Explore the Great Barrier Reef on the 10 Best Daytrips

Heart - Add to profile
Book Flights

BOOK NOW

May 31, 2016

by MORAG KOBEZ, Writer

There are so many ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef’s vast coral reefs, lush islands, stunning white-sand beaches and incredible sea life.

There are so many ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef’s vast coral reefs, lush islands, stunning white-sand beaches and incredible sea life. Hop on a yacht, climb aboard a kayak or simply spread your kiteboarding wings and fly…

Snorkel at Green Island

Cruise to Green Island marine park from Cairns and snorkel among thousands of colourful fish or stay dry and observe them from a glass-bottom boat or semi-submarine. It’s not just about the fish, though – feeding time at the island’s Marineland Crocodile Park is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Kiteboard at Upolu Cay or Vlasoff Cay

Take a helicopter or boat ride from Cairns for a day of kiteboarding at Upolu Cay or Vlasoff Cay with Kite Rite. Located about 20 kilometres offshore from Cairns, both cays offer steady south-east winds averaging 20 knots and calm water lapping on sandy shores. Kiteboarding on the reef is interrupted only by lunch served on the beach.

Dive at the Agincourt Reefs

Climb aboard a sleek, high-speed catamaran in Port Douglas and spend the day exploring the pristine dive sites of the Agincourt Reefs, including Barracuda Bommie, Nursery Bommie, Helms Deep and Turtle Bay. Blue Dive caters for all levels of diving proficiency and runs introductory dives for first-timers.

Sail around the Family and Barnard islands

Set sail from Clump Point at Mission Beach on the beautiful 18-metre yacht Big Mama to explore private beaches around the Family and Barnard islands, stopping to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the reef. A maximum of 12 passengers makes for a highly personalised experience, which includes whale watching between June and September.

Horseride on Magnetic Island

Take the ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island and experience its rocky landscape, which is dramatically different to most other islands on the reef. At Horseshoe Bay Ranch, trek through the eucalypt woodlands on horseback on a picturesque two-hour journey that ends with a bareback ride along the beach and through the shallows.

Kayak around Airlie Beach

Set out with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking on a full- or half-day kayak tour from Shute Harbour, paddling your way to nearby White Rock for snorkelling and swimming. Then cross Molle Passage in your kayak to South Molle Island and keep your eyes peeled for the giant sea turtles, dolphins and sea eagles that call this area home.

Go four-wheel driving on Fraser Island

Take the barge from Hervey Bay to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, and experience the sand “highway” on 75 Mile Beach during a guided 4WD tour with Fraser Explorer Tours. See the SS Maheno shipwreck that was washed ashore during a cyclone in 1935 and enjoy the natural beauty of dramatic coloured sand formations and freshwater lakes and creeks.

SEE ALSO: 10 Most Romantic Islands of the Great Barrier Reef

Look down from up high

From Cairns, take to the sky for a bird’s-eye view of the reef. Experience the serenity of floating in a hot air balloon at dawn, the exhilaration of a helicopter joy flight that takes in the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest or the excitement of flying in a small plane over the islands. For the ultimate airborne thrill, skydive from 14,000 feet.

Explore the depths in a submarine off Fitzroy Island

Great Barrier Reef Submarines operates mini-submarine dives from Welcome Bay on Fitzroy Island. Who knows what weird and wonderful sea creatures will swim past the window of your little yellow submarine when you explore the coral gardens to a depth of up to 10 metres?

Fish for giant marlin off Lizard Island

The waters surrounding Lizard Island boast world-class fishing – both light tackle and game fishing. The staggering variety of fish here includes the highly prized black marlin (which can weigh in at a massive 450 kilograms), mackerel, tuna, mahi-mahi, queenfish and trevally. Chartering your own luxury cruiser for the day is the ultimate angler’s adventure.

SEE ALSO: Explore our full guide to the Great Barrier Reef