CAIRNS | The Great Barrier Reef. What can I say about this natural wonder of the world that hasn’t been said time and time again. It’s the world’s largest coral reef system, and is visible from outer space. Over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretch for over 2,300 kilometres off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms, and is hugely biodiverse. It’s home to giant clams, whales, marine turtles, and over 1,600 species of fish. 215 species of bird nest on the reef’s islands, and it supports 2,195 known plant species.
I visited the reef on a half day trip out of Cairns, choosing the helicopter and dive experience run by Down Under Cruise & Dive and Nautilus Aviation. Both operators run accredited eco friendly, sustainable tours of the reef. Nautilus have helicopters that depart from the Cairns Heliport on a regular basis each day. It’s a 25 minute scenic flight from Cairns to the reef, where you get to experience the reef from the air, before landing on a floating Helipad at Hastings Reef.
From there, you hop onto a catamaran to the dive site, where you can snorkel or deep dive for an hour and a half. Snorkelling equipment and stinger/wet suits are provided. You get to see a wealth of beautiful coral and fish, along with the possibility of spotting turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and humpback whales.
When the time is up, you can grab a seat on the catamaran and enjoy some included lunch plus drinks from the bar for the approximately 90 minute journey back to Cairns. The experience costs $489 per person, but you can get special offers. I booked through Viator and paid $404 per person.
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most amazing travel experiences. I can’t believe that, as an Australian, it took me so long to see this part of my own backyard. The reef has come under significant environmental pressure in recent years, with multiple mass bleaching events caused by extreme weather patterns and climate change, causing parts of the reef to die. Let’s make sure that we protect this beautiful, vulnerable ecosystem for future generations.
Great Barrier Reef
6 Lake Street