Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. From the northern tip of Queensland’s coastline the tropical coral reef system spans 2300kms, to put it in perspective it is bigger than New Zealand and approximately the size of Japan. Located in the Coral sea, the largest protected reef system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef was declared a Marine Park in 1975 and was World Heritage Listed in 1981. Whilst we all instantly marvel at its aesthetic beauty and azure from above, it is the complex ecosystem and diverse rich underwater life that makes it the impressive marine wonderland that it is.
Your accommodation in Port Douglas, the Newport on Macrossan is a great choice for close and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef. Travel time to the reef will ultimately depend on your choice of vessel and destination. You can be whisked to the iconic Low Isles in just 15 minutes or venture to the Outer Reef in around 60 minutes.
Whether you opt to snorkel, scuba dive or stay dry the day cruises to the Outer Reef are many and varied.
Silversonic cruises to the Agincourt Reef and is ideal for the adventure minded who are intending to either snorkel or dive or do both.
Calypso journeys to the pristine Opal Reef and offers small groups for snorkelling personalised introductory diving and certified scuba diving with a maximum of 65 passengers on board.
Poseidon visits three sites in one day at the very edge of the Outer Reef where the ribbon reefs run parallel to the Continental Shelf. Poseidon has one of the few permits allowing guests to swim with Dwarf Minke Whales.
Quicksilver cruises are designed to cater for swimmers and non swimmers, it features a large, double storey stable pontoon on Agincourt Reef, and semi submersible vessels, so you can see the reef without getting wet.
Wavelength enjoys exclusive access to Turtle Bay in Tongue Reef; this vessel specialises in snorkelling only and takes a maximum of just 30 passengers.
Features of the Great Barrier Reef:
• 1500 of the world’s 13000 species of marine fish
• 360 species of hard corals
• 600 species of echinoderms, (starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers)
• 629 species of seaweed
• 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles
• 215 species of birds (including 40 species of seabirds)
• 14 000 dugongs
• 130 species of sharks and rays
• Dwarf Minke Whales (May to September)
• Humpback Whales(July to September)
• Dolphins and porpoises
• 14 species of sea snakes
• 5,000 species of mollusks (giant clams, octopus, cuttlefish and squid are also types of mollusk).
Comprising a disjointed maze of 2900 separate coral reefs and coral cays the Great Barrier Reef is created by billions of tiny living organisms. The individual reefs are off the islands and mainland but they only comprise 6% of the Great Barrier Reef.
Whatever you may read about the beauty and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef it can never compare to simply being out on the reef. Regardless of the size of the vessel you choose to cruise out to the reef in, your perspective will change as soon as you and your vessel venture outside the inlet of Port Douglas. The sheer size of the reef is awe-inspiring; the remarkable expanse of brilliant blue leaves you feeling alive and insignificant at the same time, and at this stage you have not even glimpsed the wonders of the marine life underwater.
Corals have existed on the Great Barrier Reef for 25 million years; initially however, they didn’t form structured coral reefs. The present Great Barrier Reef only started to grow 9000 years ago – after the end of the last Ice Age. The Great Barrier Reef today comprises ribbon reefs, platform reefs, fringing reefs and deltaic reefs.
Your first experience of swimming underwater over an exquisitely colorful coral reef can only be akin to discovering a completely new and exhilarating world. The fish with their jewel like brilliance, and the intriguing shapes and colors of the other marine life, all leave you with the sense of visiting a delicate, silent and secret realm. There is real delight in watching and swimming alongside the lavish colored fish and turtles moving freely in their natural environment.
All you need to enter this extraordinary tropical under water world is a glass fronted mask, a pair of flippers and the yearning to experience the Great Barrier Reef first hand. Even if you have never tried it before, snorkeling is made easy by the crews with in-water assistance and flotation devices for beginners. With a few tips, once you are in the water you will glide effortlessly over the fragile coral and be amongst the many species of fish in the Coral Sea.
Its no wonder, one in three Australians include visiting the Great Barrier Reef on their “must do” list. A day out on the Great Barrier Reef is truly inspiring and unforgettable.