7 Day Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling


A week in the Great Barrier Reef - East Coast Itinerary

The Great Barrier Reef is an incredible, biodiverse world wonder, and is indeed the largest coral ecosystem on Earth! And, if you’re lucky enough to score a week off to immerse yourself in the Reef’s glimmering waters and vibrant marinelife, we don’t want you to waste a moment of it! So, we have planned the ultimate 7-day Great Barrier Reef itinerary, made for you to explore the marvels of Queensland’s rich east coast and get amongst the flourishing, incredible marine magic!

Whether you’re coming from near or far, this itinerary will take you from the Whitsundays to Cairns, with natural beauty adorning your every step and swim! For more tailored itinerary planning, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our reef-loving travel experts to personalise your trip to utter perfection! 


Day 1 - 3 

Whitsunday Islands - Southern Great Barrier Reef - Scuba Dive - Snorkel

The dazzling Whitsundays region gives visitors access to the incredible Southern Great Barrier Reef. As a hub for picturesque and renowned reef tours, the Whitsundays is an unbeatable stop on your Great Barrier Reef adventure! To get a comprehensive and secluded reef experience, we recommend either 3 days and 2 nights on Kiana or 2 days and 1 night with Reefsleep. Here’s what your time in the Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will look like! 

Snorkel fringing reefs

With an array of breathtaking fringing reefs scattered around the Great Barrier Reef, there really is no better spot in Australia for snorkelling! Most tours in the Whitsundays secure you at least one snorkel amongst flourishing, dazzling fringing reefs all over the Whitsunday Islands, which usually include wetsuit and snorkel gear hire. So, dive in and spot some of the marine wonders that lie just below the surface around kaleidoscopic coral reefs and lush seagrass beds! A perfect activity for the whole family, with flotation devices available on most vessels.

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef Whitsundays

Scuba dive the outer reef

Both Kiana and Reeflseep include the unique scuba dive add on options for you to dive to the ethereal depths of the Great Barrier Reef like never before. With just you, your dive crew and the exceptional creatures of the outer reefs, diving the Great Barrier Reef and getting your dive ticket truly is a bucket-list adventure! Keep your eyes wide open for sea turtles, giant clams, clownfish, brilliant soft and hard corals and gentle reef sharks in this truly extraordinary section of the Great Barrier Reef! 

Kiana Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays

Island exploring 

The Whitsunday Islands are made up of a 74-island archipelago of heavenly sandy bays and secret hidden gems. So, check out the many islands protected under national park restrictions and let yourself be awe-inspired! From the beloved Whitsunday Islands, home to the pristine Whitehaven Beach and glorious Hill Inlet Lookout to more secluded spots such as Betty’s Beach, Tongue Bay, Hayman Island and Langford Island, your state-of-the-art Whitsunday tour will deliver you straight to paradise.

Whitehaven Beach Whitsundays Sailing

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and more!

All overnight tours in the Whitsundays include decadent, fully-catered menus complete with snacks, afternoon nibbles, local produce, coffee and nourishing breakfasts, lunches and dinners daily! Fuel your adventurer’s belly and leave the details to your highly-trained staff as you enjoy fresh food and beverages aboard your next Great Barrier Reef tour.

Reefsleep Buffet Lunch Great Barrier Reef tour

Airlie Beach accommodation and extra adventures!

If you’re choosing the overnight Reefsleep experience, fill your third day in the Whitsundays with a trip to cloud-9… literally! With an abundance of extraordinary and fun things to do in the Whitsundays, you won’t be twiddling your thumbs in this corner of natural heaven. Choose from a scenic flight over Heart Reef to see the Reef from a whole new angle, or even a skydive over the islands and reef for you adrenaline junkies out there! Rest your head in style and ease with our selection of affordable, modern and impressive apartments, hotels, resorts and rental accommodation choices.

Searene apartments Whitsundays Airlie Beach


Day 4 

Coastal Roadtrip - Whitsundays to Cairns - Explore Cairns

Hit the road and head north on the ultimate QLD road trip to the town where the reef and rainforest meet. That’s right, Cairns is a magnificent hub of Far North Queensland brimming with access to central and northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef! Just a 7-hour drive from Airlie Beach, chuck on some tunes and enjoy the dreamy coastal scenery that is simply quintessential to your tropical road trip. With plenty of flexible car and campervan rental options as well as coaches and even flights, we’ve got you totally covered! 

Cairns Roadtrip from Airlie Beach

Arrive at Cairns and check into your awesome accommodation, grab a delicious dinner at the many colourful and decadent restaurants and get a good night’s sleep before your jam-packed reef adventure awaiting you tomorrow! 


Day 5 - 7 

Cairns - Central & Northern Great Barrier Reef - Night Dive - Snorkel - Cruise

With vast, tried-and-tested tours of the Great Barrier Reef available from Cairns, there is something for everyone in this sparkling corner of paradise! Check out our variety of overnight tours to finish off your tropical getaway with a splash! Whether you’re relaxing on a spacious reef cruise, lapping up another scuba dive or sticking to the surface with a snorkel, here is an idea of what your Cairns Great Barrier Reef experience can include.

Fluorescent night dives

Along with plenty of daytime dives amongst wonderful, bustling reefs spots, guests aboard a variety of tours can enjoy the magic of a nighttime dive! If you are a diver who has completed a previous night dive, you can jump in and see the Great Barrier Reef come to life as your special fluoro mask illuminates the underwater world in a whole new way.

Clownfish Cairns Great Barrier Reef dive

Luxury private cabins

Rest, relax and play aboard our array of luxury vessels that combine adventure and comfort on your Great Barrier Reef experience! With private, shared and exclusive accommodation options, you can enjoy all of the little luxuries while out at sea. From buffet dining to onboard bars, your experience will be the cherry on top of a seamless Reef itinerary!

Liveaboard Great Barrier Reef Tour Luxury Room

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

With new corners and marinelife of the Reef to explore, your trip out to the Reef in Cairns will be filled with a range of fantastic, biodiverse ecosystems. So, grab your mask and snorkel and explore these colourful, dazzling locations just off of the coast of Cairns, keeping your eyes out for local giant trevallies, staghorn corals, Maori wrasse and sea cucumbers! 

Maori Wrasse Cairns Great Barrier Reef

Head on back to the mainland on the afternoon of your seventh day, with a golden island tan and sun-soaked memories that will have you awe-inspired by natural wonder all over again! With precious memories with loved ones amongst this world wonder, the Great Barrier Reef will have you starry-eyed and relaxed, with a certain need to come back and do it all again soon!


For keen travellers with a little more time on their hands, check out our comprehensive, impeccable 15-day tour from Brisbane to Cairns with stops in the Whitsundays and K’gari (Fraser Island)!

Don’t hesitate to contact our friendly travel agents to design your next East Coast itinerary to suit your personal travel vision, budget and time frame! 

Call us on +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat with a real agent today!

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