The largest and most well known reef in the World is undoubtedly The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretches over 3,000 kilometers (1,600 miles) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers (133,000 sq miles), home to 1,500 species of fish, over 30 species of whales & dolphins and 400 species of coral – it’s no wonder the Great Barrier is a Top Dive destination. Visible even from space and rated one of the 7 wonders of the World, the Great Barrier has a dizzying array of dive sites, making it feature on almost all divers list of to-dive destinations if it doesn’t already.
Here’s a look at the Best Dive Sites of the Great Barrier Reef-
Rated the number one snorkel and dive site in Australia, Heron Island houses over 30 dives sites, half of which are just 15 minutes from the beach. Even a week in the water wouldn’t do justice to the acres of coral reef supporting around 900 of the 1,500 fish species and 72% of the coral species found on the Great Barrier Reef. Diving sites like ‘the Coral Cascades’ with football trout and sea anemones, ‘Blue Pools’ filled with octopus and delightful Green and Loggerhead Turtles, or the ‘Heron Bommie’ with its rays, eels and more is an almost magical experience for any diver.
SS Yongala, off coast of Ayr
This enchanting Australian passenger ship lying within the Great Barrier Reef Park lay undercover for over half a century since it sank in a cyclone in 1911. Today home to giant groupers, schools of trevally, cobia, turtles and sweeping rays among plenty of others, the ship, only a 30minute journey from the shore is known as one of the top wreck dive sites in the world to dive and is featured in our World’s Top 10 Wreck Dives
Covering hundreds of square miles just east of the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral sea you’ll see see sharks feeding at Predator’s Playground and 1,000m (3,280-ft.) drop-offs into the dark Abyss. Mainly accessible by liveaboards as it’s situated quite a distance away, this dive spot holds species not usually found in anywhere in the rest of the great barrier reef. Teamed with stunning visibility that extends to 100m (328 ft.) it is an absolute pleasure to dive the Coral Sea.
Situated 28km from the North Queensland, northeast of Cairns is an exclusive resort island surrounded by fringing reef with gorgeous underwater coral with well over 150 year old giant clams known as the Clam Garden. A dive destination popular with both divers and snorkelers alike, the outer reef dive sites from Lizard island include the world famous Cod Hole, renowned for its huge but friendly Potato Cod, which divers can hand feed. A 50 minute boat trip from the Island will take you to the legendary Outer Great Barrier Reef if you wish.
Lady Elliot Island
Nestled amongst the coral gardens at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, this coral cay is the ideal backdrop for some amazing samplings of what Australia has to offer for snorkeling and scuba diving. Boats take you out to snorkel above manta rays, plate coral, and big fish while Divers can swim through the blowhole, 16m (52 ft.) down, and see gorgonian fans, soft and hard corals, sharks, barracudas, and reef fish. During the winter months of July to October the majestic humpback whales pass by Lady Elliot Island on their annual migration through the warm waters of Queensland a delight for whale watchers.
World famous for its fantastic scuba diving and snorkeling, the reef today suffers significant damage and bleaching because of climatic conditions but these few spots in the Great Barrier reef never seem to disappoint. So if you’re planning your next dive trip to the Land Down Under, make sure to dive the very best sites it has on offer.