GREAT BARRIER REEF
VISIT THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
The world renowned Great Barrier Reef. It is the largest reef system in the world, consisting of thousands of individual reefs that are teaming with life. The reef runs from the rum factories in Bundaberg to the tip of northern Queensland. At some of the best reef locations, the nearby land is also home to the world’s oldest rainforest, the Daintree Rainforest. The ecosystem is booming in Northern Queensland, nestled with thousands of plants species, crocodiles, this huge endangered prehistoric looking bird called a Cassowary, sharks, and fish of all off types. Weather you have crossed half the earth to visit Australia, or you are an Australian resident, the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding region are a bucket list must see.
Getting To The Great Barrier Reef
The primary airport to reach the reef is the Cairns International Airport. This airport is easily accessible from other Australian international airports like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. From Cairns Airport, either the city of Cairns or town of Port Douglas are the two primary harbors offering a variety of daily reef excursions. Travelers coming to Australia will need a visa, which for travel purpose are easy to obtain, generally requiring an ETA (Electronic Travel Visa). Once you have chosen your destination, Cairns, Port Douglas, or other, there are buses, Ubers, taxis, and rentals available to get you where you need to go. If your planning to travel around at all, a rental car is very affordable. Remember that they drive on the left-hand side of the road in Australia.
Port Douglas is situated an hour’s drive north of the Cairns Airport. It’s a wonderful small town with a harbor on one side, and a 4-mile beach on the other. Crocodiles lurk in these waters, so there is no swimming but a walk along the beach is stunning. The town has a lot of charm, with one main street running from the harbor to the beach filled with a variety of shops and restaurants. The harbor has various stores, a brewery, and is loaded with boats offering reef fishing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, and site seeing. There is a lot of places to stay in town and on the outskirts. It is suggested that one stays near the harbor and main commercial street, as it makes for easy early mornings, and evenings on the town. There is an amazing walk around a hill on the seas edge. One side of the path begins at four-mile beach, and the other near the harbor. In the evening, food is plentiful, from basic bar food and pizza joints, to high end places. Fresh fish is always available, and is a must try. If you want to see more than the reef, including places like the Daintree forest and or Cape Tribulation, Port Douglas is a good starting point.
Cairns is a quick taxi ride from the Airport and is a larger city than Port Douglas. Walk the water’s edge on the city’s main footpath, it is loaded with recreational spots, parks, paths to the harbor, and a public pool area. Shops and restaurants are found all throughout the waters edge and in the centre of town. Cairns also has a major bus terminal in the City, which can give tourist access to all regions in the area, including trips straight down the coast of Queensland to Brisbane beyond. The public pool area is unique in style, it is like a beach, with sand running into it. Locals and tourist sit around the pool, under the palms, looking out over the waters of the coral sea. The harbor is busy, loaded with boats of all shapes and sizes, all Great Barrier Reef activities can be accessed here. A key note attraction nearby is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, which offers a unique way to see the rainforest.
Great Barrier Reef
Being on the Great Barrier Reef is spectacular! Boats take you far out to sea where the land is a barely recognizable. The reef system is a long cluster of small reefs running from Bundaberg through North Queensland. Choosing the correct reef and boat to explore is always a popular question. My experience is that you pay for what you get. Going to the outer reef locations like Agincourt Reef, was my favourite. The Quicksilver Cruises company has many dives boats that go the Agincourt Reefs, each boat offering a different experience. Getting dive and other trips set up is quite easy, and you can generally organise it just a few days before required, but it recommended to book a bit earlier. Boats leave early in the morning and come back in the late afternoon. Divers generally can do up to three dives, each one is more affordable than the last. Snorkelers go out on the same boats, so if you are traveling with a partner who doesn’t dive, you can still be together.
Daintree Rainforest/Cape Tribulation
The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world. It is much older than the Amazon Rainforest and is listed as a World Heritage sites. The jungle runs straight down onto the beaches of the Coral Sea. The Daintree River opens into the Sea and makes for some spectacular views. The only way to cross the river is to take the ferry, which is said to still be used to discourage settlement in the rainforest. The two most popular animals in this area are the Crocodile and Cassowary Bird. There are many places to see them once you have crossed the ferry and are driving under the rainforest tree canopy. The road runs norths and when it turns to gravel you are at the famous beach of Cape Tribulation. It was named by Captain James Cook after running onto the reef of the shores. Cape Tribulation is a beautiful stretch of beach, very secluded, and private. Take a walk along it, fly a drone, bring lunch from one of the nearby shops, and take pictures from the scenic overlook.