Most people head directly to Cairns or Airlie Beach and take a liveaboard from there. Youcan find some great deals for a few days of diving and this really is the best way to see the reef. Most of the dive sites on the outer reef are about three hours away and sometimes the water can be a little rough so you might want to reconsider a day trip if you want to see the best sites.
You’ll find dive centres in most of the major towns and there are so many dive sites along the Queensland Coast that you might be a little overwhelmed if you don’t have much time.
Since the Great Barrier Reef holds the greatest concentration of life on the planet, you can expect to see some pretty spectacular things. With nearly 10,000 different plant and animals species and more being discovered every day, this is the place to see the things you only dreamed about. Whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, mantas and so many other different species of rays, sea snakes, every reef fish imaginable and some almost as big as you! A macro lover’s paradise so photography enthusiasts will be delighted.
You’d need a year to see everything that the reef has offer so we can suggest some really great sites for you to start with. The best wreck dive in the world is just off the coast of Townsville, the SS Yongala. This should be the number one site on your list if you love wrecks. Lady Elliot Island boasts some of the clearest waters in the country and spotting a manta ray or shark is almost guaranteed.
If you have the money then the diving off Lizard Island is the most remote destinations in the country and some of the most pristine reefs can be found here. The most popular spot that people head to are the Whitsunday Islands, just off the coast of Airlie Beach and this is a great place to learn diving so you’re prepared for diving adventures ahead of you on the outer reef.
Snorkelling on the Barrier Reef is just as popular as diving and most companies will take snorkelers with them on the liveaboards and dive trips. The whole coastline is notorious for its stingers which can be deadly so be sure to wear a stinger suit in season to avoid an abrupt halt to your holiday.
If you don’t quite make up so far north, you can still find some excellent diving around Brisbane and Moreton Island. The Flinders Reef is probably the best spot off the coast here. You’ll find a good few wrecks around the area to explore too.
If you get a chance to see the wonders of Queensland ’s diving then you’ll be more than spoilt for choice and diversity and this will quickly become your favourite place in the world to dive.
(By Kelly Luckman)
Probably the most visited state in the whole of Australia due to the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is affectionately known as the ‘Sunshine State’ and holds the slogan: Beautiful one day, perfect the next and rightly so. The whole coastline is a treasure trove of wonderful things to discover so hire a car and stop in some of the coastal towns to really appreciate the beauty this area has to offer.
You can fly into one of the international airports such as Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Cairns and the whole state is well connected with regular domestic flights to the smaller cities or Great Barrier Reef islands. To really get a good taste of Queensland then hire or buy a car and do it by road, but only if you have a good amount of time as it’s a long drive between towns. There is also a hop on hop off bus if you’d prefer.
A good way to save on accommodation is to buy a small Combi van with a bed in the back and stop at all the camping grounds along the coast. Queensland is full of national parks and it’s really lovely to sleep in natural surroundings. You’ll also find budget hostels in every town but if your budget isn’t an issue, then beach front resorts are a plenty.
The Gold Coast is the most popular beach city and inland you’ll find the Springbrook National Park , one of the most beautiful parks in southern Queensland . Brisbane is the capital of the state and a great cultural city full of fabulous live music and some of the friendliest people in the country.
Just north of the capital is the Sunshine Coast , full of little beachside towns and some excellent surf spots. Airlie Beach would have to be the budget diving mecca along the east coast and the place for backpackers. Cairns is probably the most popular city for exploring the Great Barrier Reef islands and just north is the amazing Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation, both areas are not to be missed.
Whether you love the beach or forest, you’ll find both in close proximity along the coast, making this an excellent place for nature enthusiasts. Diving and snorkelling is probably the most popular water activities and surfing would be up there as well. There are nature walks everywhere you look and trying to spot some of the local wildlife is a must. Australia has some of the strangest animals in the world and seeing them in the wild is a special experience.
Queenslanders love to have a good time and hanging out in the local beer gardens is a favourite. It’s all about the beer and sunshine, hence the reason why they’re such happy people! If you get the opportunity to attend a BBQ then you’ll get a true taste of food culture, a little secret to the perfect meat is throwing a little beer over the cooking meat. The seafood along the coast of Queensland is delectable and although expensive, it’s a meal that can’t be missed. Try the local fish and chips shop instead of a restaurant if you’re on a budget.
You’re in for a wild adventure on your trip to Queensland . It has the biggest reef in the world, countless parks and forests to explore and such natural beauty that you’ll never want to leave!
(By Kelly Luckman)