a travel guide to THE GREAT BARRIER REEF


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Labelled as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef attracts around two million travellers to its diverse ecosystems every year. The Great Barrier Reef is located in Queensland, which is a much desired holiday destination by travellers. Visiting the area on a budget is no problem and you will find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the region without going overboard. However, it is important to stick to a budget once you have made one.

The Great Barrier Reef is made up of islands, reefs, coral cays, sea grass beds and mangroves; and the area is so extensive that it can be seen from outer space. Anyone visiting the Great Barrier Reef will not only be able to strike it off their bucketlist, but they will be able to see wildlife like never before.

Scuba dive and see the wonders that lie below the ocean's surface. Take a speedboat tour around the Great Barrier Reef and take in the beautiful Australian weather. If you want to be active and view the cays up close, kayak from reef to reef and explore the unbelievable World Heritage Site that is the Great Barrier Reef.

How to get to the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef extends 2,300 kilometres from northern Queensland to Bundaberg. Thanks to the reef's large size, it is easy to access it from several points in Queensland. The best place to reach the reef from is Cairns, however, which is located near the midpoint of the Great Barrier Reef.

While Cairns offers the best city to reach the reef from, Port Douglas is slightly geographically closer to the reef. Just a few miles up the road, Port Douglas gives you a small town feel while travelling through Queensland; and it is a good stop off for some peace and quiet. From Cairns or one of the other mainland departure points you can take a water taxi or seaplane over to the reef to explore one of the greatest nature wonders on Earth.

Cairns

Considered the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is a tourist centre for the some two million people that travel to the reef each year. The northern tip of Queensland is rather tropical, but Cairns offers visitors modern city luxurious to

go with the weather and forest at your doorstep. One drawback to the city is the amount of resorts and hotels that cater to visitors of the Great Barrier Reef, which can make the area a bit pricey. But if you can stick to your budget during your trip you will do just fine.

Port Douglas

While Cairns gives you a modern city feel, Port Douglas is all beach and good times. Be sure to pack your board shorts and flipflops as your attire will be all about cool comfort. Just an hour away is the Great Barrier Reef, so excursions to the reef are easy to do before returning to Port Douglas for a late afternoon beer. Four Mile Beach is the perfect spot to spend your time at when you aren't out on the reef. Sun, sand and golden Aussie tans are what Port Dougnlas is all about.

Things to do in Great Barrier Reef

Day trips

Day trips are arguably the most popular activity when visiting the Great Barrier Reef. Take a trip to Green Island which is a favourite spot for many who visit. It provides a resort with restaurants to hungry and tired travellers. Located 27 kilometres off the coast of Cairns, Green Island is a gorgeous cay that provides you with the chance to lounge about or hike. You can cover the entire cay in about half an hour.

The southernmost islands of Lady Musgrave, Lady Elliot and Hinchinbrook are great day trip destinations as well. If you want to see the reef's wildlife and get in touch with nature, these are the islands to go to. All three are protected by the national parks service and all three offer something very different to budget travellers. Lady Musgrave is the ideal place to camp while visiting the reef, so you could save a penny or two sleeping out when visiting the island.

It isn't often you get to go to the Great Barrier Reef, so why not cap off the trip with a flight over the reef? There are two options for flying over the reef, and both helicopter and seaplane offer a different experience. Choose from a short flight that lasts less than half an hour or a full-day flying experience. Being on the ground is a great way to see the reef, but from the air it is something completely different.

Islands to visit

Of course, Green Island is the most popular island in the Great Barrier Reef. There is so much to see and do there as well as a resort that offers modern luxurious in one of the coolest spots in the world. If you want to experience the tourist side of the reef, it is a must-visit island. But if you want to stay away from the crowds, perhaps some of the reef's other spots are more ideal.

The fragile ecosystem of the Whitsunday Islands is one of the best places to start. The 74 islands that make up the area have eco retreats, campsites and resorts, so there are plenty of places to sleep when exploring the reefs. All of the islands offer scuba diving, snorkelling and cruises that go around to the other islands. Be aware that some of the islands cater to more upscale clientele, so you may steer clear of them unless you want to splurge while touring the reef.

Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsunday Island and is the beach you dream of when you think of tropical shores. Often voted as one of the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven's white sands and enchanting blue waters are perfect for just about anything.

Magnetic Island is home to a national park of the same name, and is home to sea turtles and other amazing animals. The island has great hiking trails which give you the opportunity to see much of the wildlife up close.

Why should you go to the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef is amazing, and there is a list of great reasons you should visit it. But the simple fact that the reef may not be there in the future, should be the main reason you go. At the reef's northern tip, the coral has begun to die and the warming ocean waters have damaged the Great Barrier Reef. It may not be there in the future for you children or grandchildren; and that is why it must be seen. Of course, Australia is doing what it can to save the reef, but it takes the entire world to stop the damage that is being done to it currently.