The Great Barrier Reef is revered as one of the most biodiverse natural structures in the ocean and with a wealth of marine life, it’s no wonder people from around the world come and visit. Made up of around 2900 reefs, it is certainly one of the most exciting places to dive but if you are short on time, which sites should you prioritise?
Lady Musgrave Island
If you are new to this part of the world then taking a tour of Lady Musgrave Island is probably the best way to start acclimatising. Seabird colonies live here and the warm waters are perfect for a dip with a snorkel as well as your full diving gear. The island is surrounded by a large coral cay which means that the waters are slightly more protected - perfect if you are new to scuba or you have more cautious friends with you.
All the usual suspects are here including clownfish (Nemo), blue tangs (Dory) and manta rays (Mr Ray) but if you want to see something really special then between November and January you might be lucky enough to spot a turtle laying their eggs. Come back later on and between January and March you could see the hatchlings taking their first clumsy steps towards the ocean and being whisked away by the waves. Truly a sight to behold.
Though you might have come for the brightly coloured corals and plentiful fish, the SS Yongola is a shipwreck with adventure dive written all over it. It may be a wreck but the SS Yongola is just as incredible as any reef and comes with all kinds of ocean life. Giant groupers, turtles and manta rays all live here as well as bull sharks and tiger sharks. In the winter months from June to November, you may even spot a humpback whale!
This site is, naturally, incredibly popular but you must be warned that it is only suitable for experienced divers due to the depth (33m) and strong current. The ship sank in 1911 in a tropical cyclone and has been well preserved ever since. You may not be able to go inside the wreck any more but you can still see all kinds of features - even the toilets!
If beaches are your thing then you won’t be disappointed with the white sands of Whitsunday Island. Indeed, the largest beach is 7km of beautiful soft sand, perfect for lounging in the sun between trips out to the surrounding reefs.
There are so many different sites here that listing them all would be a blog in itself so let’s just say that wherever you end up here, you are going to have an incredible time! Many of the reefs are near the shore in this area so you can just put your gear on and walk into the sea rather than tipping yourself over the side.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most exciting places in the world and you will have an amazing time wherever you go.