Cairns & Great Barrier Reef

Tour Guides

World Heritage: The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia. It contains the world's largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc. It also holds great scientific interest as the habitat of species such as the dugong ('sea cow') and the large green turtle, which are threatened with extinction.

The Great Barrier Reef: Spanning more than 2000 km along the northeastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. The Reef which runs parallel to the Queensland coast has been designated by the Australian Government as a Marine Park. Few can imagine the biological diversity of the reef. One probably has to realize first that the 2000 km long reef runs predominantly in the North-South direction, therefore spanning a wide range of climates. Rain forests and mountains are predominant in the northern islands, while the southern islands are composed mainly of Coral Cay. Apart from its environmental value, the area offers visitors a variety of activities including scuba diving, snorkeling, water sports, and birdwatching.


Cultural and Recreation Portal: The Great Barrier Reef is the only living organic collective visible from Earth's orbit. The Great Barrier Reef, off the east coast of Australia, is one of the wonders of the natural world - it is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem. It was declared a World Heritage area in 1981. The reef is scattered with beautiful islands and idyllic coral cays and covers more than 300,000 square kilometres. The Great Barrier Reef system consists of more than 3000 reefs which range in size from 1 hectare to over 10,000 hectares in area. Dunk Island is one of more than 600 islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Human activity in the Reef areas has led to increased pollutants and the reef has suffered damage. Protecting the Reef is the responsibility of the Marine Park Authority. In 2003, the Australian Government and Queensland Governments, in partnership with a wide range of industry and community groups, have developed the Reef Water Quality Protection Reef Plan (the Reef Plan) as a combined effort to protect the Reef.

Wikipedia: Cairns is a regional city and Local Government Area located in Queensland, Australia. Originally settled in 1876, and named after William Wellington Cairns (the then Governor of Queensland) to serve miners heading for the Hodgkinson River goldfield, the settlement declined when an easier route was discovered from Port Douglas. However, Cairns' future was secured as it developed into a railhead and major port for the exportation of sugar cane, gold, precious metals and agricultural industries from the surrounding coastal and Tableland regions. The city is rapidly expanding, with a population of 128,284 (as of June, 2005), and is reliant on the sugar and tourism industries.

The City of Cairns lies about 1720 km (1,069 miles) from Brisbane and about 2500 km (1,553 miles) from Sydney by road. Cairns is a popular travel destination for foreign tourists because of its tropical climate and proximity to many attractions. The Great Barrier Reef is only one-and-a-half hours away by boat. The Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation, about 130km north of Cairns, are popular areas for experiencing a tropical rainforest. It is also a starting point for people wanting to explore Cooktown, Cape York Peninsula, and the Atherton Tableland.

Queensland Islands: The islands of Queensland, and the Great Barrier Reef region of Tropical North Queensland in particular, are Australia's crown jewels, with a choice of accommodation and activities for all budgets ranging from remote and secluded luxury lodges and elegantly sophisticated resorts, through to family oriented island getaways. Queensland's Great Barrier Reef islands are ideally suited for honeymooners, families, divers, beachcombers - in fact anyone looking for an idyllic, exotic, sunkissed and pristine holiday destination that is a rare escape from a stressful world. If diving or fishing are more your speed then Heron, Wilson, Lizard or Lady Elliot are superb choices. For nature at its best with turtle hatching, bird rookeries and whale watching, (all seasonal) Lady Elliot Island is an ecological wonderland. Absolute luxury? Hayman, Green Island, Orpheus, Bedarra, Peppers Palm Bay and Lizard of course. While families will find the prices and facilities of South Molle Island, Dunk, Hamilton, Hayman, Daydream or Fitzroy make perfect sense for that tropical family holiday.

Wordtravels: The cosmopolitan, colourful city of Cairns in far north Queensland is a tourist-orientated centre because it is the gateway to two of the world's most awesome World Heritage Sites, the Great Barrier Reef and the 110-million year old Daintree rainforest. Cairns started life as a small fishing encampment, which received an injection of prosperity in the 19th century when gold was discovered to the north and tin and timber began to be exploited in the nearby Atherton Tablelands. The harbour and fishing operations increased in importance, and tourism arrived in the early 20th century when marlin fishing became popular, and the world discovered the delights of exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Aided by its pleasant, warm climate the relaxed tropical town has now become a frenzied international tourism centre, flooded with visitors most of the year, its streets lined with souvenir stores, eateries and some first class hotels. The harbour is clogged with streamlined pleasure boats, and the offshore islands bristle with resorts. To cater for tourists the city fathers have even created a man-made salt-water lagoon and sandy beach on the Esplanade to replace the original muddy swamp that crowned Trinity Bay.

Holiday Company Descriptions

Journeys of Distinction: A holiday to Australia would not be complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. Today we have arranged an excursion which could be the highlight of your tour. Travel by catamaran to the Reef - the largest living organism in the world. Our catamaran will anchor next to a floating pontoon at Agincourt Reef where you will have plenty of opportunity to see the colourful marine life via the glass windowed underwater walkway, or closer still by using snorkelling equipment, which is provided for you.

Freedom Australia: Cruise on the Great Adventures high-speed catamaran to the Great Barrier Reef. View the coral and fish from a semi-submersible vessel. Snorkelling gear is included (extra charge for scuba). Enjoy a reef education presentation on this living wonder and a tropical buffet lunch on-board the pontoon. Return to Cairns.

Viator: Situated on the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef, Agincourt Reef provides a sheltered anchorage and the prefect spot for you to snorkel, dive, and view the spectacular coral formations from the semi submersible coral viewing vessel. You can also watch the fish feeding from a unique viewing platform and underwater observatory. Floating like an island in a coral sea, the modern, dual level platforms provide the ultimate in facilities for reef viewing and relaxation in all weather and wind conditions. The platforms have tables for you to enjoy lunch, undercover seating, fresh water showers and change rooms to allow you to enjoy your day. There is also a water powered lift to allow easy access for all passengers.

Holiday Accommodation

The Backpacker: Green Island is a beautiful coral cay which enjoys world acclaim as a tropical paradise on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The island is a protected Marine National Park, readily identified by its emerald rainforest surrounded by white sandy beaches and magnificent coral reefs. The marine life includes endless varieties of colorful fish, turtles, giant clams, shells, starfish, sea anemones and much more. The MV 'Big Cat' is an air-conditioned, 30 meter catamaran which cruises daily to Green Island, located 15 nautical miles (27 kilometers) from Cairns. It features spacious and luxurious interior cabins as well as outside decks to enjoy the warm, tropical climate.

Total Travel: Cairns city is in the heart of the Tropical North and is the primary gateway to Northern Australia. A modern, sophisticated city, it is an ideal base to explore the wider region with front door access to the Great Barrier Reef, rainforest and outback as well as be in close proximity to all the modern conveniences of a major city. Make Cairns your base from which to explore the unique World Heritage rainforest to the west and the stunning blue coastline of the Great Barrier Reef. Cairns abounds in attractions of all forms and there are many tour operators based in the city on hand to ensure you miss nothing!

Best at Australia: For an experience of a lifetime, today enjoy a full day aboard Quicksilver as you take a trip out to a reef at the very edge of Australia's Continental Shelf, to an underwater world that is a dazzling kaleidoscope of colour and brilliance. With the assistance of your friendly and knowledgeable crew choose to snorkel, swim with the colourful coral and spectacular fish or you may wish to view the stunning underwater world from aboard the semi-submersible boat or from the underwater viewing platform.

Adventures Abroad: This afternoon we fly to Cairns, Queensland. Queensland is huge - at about 1 745 000 kmA² (667,000 square miles) the second largest state (Western Australia is the biggest) and more than twice the size of Texas. Taking the Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria into account, it has an enormous coastline over 7500 km (4,590 miles). Queensland started out as part of New South Wales, used as a penal colony starting in 1824. An influx of free settlers, many who entered illegally, changed its face from prison to agricultural centre. In 1842 it was officially opened to free settlement and, by 1859, the population was large enough to justify its status as a separate colony. The settlers made their way with sheep, cattle, wheat, an abundance of natural resources and cash crops - including bananas, which gave rise to the rather derisive name the rest of Australia sometimes uses for Queensland natives: "Banana benders".

Today we have a full day cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef. Generally, the vessels are large and comfortable with plenty of deck space and interior seating. A buffet lunch is served (included) and a wide range of beverages are available for purchase. Snorkeling equipment is available and included.

Thomas Cook: Today, fly to the tropical north of Queensland, Cairns - the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the World Heritage Rain Forest Region. Unpack for four nights at the central Pacific International Hotel (4 diamond), which overlooks the waterfront.

Spend the day at the Great Barrier Reef's Michaelmas Cay, a sandy cay surrounding a seabird sanctuary. Discover the coral gardens and colourful marine life from the decks of the award-winning Ocean Spirit with guided snorkelling tours, presentations by marine biologists and optional scuba dives.

Holiday Accommodation

Shangri-la Hotel: An Australian oasis for vacationers and young professionals, the Shangri-La Hotel - The Marina, acts as a virtual gateway between Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Conveniently situated within five minutes walking distance to the Cairns Convention Centre and only a 10 minutes drive from the Cairns International Airport, this hotel is near shopping, entertainment and cultural venues. The hotel puts its' best foot forward in the rainforest lobby, as vaulted ceilings and vast architectural forms create an enchanting space for large intricate Japanese lanterns, modern décor and a stunning Great Barrier Reef aquarium.

Holiday Inn: This hotel is superbly located on the Cairns Esplanade only a five-minute walk from the shopping, entertainment and business center of Cairns. Featuring 237 comfortably appointed guestrooms, Holiday Inn Cairns reflects the ambience of the Tropics with breathtaking views overlooking the Coral Sea and rainforest clad mountains. The unique rainforest Atrium is designed to represent a mini rainforest surrounded by tropical plants, rock pools and Barramundi fish. The hotel also features a relaxing Lobby Bar, bottle shop, swimming pool, heated spa, large sundeck, fitness centre, tour desk, gift shop, 24-hour room service, high-speed internet access, free undercover parking and Atriums Restaurant, famous for its seafood and international cuisine.

Hilton: Explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest from the harborside Hilton Cairns hotel. With Cairns shopping on the doorstep, the hotel offers a pool, well-equipped health club and spa, and 3 excellent restaurants and bars. Set overlooking Trinity Bay and the marina, the hotel is in a great location to visit Cairns attractions like the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest, or to try local golf courses and beach watersports.

Cairns International Hotel: Fabulous harbour and mountain views, spacious Cairns hotel rooms. Stay in the very heart of all that Cairns, nestled between two World Heritage areas - the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Capturing the casual but stylish lifestyle of Cairns, subtle and silent service and impeccable attention to detail awaits you on your Cairns holiday or business trip. Our Cairns hotel offers you a haven for relaxation where colonial charm meets tropical elegance.

Sheridan Plaza: This hotel offers you "Affordable Luxury" in a modern 4½ star, Boutique style hotel. The hotel features three types of excellent accommodation including the superbly appointed deluxe and executive rooms, and expansive suites. All rooms are complimented with the luxury features and facilities you would expect from any 5 star hotel, including; bath tubs, air conditioning, free In House Movies and Cable TV, modem access, 24 hr room service and reception, private balconies, Mini-bar and refrigerators. Hotel security is first class with single point key card entry, double locks, security viewers and exterior surveillance cameras. Also featured in our boutique style hotel is an extensive gymnasium, outdoor pool, guest laundry and undercover parking which makes the Quality Hotel Sheridan Plaza the obvious choice for the business person, holiday maker or travelling family.

Tradewinds Esplanade Hotel: Rydges Tradewinds Cairns is a 4.5 Star Hotel for reef and rainforest discovery, ideally located on the Cairns Esplanade overlooking the Coral Sea. Rydges Tradewinds is just a few minutes walk along the Esplanade Boardwalk to the Cairns lagoon precinct, City Centre, Restaurants, shopping and departure points for the Great Barrier Reef. The hotel is just 6kms from the Cairns Domestic and International Airport. The hotel offers a range of accommodation options to suit everyone, from the corporate traveller to families. Dine inside or poolside in the tropical ambience of Latitude 137 Restaurant & Bar. Enjoy a cool drink on the deck of E Bar whilst watching the birdlife and sunset over the Esplanade waterfront.

Cascade Gardens: These modern and stylish apartments cater for all guests and have proven popular with visitors to Tropical North Queensland. Here you can enjoy all that Cairns has to offer in convenient, comfortable and quality accommodation. The Esplanade is one block away and the city centre is just a 10 minute walk. Cairns is a sun and thrill seekers paradise and is the gateway to the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. From snorkeling, to white water rafting, four wheel driving to exploring the rainforests, Cairns offers a plethora of attractions and activities. The city boasts a range of shopping areas, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries. Activities and facilities in Cairns are endless and include exceptional golf courses, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and for adventure seekers, scuba diving, sailing and safari tours.