Recreation on the Great Barrier Reef

Recreation is one of the major uses of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It is woven into the social fabric of coastal communities all along the Queensland coast and generates significant regional economic value.

The Great Barrier Reef attracts over 14 million recreational visits a year, mainly to boat, fish, sail, dive, snorkel and swim. Recreation in the Marine Park is mostly nature-based and relies on a healthy ecosystem.

If you want to visit the Great Barrier Reef, we encourage you plan your visit beforehand and follow Responsible Reef Practices while you are there.

The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009 found the Great Barrier Reef supports a wide variety of recreational activities and the impacts of recreation are mainly localised in inshore areas around major population centres. It also found visitors to the Great Barrier Reef are consistently very happy with their visit and would recommend the experience.  

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is one of a number of managing agencies with responsibilities for managing recreation in the Great Barrier Reef. The GBRMPA employs a range of management tools, from regulation and site planning to partnership programs and education. All are supported by risk-based compliance and enforcement.

The Recreation Management Strategy for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park provides an overarching framework for managing recreation by the GBRMPA. It facilitates more coordinated management and sets out in the public arena the management approach of the GBRMPA.

The risk-based strategy focuses on:

  • Understanding recreational use
  • Working with others
  • Education and public awareness
  • Best practice
  • In-Park management.

The use of super-yachts for recreation is becoming increasingly popular in the Marine Park. A super-yacht is a luxury vessel of 24 metres or more in length. The management arrangements for these larger recreational vessels are set out in A Statement of Management Arrangements in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for Super-Yacht Operations.