With crystal-clear waters and colourful tropical marine life, Queensland's Great Barrier Reef is a dream destination. The burgeoning resort town of Port Douglas in tropical North Queensland is ideally positioned on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef for day trips to explore the pristine underwater wonderland of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living organism and coral reef system stretching over 2,600km in the Coral Sea. The must-visit attraction is home to myriad marine and plant life from whales, dolphins, turtles, dugongs and porpoises to 500 different species of microscopic algae and seaweed as well as water birds.
Over 1,500 tropical fish species including clownfish, snapper, coral trout, rays and sharks reside among colourful hard and soft corals, molluscs and seahorses. This bountiful aquatic reserve offers amazing sights and unique experiences for swimmers, snorkellers, divers and boating enthusiasts.
Say hello to a stingray or float among the fishes
Several local operators offer over 100 tours and day trips to discover the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas. There are many ways to explore the reef including cruises, snorkelling and diving trips, fishing adventures, and leisurely swimming and sightseeing opportunities. Popular destinations include diving and snorkelling around the outer reefs to spy and swim with the colourful aquatic life, and visiting one of the Great Barrier Reef's 880 islands and 300 reefs or cays by luxury boat.
Sightseers can watch the multi-hued marine population through a glass-bottomed boat, or park themselves on a beach or catamaran with a champagne lunch and enjoy the views. There are also whale-watching cruises during the humpback migration season, and fly or hot air balloon and cruise tour options.
The duration and cost of individual tours vary but also attract an AU$5.50 reef tax per person. Tours depart daily from the nautical gateway to Great Barrier Reef – the Port Douglas Marina at Marina Mirage - with transfers usually included or can be arranged from Port Douglas accommodations.