Writer, adventurer and wrangler to little people and pets. Follow me on Instagram @whereiholiday.
Published January 1st 2013
You can see the Reef from space but its better in person
The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland is one of Australia's natural wonders. It's stunning beauty and diversity of marine life makes snorkelling or diving the reef a popular bucket list item. While Lizard Island and Heron Island rank as two of the top spots to dive the reef, they are expensive and difficult to access. If you are looking for a stress free and easy to access reef adventure, then you should explore the day trips on offer from Cairns in Far North Queensland.
A popular day trip option, especially for overseas visitors, is the Great Barrier Reef and Green Island Tour. Great Adventures is one company that offers the tour which includes a 2 hour visit to Green Island and a 3 hour reef visit.
Green Island is a coral cay approximately 50 minutes from Cairns by fast catamaran. The island is covered in lush rainforest and beautiful beaches with crystal clear water perfect for snorkelling. You can relax on the beach or if you are interested in scuba diving at the reef you can complete an introduction course at Green Island. A visit to Marineland Melanesia to meet Cassius the Crocodile and for the crocodile feeding show is a popular attraction.
Cassius the Croc at Marineland Melanesia Green Island
The Outer Reef is another 50 minutes by catamaran from Green Island. The Great Adventures tour goes to a permanent pontoon that offers ample seating, shade, toilets and freshwater showers. The tour includes a full buffet lunch, snorkel gear, semi-submersible coral viewing tour and underwater observatory.
Even though I am a certified scuba diver, I have found the snorkelling off the pontoon to be an excellent way to see the reef, especially when travelling with friends that are non-divers. For less experienced snorkelers, buoyancy vests are provided to assist you with floating on the water to make the experience more comfortable. This is particularly helpful when snorkelling with children. The pontoon is comfortable and offers plenty of space to enjoy a relaxing day at the Reef.
Tours depart from the Reef Fleet Terminal in Cairns, which acts as a single hub for Great Barrier Reef tours. Booking your tour in advance is advised. Tour prices vary and optional activities, including scuba diving, can be booked as part of your tour.