Go snorkelling around the beautiful Great Barrier Reef​. Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland

Where is Great Barrier Reef & Cairns?

Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef & Cairns

The Whitsunday Islands are the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays is made up of 74 tropical islands floating among the coral reef. A handful of these islands have been made into resorts and cater for all budgets and experiences. Some of the most popular resort islands include Hayman, Hamilton, Daydream, and South Molle.

Just up from the Whitsundays is the Great Barrier Reef - which is a world heritage coral wonderland and is home to a vast array of tropical fish and marine life. It is so beautiful and has been named one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Click here for a comprehensive list of things to do on the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef.

Whitsundays & Great Barrier Reef activities

  • The Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef have beautiful warm waters all year round. Go swimming and snorkelling in the warm shallow waters with tropical fish, turtles, starfish, sea urchins, sharks, sting rays, and other marine life.
  • Scuba divers flock to the Great Barrier Reef to swim among the thousands of brilliantly coloured fish, coral, whales, dolphins and turtles. The local dive companies will take you exploring into this underwater paradise.
  • Book a fishing tour where you can chase tuna, coral trout and mackerel.
Beach cricket on the Great Barrier Reef.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
  • Take a whale watching cruise, or hire a boat and go sailing around the Whitsundays, or go out in a glass bottom boat and view the coral reefs.​
  • Visit the beautiful white sands of the Whitehaven beach which is known as one of the best beaches in the world.
  • Take a scenic flight around the Barrier Reef on a seaplane or helicopter.

Further up: Cairns & Port Douglas

At the top end of Queensland is Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas which combines rainforests, reefs and a rich Indigenous culture.

Cairns is a coastal village with everything a city has but with a relaxed attitude. An hour north of Cairns is Port Douglas where you can enjoy great restaurants, cafes, markets, shopping, swimming and health and wellness spas.

Experience Indigenous Australia. Photo courtesy
of Tourism Australia

This area is also home to the oldest surviving tropical rainforest on earth – the Daintree Rainforest - and has the largest variety of plant and animal species in Australia. To really understand the magic of the Daintree, take a tour with one of the local Indigenous guides where you will discover ancient rock art, Aboriginal dance, culture and bush foods.

Tour the Daintree Rainforest with an expert indigenous guide and gain an insight into the lives of those who have lived on this land for thousands of years. Discover ancient rock-art sites, learn about the culture and traditional bush foods and watch traditional dance, all within Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

Where to stay

Choose from hotels to self catering apartments on the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef. Some hotels offer all-inclusive meals and accommodation packages which can be a great option when holidaying on the Islands.

Family friendly - Hamilton Island

All the Whitsunday Islands are beautiful but Hamilton Island is perfect for a family holiday. This island has a variety of hotels, resorts and self catering apartments, and plenty of activities including beaches, swimming pools, sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and snorkeling.