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Great Barrier Reef

The largest coral reef in the world lies just off the coast of Cairns and offers thousands of kilometers of coral, marine life and untouched white sand beaches.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It stretches for 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) in the warm waters off the coast of North Queensland. The reef is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, secluded islands and crystal-clear waters brimming with coral and marine life. The World Heritage listed site is best visited by day trip from Cairns. Snorkel, dive or cruise the reef on a glass-bottomed boat.

This is the world’s largest coral reef. It encompasses close to 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch over almost 133,000 square miles (350,000 square kilometers). It’s estimated to be about 600,000 years old, and is renowned for its stunning biodiversity. See tropical fish, sea turtles, whales, dolphins, porpoises, molluscs and giant clams that are more than 120 years old. Living organisms like sponges and starfish feed off the coral.

The best way to enjoy the reef is to get on a boat and head out to sea. You can organize tours from the central tourism office in Cairns. There are a range of different tour companies and packages to choose from, whether you want to snorkel or dive, charter a yacht or stay overnight on an island. If you prefer to stay dry, sign up for a cruise on a glass-bottomed boat and explore the reef in an underwater observatory. 



Many islands make up the Great Barrier Reef, and some are easily reached by day trip from Cairns. The islands range from low-lying sand cays surrounded by crystal-clear water, to popular holiday islands dotted with resorts. Island hop as part of a tour or book a seat on a sea plane and spend a couple of nights in a luxury resort.


June to October is considered peak season when there is the best water conditions and the most number of visitors. Come outside this season for reduced rates on accommodation and tours. The average seawater temperature is 79 F (26 C), and the air temperature is warm in winter and hot in summer. 




It takes anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours to reach the reef from Cairns.


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Map

Lodging Near Great Barrier Reef

See all 179 Hotels near Great Barrier Reef
$136
Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Caters to LGBT Guests

Turtle Cove Beach Resort - Caters to LGBT Guests

100 Captain Cook Hwy, Wangetti
4.2
of 5, from 50 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This Wangetti resort is on the beach, 5.1 mi (8.2 km) from Great Barrier Reef, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Hartley's Crocodile Adventures and Wildlife Habitat. Palm Cove Beach and Clifton Beach are also within 16 mi (25 km).

$126
Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground

Ellis Beach Oceanfront Bungalows - Campground

Captain Cook Highway, Ellis Beach
4.2
of 5, from 33 reviews
4.0 out of 5.0

This Ellis Beach campground is on the beach, 2.8 mi (4.6 km) from Palm Cove Beach, and within 6 mi (10 km) of Great Barrier Reef and Clifton Beach. Clifton Village Shopping Centre and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures are also within 6 mi (10 km).

$82
Mantra Amphora

Mantra Amphora

49-63 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove
4.1
of 5, from 531 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Palm Cove Beach, Clifton Beach, and Clifton Village Shopping Centre. Great Barrier Reef and Cattana Wetlands are also within 9 mi (15 km).

$96
Mango Lagoon Resort & Wellness Spa

Mango Lagoon Resort & Wellness Spa

81 - 85 Cedar Road, Palm Cove
4.1
of 5, from 414 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Situated by the ocean, this spa hotel is 0.7 mi (1.1 km) from Palm Cove Beach and within 3 mi (5 km) of Clifton Village Shopping Centre and Clifton Beach. Great Barrier Reef and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway are also within 9 mi (15 km).

$70
Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove

Hotel Grand Chancellor Palm Cove

Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove
4.1
of 5, from 540 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This family-friendly Palm Cove hotel is located near the beach, within 3 mi (5 km) of Palm Cove Beach, Clifton Village Shopping Centre and Clifton Beach. Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures are also within 9 mi (15 km).

$187
Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore

Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore

1 Veivers Road, Palm Cove
4.7
of 5, from 252 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Nestled on the beach, this Palm Cove aparthotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Palm Cove Beach, Clifton Beach, and Clifton Village Shopping Centre. Great Barrier Reef and Cattana Wetlands are also within 9 mi (15 km).

$80
Imagine Drift Palm Cove

Imagine Drift Palm Cove

Cnr Veivers Rd Williams Esp, Palm Cove
4.3
of 5, from 135 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Located in Palm Cove, this beachfront apartment is in the entertainment district and within 3 mi (5 km) of Palm Cove Beach, Clifton Beach, and Clifton Village Shopping Centre. Great Barrier Reef and Cattana Wetlands are also within 9 mi (15 km).

$333
The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast

The Sebel Palm Cove Coral Coast

Coral Coast Drive, Palm Cove
4.4
of 5, from 104 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Situated in Palm Cove, this golf apartment is 1.1 mi (1.8 km) from Palm Cove Beach and within 3 mi (5 km) of Clifton Village Shopping Centre and Clifton Beach. Great Barrier Reef and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway are also within 9 mi (15 km).