Great Barrier Reef Holidays
1,400 miles long (roughly the distance from London to Athens) and visible from space the Great Barrier Reef is arguably the most spectacular expression of nature on Earth. The reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to 1,500 species of fish, six species of turtle and 30 different species of dolphins and whales, therefore it’s not hard to see why it is top of most people’s list of places to visit when heading ‘Down Under’. There are so many ways to explore the reef – from scuba diving amongst the marine life below the waves and dining atop a yacht – gazing down on the reef whilst enjoying world-class seafood – to soaring through the air above it on a private helicopter ride. Find your perfect reef experience by speaking with one of our Travel Experts.
Popular Tailor-made Great Barrier Reef Holiday Itineraries
There is endless possibility when it comes to discovering Australia's Great Barrier Reef, from romantic picnics on a deserted private island to being face to face with some of the world's most iconic marine life. Discover the reef as part of a wider Australian itinerary, find example itineraries below and discover what's possible.
16 days from£ 3,225 pp
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Great Barrier Reef Holiday Types
The diversity of the marine life on the reef is mirrored only by the diversity of ways to experience it. Choose from a variety of different Great Barrier Reef holiday types below to find a trip that suits your exact needs.
Things to do in the Great Barrier Reef
See some of the bountiful marine life
The Great Barrier Reef is arguably the best destination in the world to experience marine wildlife. The length of the reef is teeming with 1,500 species of fish, six species of turtle and 30 different species of dolphins and whales. Get below the waves on a scuba dive adventure; there are sites throughout the Great Barrier Reef for those who are embarking on their first dive or their 100th dive. If you would rather float above the waves there are thousands of amazing snorkelling sites so you can still see just as much marine life without having to submerse yourself.
On your Great Barrier Reef holiday there are plenty of amazing day trips to see all kinds of wildlife, from the deck of a boat or from high up in the sky. And on that note…
Dolphin and whale watching
When visiting the Great Barrier Reef for your holiday make sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to see whales and dolphins. Although it is possible to imagine the sights and sounds of a humpback whale breaching it is impossible to truly understand the awesome power of these animals without witnessing it for yourself. So make sure you do!
And it’s not all about humpback whales – roughly 40% of all whale species can be found in and around the Great Barrier Reef.
As part of your Great Barrier Reef holiday you should also take advantage of some of the best dolphin-viewing platforms in the world. Bottlenose dolphins are abundant along the reef and are an incredibly popular part of most Great Barrier Reef holidays due to their high intelligence and naturally playful nature.
Midway along the long and beautiful tropical Queensland coast that runs parallel with the Great Barrier Reef is the "74 island wonders" that make up the Whitsundays. Almost every island here embodies the word 'paradise' and consists of secluded beaches, friendly towns and surrounding azure waters. Be sure not to miss the stunning Whitehaven Beach, home to the purest silica sand in the world.
The Whitsunday Islands can be reached from Airlie Beach, a relaxed tropical beach town.
Port Douglas and the Daintree Rainforest
This quaint seaside town north of Cairns is lined with boutique shope and restaurants and home to the world-famous Four Mile Beach. Interestingly, it is also a town that straddles two different UNESCO World Heritage sites. In fact, Tropical North Queensland is the only place where two UNESCO World Heritage zones – the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef – actually touch. Make sure you visit both on your Great Barrier Reef holiday.
Take a day trip
Combine a visit to the Great Barrier Reef with a helicopter ride, a sailing adventure, a Catamaran cruise or even an idyllic hot-air balloon ride over the spectacular Atherton Tablelands region. If you are feeling very adventurous head to the outer reef.
There are so many islands to visit you'll have trouble choosing from Hamilton Island, Lizard Island, Heron Island, Orpheus Island and so many more. We have created a guide to the best islands to visit in the Great Barrier Reef to help you with your choice.
This is a great question. And the answer is as soon as humanly possible! You don't know what you are missing until you have seen this world wonder in person. But, on a more practical level there are two distinct seasons in the Great Barrier Reef: dry season, November - March; and wet season, April - October.
Dry season: November - March
The Great Barrier Reef is home to balmy and calm waters during the dry season. The water is a beautiful tropical temperature and the weather above the waves is hot, hot, hot. If you don't deal well with temperatures above 30 degrees celsius then consider avoiding December - February as this is the very height of summer in Tropical North Queensland. Due to the favourable conditions this time of year is likely to be slightly more expensive than during the wet season and places are likely to be a little busier. Book in advance to make the most of your Great Barrier Reef trip.
Wet season: April to October
Whilst temperatures in the Great Barrier Reef will be in the low 20sfor the majority of the wet season, the lukewarm weather is punctuated by intermittent tropical downfalls. To the far north of the reef box jellyfish can be an issue as well as choppy waters, during this time the south of the reef is safer and less choppy. Prices are generally lower during this period so it can be a great opportunity to experience great weather at a reduced price.
Great Barrier Reef Holiday Ideas and Advice
Great Barrier Reef facts
- The Great Barrier Reef receives over two million visitors each year.
- It is the world's largest reef system.
- The entirety of the reef stretches over over 1,400 miles and is roughly the same size as Italy.
- Tourism is very well managed on the reef at the moment which reduces damage.
- The Great Barrier Reef can be viewed from space.