Cairns

Cairns is known as the main gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. To get out on the reef tours range from small boats where you dive or snorkel off the boat, to bigger tours where you moor at a pontoon and from there participate in the many different water activities on offer.

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If you have young kids like us, we believe the pontoon experience to be the most practical way to have a day out on the reef, instead of being stuck on a cramped boat all day. We chose Marine World at Moore Reef with Reef Magic Tours after hearing they were one of the best for families. The all-weather Marine World platform caters for all activity levels and I took advantage of the introductory scuba dive from here.

Green Island

Green Island is a beautiful coral cay located 45 minutes by boat from Cairns and makes for a lovely day trip. It’s a sand island surrounded by coral reef and protected in the Green Island National Park, and is great for families. You can snorkel straight off the shore allowing for easy access and our kids loved seeing a few stingrays!

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On land there’s a nice boardwalk through the forest to the other side of the island, and whilst your kiddies play in the water you can enjoy a massage.

Airlie Beach

The vibrant town of Airlie Beach makes for a great base in exploring The Whitsundays which we believe have the best islands of the Great Barrier Reef region. It’s hard to compete with world famous Whitehaven Beach which consistently ranks as one of the top 5 beaches in the world.

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Besides visiting Whitehaven there’s good snorkelling around Langford Island, Maureens Cove and Manta-Ray Bay. And of course flying over iconic heart reef has to be on everybody’s bucket list.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas is a fantastic town in Tropical North Queensland with magical sunsets, family friendly 4 Mile Beach, a village atmosphere and the popular Sunday markets. From here you are close to Palm Cove, Mossman Gorge and World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest.

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The town is a popular launching point for getting out on the Great Barrier Reef. Calypso Reef Cruises get great reviews as a tour operator, as does the pontoon experience at Agincourt Reef with Quicksilver Cruises. And Opal Reef consistently ranks as the #1 thing to do out on the reef.

Town of 1770

The sleepy Town of 1770 sits in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region and a popular day trip is out to Lady Musgrave Island, another stunning coral cay. The 75 minute boat ride can get a little bumpy depending on the time of year, but it’s worth it.

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On the island you can walk through the mystical looking forest and learning more about how it was created and walk along stunning beaches. The snorkeling here wasn’t as good as we had at Marine World, but we did see a few turtles and the island itself is uninhabited, and visually beautiful.

Yeppoon

Great Keppel Island is a quick 30 minute ferry ride from the town of Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast and has some of the best beaches of any Southern Great Barrier Reef island, 15 white-sand beaches in total. On a day trip choose from a glass-bottom boat tour, snorkeling (the best spots being Shelving Beach, Monkey Point and Clam Bay) kayaking, and a sunset cruise.

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The two main beaches near the village are safe for swimming making it perfect for families, and dolphins and whales can be spotted in the bay during the winter months.

 

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