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Queensland Great Barrier Reef

A Barrier Reef vacation is a once in a lifetime event for the majority of people, therefore it is important to make sure that the trip is correctly planned. A "holiday of a lifetime" for experienced scuba divers will almost certainly involve the outer reef. For others, the island resorts and fringing reefs may provide exactly the holiday they want.

If your Barrier Reef accommodation is booked at a mainland address, there may be reef transfer costs. However a mainland address may be perfect for the visitor who wants to combine the reef with mainland activities and attractions.

These simple examples illustrate different factors that need to be taken into account when planning the trip and any associated Barrier Reef tours. If in doubt, ask whatever questions are necessary of your booking agent to ensure that your expectations are going to be met.

Many people have a perception that the reef is the same all over. It is not, and "inner reef" and "outer reef" are just two of the many terms used to describe different types of reef conditions.


The inner reef is closest to the mainland and contains many of the islands on which the holiday resorts are located. These islands often have a nearby or surrounding fringe reef and their own particular marine environment. This differs from the environment of the outer reef with its appeal to experienced Barrier Reef scuba divers.

Each environment has its own attractions and any visit to the Barrier Reef will be a memorable experience, made all the more so when you focus your holiday and tours on that part of the reef that will match your expectations.

Great Barrier Reef Facts

The Great Barrier Reef is a marine park extending from the mainland coast to the continental shelf, an area so large as to be visible from the moon. It extends over 2000 km along the Queensland coast from Gladstone in the south to Cape York in the north.

There are more than 2900 individual reefs and 71 coral islands. The Barrier Reef is home to spectacular marine life and bird populations. National parks are common on the islands and park rules apply.

barrier reef map

Islands and reefs are typically in remote locations. Access is via resort stays, day trips with tour operators or self-sail rentals. There are currently 23 resorts, with several built on coral islands and many have their own fringing reef.

Resort accommodation ranges from backpacker budget through to exclusive luxury. All resorts offer a year round season. Jumping off points for the islands are all serviced by road, rail and air.  Most resorts offer shuttle services between the resort and the nearest mainland town. Resort activities vary according to the locale and style of each resort. Typical activities are swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, coral viewing, reef walking, sailing, yacht charter, jet skiing, parasailing, sailboarding, kayaking, catamarans, canoes, big game fishing and whale watching.

Learn to dive classes are available in most major centres and resorts.

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