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Great Barrier Reef
Holiday Travel Guide

Great Barrier Reef which includes colourful reefs, marine life and scuba diving

The largest coral reef in the world lies just off the coast of Cairns and offers thousands of kilometers of coral, marine life and untouched white sand beaches.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It stretches for 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) in the warm waters off the coast of North Queensland. The reef is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, secluded islands and crystal-clear waters brimming with coral and marine life. The World Heritage listed site is best visited by day trip from Cairns. Snorkel, dive or cruise the reef on a glass-bottomed boat.

This is the world’s largest coral reef. It encompasses close to 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch over almost 133,000 square miles (350,000 square kilometers). It’s estimated to be about 600,000 years old, and is renowned for its stunning biodiversity. See tropical fish, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, porpoises, molluscs and giant clams that are more than 120 years old. Living organisms like sponges and starfish feed off the coral.

The best way to enjoy the reef is to get on a boat and head out to sea. You can organize tours from the central tourism office in Cairns. There are a range of different tour companies and packages to choose from, whether you want to snorkel or dive, charter a yacht or stay overnight on an island. If you prefer to stay dry, sign up for a cruise on a glass-bottomed boat and explore the reef in an underwater observatory. 



Many islands make up the Great Barrier Reef, and some are easily reached by day trip from Cairns. The islands range from low-lying sand cays surrounded by crystal-clear water, to popular holiday islands dotted with resorts. Island hop as part of a tour or book a seat on a sea plane and spend a couple of nights in a luxury resort.


June to October is considered peak season when there is the best water conditions and the most number of visitors. Come outside this season for reduced rates on accommodation and tours. The average seawater temperature is 79 F (26 C), and the air temperature is warm in winter and hot in summer. 




It takes anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours to reach the reef from Cairns.

Top things to do in Great Barrier Reef

Top Trending Hotels Near Great Barrier Reef

Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground
Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground
3 out of 5
Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach, QLD
The price is £96 per night from 24 May to 24 May
Nestled on the beach, this Ellis Beach campsite is within 3 mi (5 km) of Wet Tropics of Queensland, Palm Cove Beach and Clifton Beach. Macalister Range National ...
4.3/5Excellent! (50 reviews)
"It is absolutely stunning where the bungalows are situated. The view and access to the pristine unspoilt beach is better than any upscale resort. My only complaint was that the bunk bed mattresses for the kids were very hard. Everything else was easy and wonderful and we would stay again if we ever ..."

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2021

Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
3.5 out of 5
4500 Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti, QLD
Get Rates
This Wangetti resort is on the beach, 3.3 mi (5.3 km) from Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Great Barrier Reef and Four Mile Beach. ...
4.4/5Excellent! (77 reviews)
"Loved the beach front, the location and the relaxed atmosphere, the managers are amazing at making you feel welcome, relaxed and looked after by all the great team"

Reviewed on 1 Aug 2020

Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
4 out of 5
Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is £65 per night from 28 May to 28 May
This family-friendly Cairns hotel is located by the ocean, within 1 mi (2 km) of Wet Tropics of Queensland and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 2.6 mi (4.1 ...
4.1/5Very Good! (685 reviews)
"Good 1BR accommodation at reasonable cost compared to absolute beachfronts. Only 10 mins walk. COVID plans seem well observed, although just mildly irritating compared to former times. Large grounds and two pools, although the large restaurant is still out of action other than breakfast time. No ..."

Reviewed on 17 May 2021

Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

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Top Hotel Deals

Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground
Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground
3 out of 5
Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach, QLD
The price is £96 per night from 24 May to 24 May
Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
3.5 out of 5
4500 Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti, QLD
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
4 out of 5
Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is £65 per night from 28 May to 28 May
Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove
Sarayi Boutique Hotel
Sarayi Boutique Hotel
4 out of 5
95 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is £98 per night from 1 Jun to 1 Jun
Sarayi Boutique Hotel
Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove
Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove
5 out of 5
123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is £194 per night from 2 Jun to 2 Jun
Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove
Imagine Drift Palm Cove
Imagine Drift Palm Cove
4 out of 5
Cnr Veivers Rd Williams Esp, Palm Cove, QLD
The price is £109 per night from 19 May to 19 May
Imagine Drift Palm Cove
Mango Lagoon Resort & Wellness Spa
Mango Lagoon Resort & Wellness Spa
3.5 out of 5
81 - 85 Cedar Road, Palm Cove, QLD
Mango Lagoon Resort & Wellness Spa
The Reef Retreat
The Reef Retreat
4 out of 5
10-14 Harpa Street, Palm Cove, QLD
The Reef Retreat
Sanctuary Palm Cove
Sanctuary Palm Cove
5 out of 5
6 Cedar Road, Palm Cove, QLD
Sanctuary Palm Cove
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.