Step Three: How to see the reef?
Outer reef pontoon day trips:
To see the true Great Barrier Reef you will need to travel to the outer reef, often a few hours boat ride out to sea. There you will base yourself on a large pontoon where you can dive, snorkel, take glass bottom boat tours, eat and generally laze in the sun. Some even have crèche options so you can scuba with your partner knowing your kids are okay. The day is long but wonderful.
Check your operator has kid-sized snorkels, masks, suits and safety gear. You might also want to choose one with kids swimming enclosures or waterslides, depending on the age of your children. For an extra special treat, consider the Fantasea Adventure Cruising Reefsleep Experience.
Northern Great Barrier Reef: Quicksilver Cruises, Great Adventures Cruises, Sunlover Cruises and Reef Magic Cruises.
Whitsundays: Fantasea Adventure Cruising, Cruise Whitsundays.
South: No permanent pontoons, but cruise options.
Yacht and Charter:
Bareboat charters are a great family option for those who like a bit of adventure. It’s just you and the family sailing out on the water for as many nights as you choose. No sailing experience is needed; a full briefing is given before departure. The Whitsundays is world –famous for its sailing, but you can also hire boats out of Cairns.
The options are endless and available in all the regions; try snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, glass bottom boats, semi-submersible craft or even splash out on a helicopter tour. The flight over the Heart Reef is hard to beat.
For something educational try Daydream Island’s Living Reef Lagoon programs or Quicksilver Cruise’s Squid Squad.
To get a full dose of snorkelling, sailing and a visit to Whitehaven Beach, the full day tour on Adventure Whitsunday’s Camira is highly recommended.
If you don’t want to get wet, Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville is the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. You’ll see things here you’ll miss in the wild.