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Overview

The Great Barrier Reef is an unrivaled oceanic phenomenon, a system of nearly 3,000 separate reefs that stretches more than 1,400 miles from southern Queensland to the tip of Cape York Peninsula. Snorkelers and scuba divers take to the warm waters of the South Pacific here to float alongside kaleidoscopic coral cliffs and to waggle their fingers at the many hundreds of species of resident fish, as well as the odd passing dolphin or dugong. Divers also get to check out eerie unnatural scenery like the Yongala shipwreck off Townsville. Cruises in glass-bottom boats offer a far less taxing experience of the reef’s wonders, though nothing really ...

The Great Barrier Reef is an unrivaled oceanic phenomenon, a system of nearly 3,000 separate reefs that stretches more than 1,400 miles from southern Queensland to the tip of Cape York Peninsula. Snorkelers and scuba divers take to the warm waters of the South Pacific here to float alongside kaleidoscopic coral cliffs and to waggle their fingers at the many hundreds of species of resident fish, as well as the odd passing dolphin or dugong. Divers also get to check out eerie unnatural scenery like the Yongala shipwreck off Townsville. Cruises in glass-bottom boats offer a far less taxing experience of the reef’s wonders, though nothing really compares to the feeling of being in the water with this living marvel. Among the Great Barrier Reef’s spectacular coral cays – formed when the reef rises up above sea level – is Lady Musgrave Island, an unpopulated paradise where campers can intentionally maroon themselves. Similarly beguiling is Lady Elliott Island, which is surrounded by pristine dive sites.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: Australian Dollar
  • Research: Great Barrier Reef | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Anytime except between November and March because of high humidity and the occasional cyclone