Author: Fenella Cools
No Australia itinerary is complete without the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef! This is the largest living organism in the world and comprises of thousands of types of corals and marine life stretching for 2,300kms so you want to make sure you do it right! We've compiled our staff's best tips and tricks to make your Great Barrier Reef tour unforgettable from how to escape the crowds, to how to make sure you protect the reef.
Best Time To Visit The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is located in North-eastern Queensland - a region blessed with balmy, sub-tropical weather all year around. However, while it's possible to visit in any season, it's important to remember that some are better than others. We recommend aiming to visit during the shoulder season of May - November to avoid the storm season, the stinger season and also the high of the Australian summer which can be uncomfortably humid and very busy. This is also the prime whale watching season where the reef plays host to these majestic giants on their annual migration - so keep your eyes peeled!
What to Bring on Cairns Reef Tours
Apart from the obvious, towels, sunglasses and towels etc, there are some reef specific items that are essential for any Great Barrier Reef cruise. Firstly, it's very important to ensure that your sunscreen is marine safe. Many tourists don't realise that many of the most common types of sunscreen actually contain harmless chemicals that can damage coral and marine life! Many tourists do not realise that water pollution from personal care products can be equally as damaging to the fragile ecosystem as global warming. While many tour operators will provide appropriate sunscreen onboard, we always recommend coming prepared. For all the chemicals you should be watching out for, and recommended brands, you can read about it here.
How to Choose The Best Great Barrier Reef Day Tour For You
We want the Great Barrier Reef to love its tourists just as much as they love it. That’s why we always recommend eco-friendly tours that reduce the impact on these fragile eco-systems and ensure you get to experience a pristine and thriving environment! We recommend choosing a tour that offers a private, rather than a public reef mooring. These privately-owned moorings are exclusive to a limited number of tourists meaning that not only are they sustainable, they also let you escape the crowds and experience the reef in a personalised, small group tour. Our staff's favourite pick is Ocean Freedom's day trip!
How Long to Allow At The Reef
Cruises from Cairns only take around 1.5-2hrs to reach most sections of the reef so it is perfectly easy to see the Great Barrier Reef in one day. However, it's important to remember that the weather plays a huge role in making this the day trip of a lifetime. Rather then rain, the wind is actually the largest factor in making the perfect tour as choppy seas can make for a very uncomfortable boat ride as well as stir up sediment that effects underwater visibility of the coral. Therefore we recommend at least 2 days in Cairns in case of cancellation. We also highly recommend spending at least 1 extra day in the region to explore the city's other natural gems including the World's oldest sub-tropical rainforest, The Daintree Rainforest, chasing waterfalls in the Atherton Tablelands and adrenaline activities like whitewater rafting and skydiving!