park, visit the mountain village of Kuranda with its famous tropical butterfly greenhouse, ride an old train along a mountain road past waterfalls and rain forests. And after that, go down to the sea on the 7-kilometer Skytrail, laid over impenetrable rainforests, or visit the aboriginal village of Tzhapukai.
- In the Daintree National Park you can see unique rainforests, one of the most ancient on the planet, unusual plants, flowers, animals, birds and insects. Popular routes include Bloomfield Falls and Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, Aboriginal Village, and Cape Tribulation Beach.
- The nature of the Vurunuran National Park has remained unchanged for 100 million years. Ebenange Swamp National Park will amaze you with hundreds of species of birds.
From the coast of the GBR, you can go on a cruise to the Agincot coral reef, visit the Aboriginal theater in Kuranda or go to this village for a tour, go on a jeep safari along the Cape Tribulation beach or fly in a hot air balloon.