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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Great Barrier Reef

Explore this natural paradise home to spectacular marine life when you venture out into the balmy waters off the coast of Cairns.

Discover one of the Severn Natural Wonders of the World when you visit the Great Barrier Reef of the coast North Queensland. The warm waters around the magnificent coral structures teem with some of the most beautiful marine creatures in the world. Immerse yourself in this ocean paradise with a diving or snorkelling expedition.

This World Heritage site is the largest coral reef system on the globe, and is estimated to be approximately 600,000 years old. Within its 350,000 square kilometre expanse there are almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. It is home to a population of marine creatures of unparalleled diversity and stunning beauty. You’ll encounter over 1,500 species of tropical fish, including clownfish and red-throat emperors, as well as whales, dolphins, sea turtles, porpoises and giant clams. On the delicate reef surface you’ll spot starfish and living sponges feeding off the coral.

Many different tour companies operate out of Cairns. A visit to the central tourism office is the best place to get up-to-date information on the trips and packages available. Choose from guided snorkelling or diving excursions, or even charter your own yacht. If you prefer not to enter the water, there are many companies offering trips on glass-bottomed boats, so you can still get a stunning view of the seascape beneath you.

Among the reef’s islands you’ll find everything from low-lying sand cays to fully-developed holiday islands with luxury resorts. Many islands can be visited as part of a day trip, or there are island-hopping tours that allow you to spend a few days out on the reef. You can even book a seat on a seaplane, which has the added benefit of stunning aerial views.

The Great Barrier Reef is busiest from June to October when the water conditions are at their best. At other times of the year, you will be able to get reduced rates for accommodation and tours. Allow between 90 minutes and two hours to reach the reef from Cairns.


Guide to Exploring Great Barrier Reef


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Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies

Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Adults Only LGBTQIA & Allies

4500 Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti, QLD
     
    3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    This Wangetti resort is on the beach, 3.3 mi (5.3 km) from Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Great Barrier Reef and Four Mile Beach. Macrossan Street and Palm Cove Beach are also within 16 mi (25 km).

    Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground NZ$187
    Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground

    Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground

    Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach, QLD
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Nestled on the beach, this Ellis Beach campsite is within 3 mi (5 km) of Wet Tropics of Queensland, Palm Cove Beach and Clifton Beach. Macalister Range National Park and Macalister Range National Park are also within 5 minutes.

      Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove NZ$239
      Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove

      Peppers Beach Club and Spa - Palm Cove

      123 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Wet Tropics of Queensland and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 2.3 mi (3.7 km) away.

        Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa NZ$199
        Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa

        Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa

        5 Triton Street, Palm Cove, QLD
           
          5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kuranda National Park and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 1.7 mi (2.7 km) away.

          Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove NZ$124
          Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove

          Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove

          Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove, QLD
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            This family-friendly Cairns hotel is located by the ocean, within 1 mi (2 km) of Wet Tropics of Queensland and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 2.6 mi (4.1 km) away.

            Imagine Drift Palm Cove NZ$149
            Imagine Drift Palm Cove

            Imagine Drift Palm Cove

            Cnr Veivers Rd Williams Esp, Palm Cove, QLD
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Palm Cove, this beachfront apartment building is in the entertainment district and within 1 mi (2 km) of Kuranda National Park and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 1.8 mi (2.8 km) away.

              Mantra Amphora NZ$156
              Mantra Amphora

              Mantra Amphora

              49-63 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove, QLD
                 
                4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Palm Cove, this luxury hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Kuranda National Park and Palm Cove Beach. Clifton Beach is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) away.

                The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast NZ$163
                The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast

                The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast

                Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove, QLD
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Palm Cove, this apartment building is 0.7 mi (1.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and 2.7 mi (4.4 km) from Clifton Beach. Macalister Range National Park and Macalister Range National Park are also within 2 miles (3 km).