Experiences on offer
A number of experiences, activities and tours are available in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park:
- Aircraft or helicopter tours - There is nothing quite like seeing this amazing environment from the sky - a small number of operators can offer you the flight of a lifetime. Some operate to small pontoons stationed at reefs, some to larger vessels and others land right on the water.
- Bareboats (self-sail) – If you would like to control your own destiny, bareboats offer an exclusively designed experience and are especially popular around the islands of the Whitsundays. Bareboats are vessels no longer than six metres, motorised or with sail. They are not chartered with crew; that part is up to you but be sure you get a briefing from the operator before you go out!
- Beach hire - Prefer to enjoy the island beaches? Then keep your eye out for beach hire.
- Cruise ships – Hundreds of passengers are now experiencing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef onboard luxury cruise ships.
- Day tours - Most tourists visit the Great Barrier Reef on a day tour, whether it be on large high speed catamarans to outer reef pontoons or smaller sailing and cruising vessels. The popular areas continue to be Cairns and the Whitsundays, both offering unique experiences.
- Diving and fishing charters – If you are after adventure and like to be right in amongst the environment you can choose a diving or fishing adventure.
- Long range roving tours - Long range rovers are a special group of operators who can offer you customised charters through the Marine Park. Groups are small and the trips can cover long distances and provide you with the experience you want.
- Motorised water sports – Fun and adrenalin, we must be talking about parasailing and jet ski tours, which can also be available for your enjoyment at island resorts and popular beach towns along the Great Barrier Reef coast.
- Overnight and extended tours – Those fortunate enough to have more time to explore the Marine Park can choose to stay overnight on boats and islands.
- Passenger ferries – When you need to get from here to there on a regular basis, or are fortunate enough to live on one of tropical islands, then a passenger ferry becomes an affordable necessity.
- Super-yachts - These luxury vessels can be either used recreationally or may be available for commercial charter. Either way they are a top of the range experience but you need to know the rules for super-yachts in the Marine Park.
- Whale watching and swimming with whales - Few things are more amazing than viewing these magnificent creatures on their winter journey to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
If you wish to experience the Great Barrier Reef with a commercial tourism operator, remember to choose a high standard tourism operation who is caring for the Reef.
If you are going out by yourself or with friends, remember to make sure that you conduct your activities in a responsible way and know the rules for the popular areas and specific locations you visit.
If you're heading out on the water, download and use the free zoning app so you know where you can go and what you can do.
We're delighted to celebrate the 40 years of the managing the Great Barrier Reef.
Visit our Great Barrier Reef and discover its amazing animals, plants, and habitats.
Everyone has a role to play in protecting our Great Barrier Reef. Find out what you can do to help protect this great Australian icon.
If you see sick, dead or stranded marine animals please call RSPCA QLD 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)
A Vulnerability Assessment: of the issues that could have far-reaching consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.
Current Conditions: Environmental and climatic forecasts for the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is under pressure. Many people, including Reef Guardians, are making a difference.
Become a marine scientist for a day Download our free app to share your sightings.
Published every five years, our Outlook Report provides an overview of Reef health and management.
Learn more about how the Australian and Queensland are managing the Reef through Reef 2050.