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Great Barrier Reef

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.


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 504 properties near Great Barrier Reef
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies £117
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies

Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies

4500 Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti, QLD
     
    3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    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. Macrossan Street and Palm Cove Beach are also within 16 mi (25 km).

    Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground £105
    Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground

    Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground

    Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach, QLD
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Nestled on the beach, this Ellis Beach campsite is within 3 mi (5 km) of Mount Formartine North Summit, Palm Cove Beach and Clifton Beach. Great Barrier Reef and Kewarra Beach are also within 6 miles (10 km).

      The Reef House Palm Cove MGallery £130
      The Reef House Palm Cove MGallery

      The Reef House Palm Cove MGallery

      99 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        This Palm Cove hotel is on the beach, 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach, and within 9 mi (15 km) of Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Great Barrier Reef. Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures are also within 12 mi (20 km).

        Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove £123
        Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove

        Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove

        123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
           
          5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove resort is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Clifton Beach. Kewarra Beach and Clifton Village Shopping Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km).

          Mantra Amphora £74
          Mantra Amphora

          Mantra Amphora

          49-63 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
             
            4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated near the beach, this luxury hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and 1.9 mi (3.1 km) from Clifton Beach. Kewarra Beach and Clifton Village Shopping Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km).

            Imagine Drift Palm Cove
            Imagine Drift Palm Cove

            Imagine Drift Palm Cove

            Cnr Veivers Rd Williams Esp, Palm Cove, QLD
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Palm Cove, this beachfront apartment building is in the entertainment district, 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and 1.8 mi (2.8 km) from Clifton Beach. Kewarra Beach and Clifton Village Shopping Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km).

              Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore
              Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore

              Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore

              1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove, QLD
                 
                5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove aparthotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and 1.8 mi (2.9 km) from Clifton Beach. Kewarra Beach and Clifton Village Shopping Centre are also within 3 miles (5 km).

                The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast £78
                The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast

                The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast

                Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove, QLD
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated by the ocean, this apartment building is 0.7 mi (1.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and 2.7 mi (4.4 km) from Clifton Beach. Clifton Village Shopping Centre is 2.3 mi (3.8 km) away.