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Ways to see the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the natural world - it's larger than the Great Wall of China and it's the only living thing visible from space! While in the Whitsundays there are 3 ways in which you can see the Great Barrier Reef for yourself - on an overnight tour, a day tour, or on a scenic flight.

Each option offers you an exceptional and unique experience, but its personal preference as to which method you prefer and what tour suits your time-frame best. To help you make your decision we have broken each option down for you below.


1. Overnight Tour

Overnight tours are the most popular and sought out way to see the Outer Reef. We have two boats which allow you to visit the Great Barrier Reef and stay overnight:

great barrier reef

Kiana and Reefsleep are both overnight tours but offer two very different experiences. Kiana is a longer tour, and a sailing boat which makes its way around the Whitsunday Islands, visiting Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout as well as the Outer Reef. Reefsleep goes straight to the Outer Reef where you sleep in swags on a pontoon which is permanently situated in Hardy Reef (read more about Hardy Reef in the day tour section).

Both tours offer plenty of snorkelling along with great scuba diving opportunities for both introductory and certified divers alike! Please note all divers are subject to conditions and that you may be required to obtain a Divers Medical Certificate for certain medical conditions or if you are over 45 years old.


2. Day tour

Hardy Reef is one of many reefs that form the Great Barrier Reef. What's unique about Hardy Reef is that there is a floating pontoon permanently moored there. This pontoon is available to guests partaking in Reefsleep (overnight tour) or in any of the following day tours:

reef world

These three tours are very similar as they all spend a few hours at the exact same pontoon on Hardy Reef. The difference between the CW Half Day Great Barrier Reef and the CW Reefworld tour is pretty self-explanatory - one is a half day option, the other is a full day option. The HeliReef Fly/Cruise Package is the CW Reefworld tour plus a 45 minute helicopter scenic flight. This helicopter flight will either bring you back to the Whitsundays at the end of the day, or take you out to the pontoon to start the day, so it will also eliminate one way of lengthy boat transport to the Outer Reef!

If you are looking for a day out on the reef, but would rather a boating experience, rather than a pontoon experience, you can also check out Explore's Full Day to the Outer Great Barrier Reef tour. 


3. Scenic Flight

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from the air will take your Whitsundays experience one step further. Our aviation products include airplanes, seaplanes and helicopters. Not all aviation tours will fly over the Great Barrier Reef, but if you stick to the list below you can't go wrong! All of the below tours will fly over the Whitsundays Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, included sights are Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and Heart Reef. Additional inclusions are listed next to each tour to help you distinguish the differences:

Airplane Tour

Seaplane Tours

  • Reef and Whitehaven Scenic Flight - 1hr tour. Includes a 'Touch n Go' water landing at the reef.
  • Reef and Whitehaven Discovery - 2hr tour. Includes a 'Touch n Go' water landing at the reef. You will also land at Whitehaven Beach where you will have time to explore and relax.
  • Reef Adventure - 3hr tour. Includes a landing at the Great Barrier Reef where you can enjoy 2hrs of coral viewing and snorkelling from the comfort of a glass bottom boat in a private coral lagoon.
  • Panorama Tour - 4.5hr tour. Like the Reef Adventure tour, you will get to enjoy coral viewing and snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef. You will also land at Whitehaven Beach for a relaxing one hour visit.

Helicopter Tour

We can also create and customise packages to suit your itinerary, so let us know if you have two or more tours in mind which you would like to do and we will create an exclusive package just for you!

Call us at 1800 550 751 or click to chat with our friendly travel experts and find the perfect way to explore the Great Barrier Reef!

Scenic flight over the great barrier reef


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