If you’re planning a trip to Queensland you’ve no doubt been told that you have to visit the Great Barrier Reef. And that’s one of the best recommendations someone could ever give you. One of the few places that EVERYONE should visit at least one time in their lifetime, it’s beautiful, stunning, and life-changing. That’s why I decided to write about the tons of interesting facts about the Great Barrier Reef has to offer that will make you want to visit it.
So what’s all the fuss about? To understand what’s so important about this unique part of the world – and to make sure you make the most of it on your visit – take a look at these fast facts below…
What is it?
• The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system, made up of nearly 3000 individual reefs
• It covers an area of 300,000 square kilometers. (The Great Barrier Reef is so extensive that it can be seen from space, and covers an area that is bigger than the whole of Italy. Bigger, in fact, than the UK, Holland, and Switzerland combined.)
• It holds over 900 individual islands, many of which you can visit for a day trip or an overnight stay.
• It is World Heritage Listed and has long been considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Why is it so special?
It is an underwater wonderland, ready for you to explore…
• It holds an abundance of rich marine life: 1500 species of fish, 4000 types of mollusks, and hundreds of varieties of coral. It also attracts more than 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, as well as 6 different types of turtles.
• The adjacent Queensland coast and reef islands hold a remarkable combination of rain forests, Australian bushland and pristine beaches, making up land and sea spaces unlike anywhere else on earth.
What should visitors expect?
A new type of paradise, combining natural wonders with opportunities for exciting activities too. You can expect to find:
• Snorkeling, glass-bottom boat tours, diving expeditions – a myriad of ways to explore the vibrant color and life this reef has to offer.
• Easy-to-book day trips and overnight packages to visit the islands.
• An abundance of accommodation options – you’ll find world-class resorts or places to camp out under the stars, plus everything in between. You’re sure to find something to suit your style and budget.
When should you visit?
The Reef itself is beautiful year-round, but there are still some key things to consider when planning your trip. The peak season is from June to October when rainfall is uncommon. (It is worth noting though that Australian school holiday periods throughout this time frame can mean increases in hotel prices to match the higher demand.)
In a nutshell:
• Winter: June – August
The Australian winter in this part of the world sees the average temperature range from 17.5c – 26 c. There is generally low rainfall through this period.
• Spring: September – November
Temperatures are more likely to sit at around 29c, and the colorful reef comes alive with the annual coral spawning in November. Humidity starts to build through September, and the wet season starts in earnest from December.
The low season (between November and May) means high chances of significant rainfall, plus the onset of the stinger season which can impact opportunities for swimming too.
How to plan your trip:
The Great Barrier Reef is accessible from many different points along the coast of Queensland. The most notable are Port Douglas and Cairns. The main decision to consider is whether you will be satisfied with a day trip, or whether you plan to book accommodation and settle in to enjoy your surroundings. If you’re setting off from Cairns, Fitzroy Island Resort is easily accessible (just 45 minutes by ferry) and offers a great range of activities. You can explore the rain forests, go for a hike or explore the reef by snorkeling, diving, or taking a glass-bottom boat tour. You can throw yourself into the relaxed atmosphere of the bar and restaurant scene, or find yourself in a secluded area on the beach to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings – this part of Queensland really does have something for everyone.