1. Diving the Great Barrier Reef
"On the Great Barrier Reef, I went scuba diving for the first time which was amazing. There is more sea life and vibrant colours of the coral than I’ve ever seen. It’s like visiting another planet. Flying over the reef and seeing the changing blues and greens was also incredible. Such intense colours and contrast to the white sand of the beaches." - Chris Hemsworth
You can swim, snorkel, dive and sail the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, which stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres (1242 miles) along the Queensland coastline. There are a wide range of dive sites along the Great Barrier Reef from the calm, protected, shallow spots around the islands, perfect for first-timers, to the deeper sites on the outer reefs.
There are so many ways you can experience the reef – from immersing yourself in a deep dive experience to sailing atop the water. Given its location in the Whitsunday Archipelago, One&Only Hayman Island has the reef at its doorstep and offers an array of experiences from snorkel lessons to private boat tours of the inner and outer reefs complete with scuba diving.
For other reef experiences, in the Whitsundays you'll find Bait Reef which is well protected, making it a great site for snorkelers and beginner divers. Blue Pearl Bay, which is known for its coral and fish life including a resident Maori Wrasse, and caves and canyons, located on Hook Reef. Hook Reef is a 60 metre (196 foot) wall with a 20 metre (65 foot) shelf of beautiful coral gardens.
If you want to extend past this area of the reef, head to Lady Elliot Island or Lady Musgrave Island – this is the closest you’ll ever get to a guaranteed sighting of majestic Manta Ray and during winter, these gentle giants congregate in the hundreds.
If you prefer to stay dry, check out the technicolour coral and marine life through a glass-bottomed boat from coastal hubs such as Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Bundaberg, Mission Beach and Airlie Beach. Or, for an entirely different perspective, you can take a scenic flight over the reef.