Australian Travel Destination Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Hamilton Island Whitsundays, Daintree Rainforest and Port Douglas
Australian Travel Destination 4
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest feature made up of living organisms. Stretching 2,600 Kms (1,600 miles) down the north east coast of Queensland, Australia, it can be seen clearly from outer space. Consisting of more than 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs, it cannot be experienced by strapping on a mask, snorkel and fins and taking a casual swim from the beach. A deal of thought has to be given to the style of Great Barrier Reef trip you wish to take.
Day Trips & Excursions Cairns & the Tropical North will help you pick a trip that looks right. Which part of the Great Barrier Reef do you wish to visit, and what is the main access point for that area? If you are a serious SCUBA diver you want to visit the reef on an expedition dedicated to diving, a live-aboard trip might be for you. To visit on a more casual basis, a day trip from your onshore accommodation or an Island like Green Island will show you the diverse sealife of the area.
More on Green Island: >>> Australian.com - Green Island Resort, Cairns
For more detail, see the Map of Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays, Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda Australia. Also see the Map of Cairns Australia.
History of the Great Barrier Reef
The early European explorers of the Great Barrier Reef faced huge difficulties as they battled wind, strong currents and tides in an ocean riddled with dangerous reefs and sand bars. The first European to record the existence of the Great Barrier Reef was Louis de Bouganville in 1768, though he did not claim the area for France. In 1770, Captain James Cook ran aground at the aptly named Cape Tribulation while exploring and charting the Reef, but it was not until the early 20th Century that serious thought was given to the study, preservation and use of the Reef as a national Australian treasure. Today, The Great Barrier Reef falls under the control of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act passed by the Australian Federal Parliament in 1999.
Geography of The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef follows the continental shelf down the East Coast, and is made up of many separate reefs interspersed with the occasional island and deep channels used by shipping. It is a complex area and one that requires local knowledge and skill to navigate safely. There are many different access points to the Reef, the main one being Cairns for access to the northern Reef, Lizard Island and the Daintree Rainforest Area. Hamilton Island is the main airport access area to the Whitsundays and Bundaberg is the entry to the southern reef, Lady Elliot Island and Heron Island. The Great Barrier Reef ends north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island. The Satellite image of the Great Barrier Reef on the left covers The Great Barrier Reef's 2,600 Kilometre (1,600mi) length, from Cape York in the north, to Bundaberg in the south. The Whitsundays, Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach are in the middle of the Satellite view.
Cairns, Kuranda, Port Douglas, The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef
Cairns is a major gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and also the point from which many day trips to the Atherton Tableland, Kuranda and the Daintree Tropical Rainforest leave. Flying into Cairns, one is struck by the lush tropical vegetation contrasting with the bright blue of the Coral Sea. Many veterans of the Vietnam war comment on the similarity of the landscape to their old battleground. There is a wide range of hotels in Cairns, both in the city itself, and along the northern beaches as they stretch north to Port Douglas.
Compare Prices on Port Douglas Hotels: >>> Australian.com - Hotels in Port Douglas
A lot of day tours and sightseeing excursions leave from the Cairns Marina, and these are best for the casual visitor who wants to get their feet wet, snorkel and see the Reef.
Compare Day Trips and Tours from Cairns: >>> Cairns & the Tropical North Tours & Activities
The day trip to Kuranda aboard the Kuranda Railway or Skyrail is well worth the trip, and rafting the Barron River between Kuranda and Cairns is a good introduction to this activity. The hot air ballooning is amazing on the Atherton Tablelands and this a great way to get out in the Australian bush at sunrise and to be among Kangaroos as they begin their day in the wild.
The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical rainforest on earth, and is the home of one of the oldest Aborigine cultures. It is a World Heritage Protected eco destination, and can be visited by any number of day trips from Cairns or Port Douglas. The accommodation offerings in the Daintree area range from the basic to the completely luxurious.
Book a Daintree Rainforest Tour:
>>> Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation Day Tour
Compare Prices on Daintree Accommodation: >>> Australian.com - Hotels in Daintree
Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays
For an accessible Island stay on the Great Barrier Reef, Hamilton Island is hard to beat. There is a wide range of Hamilton Island accommodation, from basic holiday apartments to the Beach Club and the exclusive, stunningly beautiful Qualia Resort hidden away in the privacy of a tropical bushland setting.
Compare Hotel Prices on Hamilton Island: >>> Australian.com - Hotels in Hamilton Island
Hayman Island is a destination of its own and provides an upscale, luxury option for those looking for total privacy. Both Hamilton Island and Hayman Island are accessed by way of the Hamilton Island Airport with direct flights from most major Australian cities.
Compare Accommodation Prices on Hayman Island: >>> Australian.com - Hayman Island Resort
Whitsundays & Hamilton Island Tours & Activities are available on either day trips, or multi day tours. If you want to sail the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays is the place to do it. The Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach Sailing Adventure is available daily as a crewed sailing option. For the more adventurous, bareboat (you sail it yourself) to fully crewed charters are available from the Hamilton Island Marina.
Will Travel Planning Help? >>> Work with an Australian Travel Planner.
Diving Islands - Lady Elliot Island, Heron Island and Lizard Island
For a diving and snorkeling experience on the Great Barrier Reef it is hard to beat a stay on an island that specialises in providing services for the serious SCUBA enthusiast. Islands range in locations on the Great Barrier Reef and in the quality of the services offered. Lizard Island is accessed out of Cairns (you will need to fly another hour north on a commuter plane), and offers the famous Cod Hole as one of its drawcards. Lizard Island is a designated National Park on the Great Barrier Reef and offers a very sophisticated level of accommodation. At the southern end of the reef, and accessed out of Bundaberg or Brisbane, Lady Elliot Island is a fabulous, low key diving location and is one of the best places to see turtles on the Great Barrier Reef. The accommodation on Lady Elliot Island is more basic than Heron or Lizard, but the staff and the pristine diving conditions make it a wonderful destination. The lagoon at Lady Elliot provides an excellent snorkeling alternative to those who do not wish to SCUBA. Heron Island, located in the same area as Lady Eliot Island is a more popular, and more upscale destination on the Great Barrier Reef.
Compare Prices on Lizard Island: >>> Australian.com - Lizard Island Resort
Compare Prices on Lady Elliot Island: >>> Australian.com - Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
Compare Prices on Heron Island: >>> Australian.com - Heron Island Resort