Things to do in
Great Barrier Reef

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Top sights in Great Barrier Reef

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Our most recommended things to do in Great Barrier Reef

Cairns: Full-Day Glass Bottom Boat Snorkel Tour

1. Cairns: Full-Day Glass Bottom Boat Snorkel Tour

Discover the lush rainforest of Green Island on this full-day snorkel tour and encounter some of the many marine animals that call the island home. Climb aboard the modern, air-conditioned catamaran "Reef Rocket" to cruise over to this idyllic part of the Great Barrier Reef, and enjoy a full-day reef tour just 45-minutes from Cairns. Snorkel and dive among the reef fish and coral gardens, or stay dry on a spectacular semi-submersible submarine or glass-bottom boat to discover the underwater life in comfort. Alternatively, simply laze on the white sandy beach and soak up the sun.

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From Cairns: Green Island Eco Adventure

2. From Cairns: Green Island Eco Adventure

Boasting a lush rainforest that is home to over 120 native plant species and colorful bird life, Green Island is surrounded by coral gardens and abundant marine life. The tropical island, just 45 minutes from Cairns offers the unique opportunity for a combined reef and rainforest tour. And with the choice of 3 daily departures, the Green Island eco adventure is perfect for a half or full-day experience with up to 7 hours on the beautiful Great Barrier Reef island. Your cruise includes the choice of an informative glass bottom boat coral viewing tour, or use of snorkeling equipment to snorkel directly off the sandy white beaches. Whether you’re up for adventurous activities or island relaxation, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can explore the island’s lush rainforest with a leisurely self guided walk, see the reef from the glass bottom boat coral viewing tour, snorkel from the beach, or take a refreshing dip in the island swimming pool. With an abundance of optional activities, you can scuba dive, take an offshore snorkel excursion, walk underwater with Seawalker helmet diving, kayak, or even take to the sky in a scenic helicopter flight. There's even the Marineland Melanesia crocodile habitat on the island! The island’s well appointed day visitor facilities include a pool bar, dive shop, plus restaurant and food outlets, where a delicious range of lunch, snacks and refreshments can be purchased.

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Cairns: Outer Great Barrier Reef Pontoon with Activities

3. Cairns: Outer Great Barrier Reef Pontoon with Activities

Sit back and relax on a catamaran cruise from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef, where you enjoy a raft of water activities from Moore Reef's pontoon. Encounter an outstanding landscape of marine life, enjoy a choice of activities including snorkeling, including a visit to the underwater observatory. Prior to departure from the marina, sip on some complimentary tea and coffee. Depart from Cairns’ Marlin Marina at 9:30 AM and enjoy a cruise out of the harbor. Witness the stunning landscape before the catamaran makes its way out to open seas. Sail in air-conditioned comfort onboard the catamaran to the state-of-the-art activity pontoon at Moore Reef. Moore Reef is a prime location on the Outer Great Barrier Reef, abundant with soft corals and marine life. Learn about the reef and its diverse ecosystems on the outward journey with presentations given by resident marine experts. Upon arrival at the pontoon at 11:30 AM, choose from an array of activities suitable for both swimmers and non-swimmers alike. Make use of the inclusive snorkeling equipment, with wetsuits and lycra also available at an additional charge. Alternatively, watch the daily fish feeding presentations, or take a trip on the glass bottom boat or semi-submersible tour with marine experts providing commentary. Soak up the rays on a spacious sun deck, or make a splash on a theme park-style waterslide. See the reef without getting wet in the underwater observatory, and get up close and personal with marine creatures like sea cucumbers and starfish.

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Cairns: Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Sailing Tour

4. Cairns: Green Island & Great Barrier Reef Sailing Tour

Board a classic sailboat with its crew and grab a Danish pastry, a piece of fresh fruit, and tea or coffee. Settle in the aft section or anywhere on the foredeck. Once all guests have boarded, the boat pulls away from the dock and the sails are hoisted. Lend a hand or just relax and watch. Enjoy the journey as your full-day program begins and Cairns disappears in the distance. Within 2 hours, arrive at the exclusive Great Barrier Reef mooring that’s just 1-kilometer off Green Island. From there, Pinnacle Reef awaits, and it’s just a step off the boat. After a snorkeling briefing, receive your snorkeling equipment, including a wet suit or lycra suit and snorkeling jacket. Be assisted as needed for the first snorkeling adventure. The crew will conduct many small, personal snorkeling tours that can be enjoyed throughout the day. Pinnacle Reef is a coral garden featuring several outcrops that allow for easy viewing. Expect to see hard and soft corals and numerous schools of colorful reef fish meandering through the coral garden. Stingrays, turtles, and black-tipped reef sharks (very shy and perfectly safe) are also a common sight. Enjoy a personal first dive (optional extra) with just 2 divers per instructor. No previous experience is required. If you are a certified diver, expect a small group with a complimentary dive guide. This tour is great for conservative diving, but not for deeper water or drift dives. After a morning of snorkeling and/or diving at this exclusive site, enjoy a large smorgasbord lunch back on board the boat. Feast on fresh Tasmanian salmon, prawns, mixed meats, chicken, and 3 different salads. Enjoy some land time on Green Island and relax on the beach or enjoy island activities (not included in the tour price). The short transfers to the island are by dinghy. You can opt to enjoy a cocktail at the island’s resort, walk across the island along an interpretative trail, or visit Marine Land Melanesia where you can see crocodiles (in captivity) and other marine life. Glass bottom boat tours and semi-submersible tours are also available. If you are interested in any of these optional island extras, inform the skipper when boarding the boat in the morning so that they can be booked. Note that the cost of these options is payable directly to the island operators on the day. You’ll have 4.5 hours to enjoy the reef and island, and how you divide your time between the reef and the island is up to you. Some opt to spend all day on the reef. After a day of reef and island activities, set sail for the return trip. Enjoy fresh fruit, cheese, and crackers, a glass of wine, and finally, a piece of cake to end on a sweet note. You’ll arrive back in Cairns at around 5:00 PM to 5:15 PM.

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Cairns: Great Barrier Reef 30-Minute Helicopter Flight

5. Cairns: Great Barrier Reef 30-Minute Helicopter Flight

Enjoy a spectacular view of Cairns city as you take off towards the world's largest coral reef system. Experience the sheer size and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and gain a true appreciation of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Sightings of manta rays, turtles and other marine life are not uncommon on the reef scenic flight and if you’re flying in the winter months there is even a chance of spotting whales. However, as the marine life are wild animals, this cannot be guaranteed. Your pilot will speak to you throughout the duration of the flight about the wildlife, view below and the aircraft. After a whole 30 minutes in the air, you will return to Cairns for the end of the tour.

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From Cairns: Green Island Half-Day Morning Cruise

6. From Cairns: Green Island Half-Day Morning Cruise

Discover the lush rainforest of Green Island on this half-day tour and encounter some of the many marine animals that call the island home. Climb aboard the modern, air-conditioned 24-meter catamaran "Reef Rocket" to cruise over to this idyllic part of the Great Barrier Reef, and enjoy a full-day reef tour just 45-minutes from Cairns. Snorkel and dive among the reef fish and coral gardens, or stay dry on a spectacular semi-submersible submarine or glass-bottom boat to discover the underwater life in comfort. Alternatively, simply laze on the white sandy beach and soak up the sun.

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From Cairns: Afternoon Cruise to Green Island

7. From Cairns: Afternoon Cruise to Green Island

Board a catamaran in Cairns and set sail towards the idyllic Green Island. Discover the natural beauty of this 600-year-old coral cay in an afternoon and explore the very best of what the island has to offer. You decide how you'll spend your time once you arrive at Green Island. Indulge in a few hours of relaxation and lounge on white sandy beaches or take a self-guided walk through the island's lush forest. If you prefer to stay dry, join a tour of the island's reef on a glass-bottom boat. Feeling more adventurous? Make use of the snorkeling gear provided and view the thriving marine life and reef up close. 

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Mission Beach: Great Barrier Reef Snorkel or Dive Cruise

8. Mission Beach: Great Barrier Reef Snorkel or Dive Cruise

Begin your adventure to the Great Barrier Reef by boarding the Island Spirit between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM. You will need to wear your swimmers to walk from the beach through water up to your knees. Take a quick 10-minute transfer to the beautiful Dunk Island and there you will board the MV Reef Goddess.  At 9:30 AM, have an introduction and safety briefing from your captain, then depart Brammo Bay at Dunk Island and head off to the East at 16 knots. Reach your first reef location in under 1.5 hours. In the water at your first Outer Great Barrier Reef location, you will have 1 hour to explore the untouched reefs with your crew on hand to assist with your gear and get going. A snorkel or dive briefing will cover what to do and what not to do to ensure your safety and enjoyment at the reef as well as the protection of the reef.  At 12:00 PM, depart the reef and take a 30-minute cruise to the second snorkel location. Here, the ship's captain will cook your BBQ lunch, which will be served alongside fresh prawns, salads, and fresh tropical fruit. After your well-earned lunch, begin your second of snorkel or dive exploration. After this snorkel or dive, your crew will up anchor and head for home back to Dunk Island.

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Museum Of Underwater Art & Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

9. Museum Of Underwater Art & Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

Begin your journey from the Townsville Breakwater Marina, or from Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island. Sail to the Central Section of the Great Barrier Reef on a custom-built day vessel. First, visit the Museum Of Underwater Art (MOUA) located offshore on the John Brewer Reef. Surrounded by the beautiful and colorful coral reefs, explore this underwater site which is the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Learn more about conservation, restoration, and education about the issues affecting the reefs, with a strong emphasis placed on indigenous culture and history. See The Coral Greenhouse, the first submerged building design by artist Jason deCaires Taylor. After exploring the MOUA, explore other sections of the reef with dives ranging from a depth of 1 to 20 meters suitable for snorkelers, beginner, and experienced divers. See schools of baitfish as well as an abundance of colorful reef fish including Parrotfish, Maori wrasse, Clownfish, Angelfish. Keep a lookout for turtles, stingrays, White Tip Reef Sharks, and Black Tip Reef Sharks which can often be spotted. Discover how the Great Barrier Reef is managed and what work is being done to protect it. With a friendly crew, learn more about how you protect the reef and its creatures for future generations to come. After the dives, be returned by boat to Nelly Bay, or Townsville Breakwater Marina.

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Green Island Fly & Cruise Package

10. Green Island Fly & Cruise Package

Experience the best of both worlds with this Fly and Cruise package. GSL Aviation have partnered with Big Cat Green Island to offer an amazing full-day experience. Start your day with a birds-eye view of Cairns, Green Island, and the Great Barrier Reef. Soar overhead with GSL Aviation aboard a high-wing aircraft, with guaranteed window seats for everyone on-board. The 40 minute ‘Reef Hopper’ flight departs Cairns Airport and gives you an appreciation of the region that you can only get from the air. Following the flight and your complimentary bus transfer, you’ll find yourself at the Cairns Reef Terminal ready to depart on a full day adventure cruise to Green Island with Big Cat on board Reef Rocket. Your full day cruise includes everything you need for the day, with a range of extras and activities available for no extra charge. Included in your cruise is a buffet lunch, and glass bottom boat coral viewing tour or snorkel equipment hire. On top of your tour inclusions are other activities on Green Island such as self-guided walks and fish feeding. After your entertaining afternoon, cruise back to the Cairns Reef Terminal where your tour concludes. *Please note that a return transfer is extra and can be booked with Big Cat on your day of travel if required.

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What people are saying about Great Barrier Reef

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 454 reviews

Very helpful and friendly staff, the cruise was clean and well maintained and the food was good...I highly recommed this to any traveller to Cairns who has interest to explore Coral world.

Great travel time to/from the Island & snorkelling straight off the beach is perfect for families with young kids

First time in a helicopter, loved every minute of it, highly recommend it, great staff and pilot

everything good except the chicken wings in the buffet.

it was very nice and cuite each point overal fantastics