5 Ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef

Tomi Stojanovic

Known as the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef is also its most extensive living organism. It’s so spread out that it can be seen from outer space. In 1981, it was named a World Heritage Site, and it’s often called one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
Over 2,900 individual reefs and almost 900 islands make up the Great Barrier Reef which stretches over 1,400 miles in length, covering an area of around 133,000 square miles. The reef creates an ecosystem that supports a huge array of different life forms, including more than 1,500 species of fish, along with many species of mollusks, birds, turtles, sea snakes, and 30 species of porpoises, whales, and dolphins.

Each year, the Great Barrier Reef leaves millions of visitors enchanted by its ancient, immense and awe-inspiring beauty. It’s a destination that can be found on many bucket lists around the world. So, if you’re planning your next vacation, but don’t know where to go, there are plenty of tours around the Great Barrier Reef that are bound to be just right for you.

Here is a list of five great ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

Take a swim or try diving

The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef
The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef

Of course, swimming is first on the list, since the action is mainly under the water. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most magical and fascinating places to scuba dive or snorkel. Although there are some islands with coasts that offer excellent reefs, most of the snorkeling and diving on the reef is boat-based. There are plenty of professional tours for reef explorations all around it. Some of the most popular starting points include Airlie Beach, Cape Tribulation, Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas, among many others. You can take a short day trip or go on multi-day trips for a more immersive experience, with accommodation and meals on the boat.


Don’t expect a deep submerge in the sea, but some tours offer a semi-submerge in the sea that will satisfy all of your submarine fantasies. You will get the best views without the need for any special diving skills. The tours offer an amazing experience, gliding through the coral gardens among the reef sharks, sea turtles, and much more, all while an expert shares his knowledge with you.

Sail on a boat

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from a boat
Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from a boat

Although the best way to experience the reef is by diving and getting close to it, seeing the reef from any angle is well worth it. Depending on your preference, many boat tours simply cruise around giving you the chance to enjoy the beautiful reefs from above. Go on a multi-day cruise, or take a short excursion on a boat with a glass bottom to see the amazing reefs without getting wet.

Stay on land and try island hopping

If you don’t want to see the actual reefs, but want to spend some fun time on dry land, island hopping is the activity for you. The Great Barrier Reef has many island ranges that vary from the uninhabited to the ritzy. Start by visiting Whitehaven Beach for a fun time on the sandy beaches and some surfing sessions. Then, go north to Hinchinbrook Island and Magnetic Island to take a hike through some of the beautiful national parks. Farther north you will find Fitzroy Island with some of the best vacation resorts around.

Fly above it

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef

As we said before, there is no bad angle for seeing the reefs. If you’re up for something more exciting and away from the water, flying is a great option. Taking an air tour is a memorable and fascinating way to see the area and get an idea of just how vast it really is. Whether via seaplane or helicopter, there are many air tours that you can go on. Some of them offer a flight over the Daintree Rainforest or a beach picnic on a desert island.

The Great Barrier Reef is truly one of the most amazing places on earth, and the possibilities for having a great time are endless. Visiting and experiencing it will be something you won’t regret aor forget for a very long time. Enjoy!

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tomi-stojanovik is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival