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Great Barrier Reef Travel Guide

Great Barrier Reef Photo info
Pete Niesen/Shutterstock

As one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef holds a spot on every traveler's bucket list. Hugging the east coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef extends from Cape York in the north all the way to Bundaberg in the south — a total of 1,250 miles. With roughly 3,000 coral reefs, 600 islands and 1,625 species of fish, the reef leaves its 1.6 ... continue»

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When to Visit Great Barrier Reef

The best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef is April through May. This small window between the region's high and low tourist seasons offers some key advantages for savvy travelers. Temperatures hover in the 70s and 80s, and rainfall is uncommon, which means clearer waters and better diving conditions. Along with the ideal weather, this in-between season sees fewer crowds and better hotel rates than peak tourist season, which runs from June through October. The Great Barrier Reef region welcomes a larger number of visitors during this time because of the weather. Australia's winter season (summer in the United States) is also the region's dry period, offering comfortable temperatures and excellent diving conditions. The area's low season, November through March, brings lower hotel rates, but you'll encounter some fickle weather in the north. Sporadic showers and temperatures in the high 80s are the norm on the mainland. The wet climate reduces water visibility and attracts deadly box jellyfish, meaning you'll have to avoid swimming off of mainland beaches.  

Best Times to Visit Great Barrier Reef»

Great Barrier Reef Temperature (F) Great Barrier Reef Precipitation (in)

Temperature [+ enlarge]Precipitation [+ enlarge]

Getting Around Great Barrier Reef

The best way to get around the Great Barrier Reef is by car or boat, depending on where you plan to spend the majority of your time. If you're on the mainland, renting a car is the best way to get to and from the attractions in and around Cairns. However, if you're planning to spend your vacation on one of the reef's more remote areas, like the Whitsunday Islands or Lizard Island, then catching a boat is your best bet. Because Cairns is the tourist hub of Queensland (and a convenient point from which to explore the reef), many Great Barrier Reef visitors fly into Cairns International Airport (CNS). (If you're traveling from the U.S., you'll have to change planes in Sydney or Brisbane to get to Cairns.) If you're flying directly to one of the islands on the reef, you'll likely fly into the Great Barrier Reef Airport (HTI) on Hamilton Island. This airport welcomes flights from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne provided by carriers like Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Qantas. From Hamilton Island, you can easily hop on a plane or boat to explore the reef's neighboring islands.

Getting Around Great Barrier Reef»

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