Wherever in the world you might be, snorkelling is one of those things that's cheap, fun and always a great experience. But in true Australian style, the Great Barrier Reef does it bigger and better than anywhere else. With gorgeous corals and more exotic wildlife than you could ever imagine, it's a must-see for anyone making the long trip down under.
The world-famous Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2000km along Queensland's coast, at the north-east edge of Australia. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the world, it's not hard to see why it attracts over two million visitors a year and graces many a bucket list.
It contains the world's largest collection of corals in all colours, shapes and sizes, as well as breathtaking wildlife including sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and more than 1500 species of fish. It's safe to say that this is one place where you won't be stuck for things to see. The fantastic thing about the Great Barrier Reef is that much of the wildlife and coral is within a few metres of the surface, making it the perfect option for those who want to explore the sea life without having to dive.
April and May are often considered to be the best months for visiting the Great Barrier Reef - at this time, temperatures are good and water is clearer due to the lack of rainfall. It also falls just outside of the tourist high season (June to October), so there will be fewer crowds.
The most convenient places to stay on the mainland are Cairns and Port Douglas, which both have regular boat trips to the reef each day.
For something a little more unique, you can find dreamy holiday spots in the islands dotted along the Great Barrier Reef. Try Heron Island, a coral cay renowned for its marine research, or Haggerstone Island, a tranquil and intimate resort with gorgeous rustic guesthouses. The ever-popular Hamilton Island is a buzzing tourist hotspot, where you can even catch a glimpse of migrating whales.
Don't interfere with the ecosystem. This means no touching wildlife or corals - it's a delicate ecosystem, and a lot of effort is being put in to preserve it.
Cover up and wear sunscreen. The Queensland sun is strong, so make sure you're protected when out in the water. It's been found that regular sunscreen has been damaging corals, so look out for coral-friendly formulas such as this one.
Take an underwater camera. You're going to be spending a lot of time underwater, so why not? For great snorkel shots, try an underwater camera casing for your iPhone, or for a more budget-friendly option, take a look at disposable underwater cameras.
Enjoy the reef responsibly. The Australian government have a number of best practice rules around those visiting the reef. Respect the environment and take a look at these tips before you go.
The Great Barrier Reef is quite possibly one the most beautiful and colourful ecosystems on the earth. Prepare to feel humbled, amazed and quite simply, blown away by the stunning natural beauty of this Australian gem.
Sarah lives in London but has a bucket list longer than her arm. She's spent time everywhere from Russia to Australia, and has more than a few trips planned for the future. In the meantime, she works in social media and writes for a number of publications. Follow her on Twitter.comments powered by Disqus