Recreational superyachts 70 metres and above are able to access all zones except for the Preservation Zone (pink zone) of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Some areas that experience high use or have high conservation values have additional management provisions that apply to vessels of this size. These areas include:

  • Offshore Cairns and Port Douglas (covered by the Cairns Planning Area)
  • Hinchinbrook
  • The Whitsundays

Cairns Planning Area

The Cairns Planning Area extends from the Ribbon Reefs in the north to the Frankland Islands in the south. It includes all islands and reefs offshore from Port Douglas and Cairns and covers about six per cent of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The boundary of a 'Location' in this area is generally 500 metres from the reef edge.

  • You are able to access designated anchorages, please make a booking.
  • You are able to anchor outside any Location and use your tender to access the Location, provided the group size in the tender is correct for that Location (see the Cairns Area Plan of Management Guide for maps identifying the different types of Locations):
    • Low-use Location - maximum 15 people
    • Moderate-use Location - maximum 60 people
    • Intensive-use Location - no limit.
  • Some specific recreational activities may have special rules. Please click on the links below for more information:

Please refer to the Cairns Area Plan of Management for more detailed information.

Hinchinbrook Planning Area

The Hinchinbrook Planning Area extends from Dunk Island in the north to Halifax Bay in the south. This represents less than one per cent of the Marine Park.

The boundary of a 'Location' in this area is generally 500 metres from the reef edge.

  • You are able to access designated anchorages, please make a booking.
  • You are able to anchor outside a Location and use your tender to access the Location.
  • When using your vessel's tender please use the Hinchinbrook Planning Area voluntary transit lanes.
  • When accessing this area with your tender, please observe the following speed limits:
    • 25 knots within transit lanes
    • 10 knots outside the transit lanes over seagrass beds
    • 10 knots when traveling near a large sea animal (for example, a dugong, dolphin or marine turtle).
  • You must operate your tender at less than six knots within 100 metres of the Mound (Portaboi) Island or 200 metres of any other significant bird site. The significant bird sites are mainly in the Brook Islands Group with some further south and one to the east of Hinchinbrook Island.
  • Some specific recreational activities may have special rules. Please click on the links below for more information:

Please refer to the Hinchinbrook Plan of Management for more detailed information.

Whitsunday Planning Area

For information about superyacht use in the Whitsundays specifically you can view the printable Superyacht Guide to the Whitsundays or see further information below:

The Whitsunday Planning Area covers waters and islands from Cape Gloucester in the north to Repulse and Thomas Islands in the south.

In the Whitsunday Planning Area superyachts 70 metres and over are able to access:

You are also able to transit through a setting when travelling to and from a designated anchorage.

Make sure you are also aware of the locations of no-anchoring areas and significant bird sites.

Some specific recreational activities may have special rules. Please click on the links below for more information:

Please refer to the Whitsundays Plan of Management or the Superyacht Guide to the Whitsundays for more detailed information.

Special management areas

Restricted Access Special Management Areas cannot be accessed except where permitted. These are located at:

Refer to the Zoning Plan for further details.

Maritime Cultural Heritage Protection Special Management Areas are highly significant sites and you may only access these areas with a permit. These areas are:

  • Catalina A24-24 (see zoning map MPZ10) located offshore from Bowen
  • Catalina A24-25 (see zoning map MPZ6) located offshore from Bramston Beach.

Special access requirements also apply at the Yongala historic shipwreck and other historic shipwreck sites. Visit historic shipwreck protected zones for more information.

Compulsory pilotage areas

To provide safer navigation through the Great Barrier Reef waters, all vessels greater than 70 metres are required under Commonwealth law to carry a licensed pilot in designated compulsory pilotage areas. The compulsory pilotage areas are:

  • the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef Region bounded by the northern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Region, latitude 16°39.91'S, the Australian mainland and the outer eastern edge of the Great Barrier Reef
  • Hydrographer's Passage
  • the Whitsundays compulsory pilotage area.

Learn more about compulsory pilotage, the compulsory pilotage area and pilotage exemptions.

If you wish to enter one of Queensland’s Ports contact the Regional Harbour Master for instructions. Further information on port procedures and contact details can be viewed at the Maritime Safety Queensland* website.

Participation in ReefVTS

Vessels with an overall length of 50 metres or greater are required to participate in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service (REEFVTS).

This service provides vessels with shipping traffic information, navigational assistance and maritime safety information to aid on-board decision making.

Contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Maritime Safety Queensland for more details.