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Great Barrier Reef

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Down Under Wonder
Coral formations bring divers to an undersea world of color and form

The Great Barrier Reef's coral formations bring divers to an undersea world of wondrous color and striking form

© Tourism Queensland

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is a favorite destination of scuba divers, underwater explorers, and lovers of exotic, romantic tropical islands. It is a succession of spectacular reefs extending from just south of the Tropic of Capricorn off the Queensland coast to Torres Strait in the north.

It is 2000 kilometres in length — and visitors to the Reef have a choice of multiple access points all up and down the north Queensland coast, starting as far south as Bundaberg near the vicinity of Fraser Island.

Great Barrier Reef is an inscribed World Heritage site.

At its southern tip, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is as much as 300 kilometres from the mainland, which is a reason for the popularity of access points further north where the Reef is easier to reach, such as on day trips from Cairns or Townsville.

Take a cruise

One of the easiest ways to visit the Reef is to join any of a number of cruises originating from major towns or cities on the north Queensland coast. A popular jump-off point is Cairns on the far north Queensland coast.

Basically, this would involve sailing out to the Reef and anchoring at a place suitable for snorkeling or scuba diving.

Viewing the reef formations without getting into the water can be done from glass-bottomed boats or submersibles.

A stop at one of the cays or coral islands may be included in the tour.

A WARNING: If going diving, be sure to make mutual arrangements with other members of your group to insure you are on the boat returning to shore and, if you’re not, to alert the boat crew right away of your absence.

It has happened that divers have been left behind -- and haven't been seen again.

Remember, too, that there may be perils in the water from stingrays, stonefish and other dangerous creatures. Know what they are, take precautions, it's relatively easy to be safe.

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