The Greatest Reef: 7 Reasons to Visit the Great Barrier Reef Now

The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage listed natural wonder. Lying just off the coast of Cairns, the world’s largest coral reef is a truly beautiful place to be.

Here are 7 reasons why you should make visiting this gorgeous coastal haven a priority:

1) Cairns; the city where it’s summer all year ‘round

One of the great things about taking a trip up to the Great Barrier Reef is the opportunity to visit the tropical city of Cairns. Enjoy your summer holiday any time of the year (the temperature is rarely below 25 degrees) in this fabulous city that feels just like a big country town. Be sure to grab some cane sugar on your drive in. It won’t be hard; the stuff is growing everywhere!

2) Whale watching

30 species of whale, dolphin and porpoise live in the reef. You know what that means? Whale watching. Cairns Whale Watching will take you on a trip around the deeper waters on the reef, with peak season between May and September. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the only all-white Humpback whale in the world, affectionately known as ‘Migaloo.’

3) Snorkelling

If you’d rather be in the water, snorkelling might be a better option. Enjoy spotting some of the reef’s 1500 species of fish as you squeeze into your wetsuit and venture below the surface. If you’re bringing kids, snorkelling is a great way to spot Nemo and his friends hanging out in their anemones.

4) …but if you’d rather make your time in the water a little more exciting, surfing is an option that people don’t often consider when planning a trip to the reef. The top spot for surf is down the southern end of the reef, where the coral – beautiful as it is – is more sparse.

5) The reef is an essential part of Australia’s tourism economy

Beauty aside, the reef is also a key earner for Tourism Australia, and for Queensland. Tourism to the reef generates around $4-5 billion a year and, in the aftermath of natural disasters throughout the south of Queensland, a few more people taking trips to the reef right now is exactly what the state could use.

6) Hamilton Island

But your trip to the reef doesn’t have to just be about exploring what’s below the surface. The Whitsundays Islands offer a range of experiences for whatever your idea of relaxation is. Hamilton Island is popular with families and couples alike. You can take a scenic helicopter flight over the reef or engage in some responsible game fishing. Better yet, transport on the island exists entirely in the form of golf buggies. But they’re trying to bring cars to the island, so you’d better visit soon.

7) It’s not going to be around for much longer

Unfortunately, the climate change is starting to take its toll on the reef. With processes such as coral bleaching (which turns the reef’s bright colours to a miserable grey) and illegal overfishing threatening to destroy the reef, it is already a far cry from what it was a generation ago. Visit while you can.

Frances Ward is a writer who would love to just escape it all and run away to the Great Barrier Reef. On her bucket list is learning to surf – she’s currently looking at purchasing equipment from FCS surf before she makes her reef debut.