Last Updated: 7th Jun 2012
The Great Barrier Reef is an absolute natural wonder that words alone simply cannot describe. Home to a simply amazing array of fish, coral, birds, turtles, whales, dolphins it is a World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.
From afar, everything about the reef is big. It is the largest ‘living’ organism in the world, the biggest of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and the only living thing that can be seen from outer space.
Up close and personal however is where the Reef is at it’s best.
It is an exhilarating feeling to slip on a pair of goggles and peer into a whole new underwater world. It’s hard not to be blown away by the experience of snorkeling or scuba diving on the Reef. Viewing the Reef thought glass-bottomed boats and semi-submersibles as well as educational trips to learn about the marine environment also provide an unforgettable connection to nature.
These however are just some of the ways people enjoy this natural wonder with fishing, swimming, helicopter and airplane flights over the Reef also being popular.
The very saline water, temperature and crystal clear water off the Queensland coast provides the perfect conditions for the coral reefs to flourish and grow providing the foundation for this incredible abundance of life and colour.
The Great Barrier Reef is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and with about 1.6 million tourists a year now visiting the Reef Marine Park, mainly from places like Cairns and in the Whitsundays, the organization has had to put in place many measures to help preserve the Reef and minimize impact upon its ecosystem.
Off the Cairns coastline are outer edge ribbon reefs. The outer reefs can be seen by taking one of the daily outer reef cruises offered by local operators. As these reefs are less accessible and often less patronized by visitors, they tend to be in superior condition to the closer inner reefs. Most Contiki Tours visiting Cairns and the Whitsundays offer optional excursions on an Outer Barrier Reef Cruise.