- Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Swimming/Pools Type
- Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
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Many visitors say the Great Barrier Reef is best seen through a scuba mask, but it's no small feat to traverse the area's dive spots. When choosing which regions to explore, consider your skill level, the amount of travel involved and the trip length in that area. Two of the most popular diving and snorkeling locales are listed below:
Hosting a kaleidoscope of fish, sea turtles and humpback whales, Cairns' reefs are teeming with wildlife. Known locally as the Outer Barrier Reef, these reefs are ideal for first-time divers and families because of the one- to three-hour travel times from Cairns' Reef Fleet Terminal. Popular spots by Cairns include Michaelmas Cay, Moore Reef, Green Island and Hastings Reef. Ocean Free, Seastar Cruises and Tusa Dive all offer a variety of half- to full-day cruises; diving and snorkeling cruise packages start at 205 Australian dollars ($152) per adult and AU$120 ($89) for each child.
The Ribbon Reefs
Situated alongside northern Queensland's coast, these 10 narrow reefs – which are numbered one through 10 – are known simply as the Ribbon Reefs. Ribbon Reef No. 10 is home to one of the Great Barrier Reef's most famous dive sites, Cod Hole. Along with its chromatic parade of tropical fish, Cod Hole features massive potato cod and Maori wrasse fish. After many years of being hand-fed by guides, the resident potato cod aren't afraid to approach divers. Dwarf minke whales are occasionally spotted as well in June and July. Dive trips at the Ribbon Reefs require more time since they are approximately 60 miles north of Cairns, but the water is clearer here than it is at Cairns' reefs. Tour operators like Spirit of Freedom and Mike Ball Dive Expeditions offer three- to seven-day trips that start at AU$1720 (roughly $1,262) per person.