Me (brunette woman) snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef Australia. Surrounded by sapphire blue waters, a bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds

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Do You Want to Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef Australia?

I had never snorkeled in my entire life.

However, I’m never one to shy away from activities that make a splash. I figured, if there was ever a great place to jump in and try snorkeling, Queensland would be it. After traveling almost 7,500 miles to explore my 6th continent, I was not going to miss the bucket list experience of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Man and woman snorkeling through the great barrier reef, hovering at the waters surface
Snapped by one of our snorkel guides during our excursion

Seven Natural Wonders of the World

So, what’s all the fuss about?

If there are coral reefs all over the world, why is this one on everyone’s bucket list? Objectively, the Great Barrier Reef Australia is the largest coral reef system on earth. In fact, of all the coral in the world, a third of it is found in the Great Barrier Reef Australia. It’s also kinda old – to the tune of 8,000 to 500,000 years old. Yeah.

It’s home to a very diverse array of sea creatures. Whales, dolphins, multiple types of turtles, countless types of fish and, argh – sea snakes! But perhaps, the most commonly mentioned fun fact is that it is the only living structure on earth that’s visible from space.

That is pretty cool, honestly.

Bright blue water, vivid corals growing vertically and a couple silver fish swimming by
Awesome capture of vibrant corals during our snorkel by Wavelength Reef Cruises

Ice ages have come and gone. Coral reefs have persisted.

Sylvia earle – American Marine biologist and oceanographer

Is the Great Barrier Reef Australia Worthy of a Spot on My Bucket List?

If you’re pressed for time, the short answer to this is… yes. In fairness, I’ve heard mixed opinions about this from fellow travelers. Some absolutely love this experience and others feel that it’s… well, overrated.

For me, it would be ridiculous to be in Queensland and not see the Great Barrier Reef. Unless you have a debilitating fear of the ocean, this is something a traveler will want to do… at least once in your lifetime.

After snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, I’ve since scuba dived and snorkeled in many beautiful places and regions around the world. Does the Great Barrier Reef stand out among them all? In some ways, yes! In some ways…no. All in all, I would honestly snorkel the Great Barrier Reef again. Better yet… I would likely opt to scuba dive it this time.

A big school of light blue fish, with a couple dark blue fishes swimming through orange corals
School of vibrant fish swimming through the coral. Photo taken by Wavelength Reef Cruises

What’s it Really Like?

We went in a really large group tour. It was actually very fun and felt very safe. What many don’t know is that The Great Barrier Reef is quite a distance from the shoreline. Depending on which part your tour takes you to, it could take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes by boat to arrive.

Meaning… when you get in the water, you are really far from land.

The reef, itself? Gorgeous.

Again, it was my first time snorkeling. Being so far from land, when you get in the water you are surrounded by the vastness of the ocean. Just ocean for miles and miles as far as the eye can see. The sky meets the blueness of the water.

Bright purple, tangerine, burgundy and blue corals amongst the teal blue ocean
Gorgeous, vivid corals of the Great Barrier Reef. Taken during our snorkel session by Wavelength Reef Cruises

You put your head underwater…and… what is this?! An entire…other…world. Brightly colored corals. Vibrant Fish. A turtle swimming off in the distance! The water is deep… but I can clearly see the ocean floor. It gets much deeper in certain areas.

Perhaps this was the beginning of my love affair with the underwater world.

If you’ve snorkeled or dived alot of other coral reef in your time and then snorkel the Great Barrier Reef then… sure. I guess I could see how one might make the argument that it isn’t anymore visually special than other beautiful coral reefs throughout the world.

Worth Doing While in Cairns

Cairns, Queensland, coined the “gateway to the Great Barrier Reef,” was truly a highlight of visiting Australia. It’s one of my favorite parts of Australia. It intermingles small coastal town charm with tropical oasis scenery. There are cute cafes and family owned restaurants to check out during your time in the city.

More magnificent corals at the Great Barrier Reef, captured by Wavelength Reef Cruises during our snorkel

Know Before You Go

• I am not an affiliate of Wavelength Reef Cruises, but I am still linking the tour we took because it was safe, enjoyable, and a very educational experience that I know I can recommend. They are also eco-tourism and climate-action certified. They’ve also won numerous Travelers Choice Awards and a Trip Advisors Certificate of Excellence. I took the full day outer reef snorkel tour and the rates range from $199 – $250 per person depending on the season.

• Pack a day bag with a swimsuit, change of clothes, sunscreen, a hat, a towel and any medications you may need if you get seasick.

• The most important thing to know about visiting the Great Barrier Reef or any coral reef: treat it like a museum, look but don’t touch anything.

The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves.

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If you haven’t been to the Great Barrier Reef yet, don’t worry. They’ve stood the test of time… HOWEVER… the reef is highly vulnerable. One thing I appreciated about the Wavelength Reef Tour is their focus on conservation and educating their Guests about the ocean, its wildlife and the coral reef itself. Here is one place you can learn more about how we can work together to conserve the reefs. I hope you enjoy seeing one of the wonders of our world!

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