The Great Barrier Reef needs no introduction

It's one of the world's seven natural wonders. It's home to over 1,600 types of fish, 30 species of whale and dolphin, and 215 varieties of birds. And it's the planet's largest coral reef system. In fact, it's so big that astronauts have seen it from space. After dry land adventures along Queensland's East Coast, hit the water with professional marine biologists to explore this fascinating underwater world. Look out for clownfish peeking out of anemones, inquisitive Maori wrasse gliding below or turtles munching on seagrass.

Our Great Barrier Reef tours

14 Days From 4122

See the natural wonders of Queensland and New South Wales on an adventure through the...

8 Days From 2403

Discover K'gari (formerly Fraser Island), the Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Mission...

5 Days From 1802

Take a five-day adventure tour through the coastal wilderness of Kuku Yalanji land,...

13 Days From 4055

Bask in the beauty of north-east Queensland on an adventure that takes you to the Great...

5 Days From 1802

From Cairns, take a trip to explore Port Douglas, Daintree Rainforest, the Great...

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

12 Days From 4055

12 days to uncover Queensland’s best, from Brisbane to K'gari (Fraser Island), the...

12 Days From 5347

Experience the full range of Australia’s natural wonder, with visits to the Blue...

14 Days From 4122

Travelling from Sydney to Cairns, soak up the best of Australia’s east coast beaches,...

6 Days From 1675

This nature-fuelled trip will take you from Cairns to Kuranda, Mareeba, Mossman Gorge,...

8 Days From 2403

From Brisbane, you’ll visit Noosa Heads, K’gari (Fraser Island), Hervey Bay, Airlie...

18 Days From 5841

Travelling from Sydney to Cairns, soak up the best of Australia’s east coast beaches,...

7 Days From 2403

Explore the best of Queensland’s coast and islands on a 7-day adventure, including...

Highlights of the Great Barrier Reef

Baby turtles making their way to water

Watch turtles hatch

Watch Loggerhead, Flatback and Green turtles walk up the beach to dig a nest and lay their eggs at Mon Repos near Bundaberg, the largest turtle rookery in the South Pacific. Up to 150 tiny hatchlings emerge most nights and scuttle into the waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Heron Island is also a significant breeding area for these gentle creatures from November to February.

Whale breaching

Go whale watching

Seeing these incredible animals breaching, spraying water into the air, and slapping their tails on top of the water to communicate with other whales is an experience not to be missed. Whale watching season on the Great Barrier Reef runs from July to November, with Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsundays and Hervey Bay being some of the top spots.

Snorkeller with a turtle

Snorkel the reef

Pack your swimmers and get ready for an unforgettable aquatic adventure. Sunlight sparkles on the ocean, the sun warms your back and colourful fish tempt you to jump in and experience their watery world. Keep watch for different types of rays dwelling near the ocean bed, giant clams, potato cod and striking parrotfish among heaps of other marine life.

Kayaking tour with blue water

Board a glass-bottomed boat

If you want to get a good look at the Great Barrier Reef's beautiful coral gardens and fish but aren’t keen on getting your feet wet, jump aboard a glass-bottomed boat. You'll enjoy a buffet lunch and afternoon tea on board while spotting wildlife with an expert guide.

Great Barrier Reef tour reviews

Great Barrier Reef FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

Most of our East Coast trips begin in Sydney, Cairns or Brisbane. Some of the most popular launching pads for the Great Barrier Reef are Airlie Beach, Townsville and Port Douglas. These destinations are all serviced by commercial airlines. It's also possible to drive to one of the towns near the Great Barrier Reef and access the wonders of the underwater world on a small group tour.

Find out how to get to the Great Barrier Reef

There are only two seasons along the reef – the dry season (winter) from May to October and the wet season (summer) from November to April. The temperatures are fairly consistent throughout the year with average highs of 30°C and lows of 21°C.

May through October is considered to be the best time to experience the reef as rainfall is low and water visibility is high. You may also see whales during their annual migration from the Antarctic.

If you're visiting between October and May, it's advisable to wear a stinger suit to protect yourself from possible jellyfish stings.

Read more about the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef

Read more about if you need to wear a stinger suit at the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef tends to be a casual place so you can leave your fancy clothes at home. Even if you're staying at a high-end resort, smart casual clothes are all you will need. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a must, even in winter, as the sun reflects off the water and white sand. Bring essentials such as basic medications with you won't find any shops when you're out exploring the reef. 

In short, pretty much non-existent unless you're near one of the major tourist hubs such as Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays or on the mainland at a town like Airlie Beach.

Unless you're near one of the major tourist spots, it's unlikely you will be able to get a mobile phone signal. 

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. The abundance of sand in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef can make walking difficult for travellers who are less mobile on foot. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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