The Great Barrier Reef runs for more than 2300km along the northeast coast of Queensland from Bundaberg in the south to the tip of Cape York in the north and Cairns is the 'gateway' city to this awe inspiring attraction. It is the largest natural feature on earth and can be seen from space - Hence its truly deserved place as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest single structure made by live organisms, billions of tiny creatures known as coral polyps have built the reef over the last 600,000 years. It is a must see for every visitor to the region, whether a dive trip to the outer reef or a day trip and snorkelling off one of the nearby islands. Many companies in the Cairns region offer organised tours to the Great Barrier Reef… from learn-to-dive courses, day cruises and extended reef and sailing trips to visits to fascinating underwater observatories and pontoons anchored on the reef and islands.
It’s not just the coral people come to see - About 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises are sighted on the Great Barrier Reef including the dwarf minke whale, the Indo- Pacific humpback dolphin and the humpback whale.
Star of the current humpback whale population is Migaloo, a rare albino humpback whale who visits the Great Barrier Reef every year as part of the annual migration - first sited in 1991.
Usually visiting around June, Migaloo is one of about 8000 humpbacks who migrate from Antarctica each year. During the past three years, Migaloo has been a star attraction for tourists in the region and there are whale-watching tours available during the migration period.
One of the main attractions of the Great Barrier Reef for visitors and experienced divers alike are the more than 1500 species of fish that live here. Species include the clownfish, red bass, red throat emperor and many species of snapper and coral trout.
The colourful reef fish live among 400 species of hard and soft corals that can be found on the Great Barrier Reef. The coral spawning after the full moon in October is a popular attraction for divers from around the world.