#1 The Great Barrier Reef
It won’t be a big surprise to most that we have opted for the Great Barrier Reef as our #1 top place to visit while you are in The Whitsundays. There is really no place on earth quite like it.
Most of the islands in The Whitsundays are surrounded by fringing reefs and there are areas where coral reefs are accessible offshore. Whilst these reefs fall within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundaries, and are absolutely stunning in themselves, they don’t measure up to the grandness that is the outer barrier reef.
Made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and some 2,500 kilometres in length, The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world. We urge everyone that visits the tropics to see the reef from the air. There is a moment of complete awe the first time you fly above the reef.
Did you know that The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 fish species, 6 different species of turtles, more than 200 bird varieties and 17 different types of sea snakes? Also quite amazing is that some 30 different types of whales and dolphins visit the Great Barrier Reef each year. Add those local residents and aquatic visitors to the human traffic of about 2 million tourists per year, and that adds up to some serious population congestion, yet we all seem to co-exist quite well together.
Whilst us humans congregate in small areas that are commercially accessible, the vast expanse of the reef is as natural and untouched by civilization as it has been for centuries. The Reef is a living organism, made up of coral polyps growing on their dead relatives. Sounds gruesome yet nature survives.
To snorkel or scuba dive on the reef is a living dream. You don’t need to be an expert swimmer as there is always someone there to hold your hand. If it is your first dive, then someone will physically hold your hand and make sure you can appreciate the experience without mishaps.
Below the waves the reef is stunning. Soft corals wave with the currents and beautiful hard corals seemingly stretch forever. Some reefs stick out of the water at low tide. Normally they have no live coral on top, yet around the edges they are particularly stunning, much similar to the fringing reefs of the inshore islands. Perhaps in thousands of years they will become beautiful sand quays. Snorkeling is a great way to see the corals and marine life.
Please never stand on the reef and be aware not to kick the reef with your fins. Remember if you do you will likely kill hundreds of coral polyps. Not a very smart thing to do.
In the Whitsundays there are many tours or cruises you can join that will take you to the reef. The most popular is the day trip with Cruise Whitsundays, a large vessel that visits a floating pontoon on Hardy Reef. Other options are with helicopter or seaplane flights or smaller specialist sailing cruises. See your tour desk for all options and prices.
Now let us show you some images of the natural beauty that you could see yourself on the amazing Great Barrier Reef.