Great Barrier Reef Vacation

By Brad Anthe

Your Perfect Vacation Destination

You can swim, snorkel, dive and sail the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, a living masterpiece so big it can be seen from outer space. 1,600 miles long, 133,000 square miles in area, comprising 3,000+ individual reefs and islands, and home to thousands of species.


The Great Barrier Reef is a mosaic of 2,900 individual reefs off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. The sprawling reef can be seen from space and is not only the world's largest coral reef system but also the largest structure on Earth made by living organisms.

Where is the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef stretches more than 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers) — a little more than the distance from Boston to Miami. It covers an area of 133,000 square miles (344,400 square km), reaching from the Torres Strait at it northernmost point to Fraser Island in the south. The reef includes Lady Elliot Island and the smaller Murray islands.

Things To Do

You can experience the Great Barrier Reef on any level - diving, snorkelling, sailing, cruising, liveaboard vessels, kayaking, scenic flights and island hopping are a part of everyday life.


Mackays Motel - Each room at Mackays Motel features free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and a private balcony or courtyard. Guests enjoy an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by lovely tropical gardens.

Mission Reef Resort - Just a short walk from Wongaling Beach, Mission Reef Resort offers rooms with free Wi-Fi and a private balcony overlooking the tropical gardens

Castaways Resort and Spa on Mission Beach - In a great location just 65 ft from the white sands of Mission Beach and the sparkling Coral Sea, Castaways Resort & Spa has been named one of the World's 10 Best Beachfront Hotels by Frommer’s

Passport Requirements


Health Issues/ Precautions

Things that sting
Crown of Thorns: These interesting sea stars eat coral, and at times hit populations that can damage a coral reef. They are covered with long venomous spines, and the way they look it should be easy to follow your instincts and avoid touching them

Sea Urchins: Many of the species here have shape spines, and we have read of species that can also inject a toxin. As with all reef life, avoid touching them

Fire Corals: These can inflict a very painful sting. Avoid touching branched corals, and you will avoid their sting

Stinging Hydroids: If you follow the don't touch rule you will avoid contacting these interesting organisms, who can inflict a very painful sting.

Stinging Jellyfish: There are several species jellyfish found here whose sting could be life threatening. The nets you see along the beaches during the summer months are to protect swimmers from one kind that is found along the coast. Out on the reef there is a species or set of species whose sting/venom can cause what is called Irukanji Syndrome, which can be life threatening. During times when risk of encountering these very small jellyfish is higher your dive operator may recommend you wear a lycra “stinger suit,” which drastically reduces your risk of being stung. Always follow (or exceed) the advice of the dive staff regarding this animal.

Anemones are closely related to jellyfish and corals, and like them are armed with tiny stinging cells. Thankfully most anemones are harmless, but some can deliver a painful sting. Avoid touching anemones

Stinging Fish: Lionfish, Stonefish, and certain other reef fish have spines in their fins that contain venom and can puncture you and inject the venom. Some of these fish are very well camouflaged, so avoid touching the reef, and use care when touching the bottom, and don’t annoy lionfish when you encounter them swimming.

Cone Shells: Cone shells are predatory snails, and kill their prey (usually fish) by shooting a toxin-loaded dart into them. Their handsome cone-shaped shells are very easy to spot, and under no circumstances should you pick up such a shell; a seemingly empty shell may just have the animal fully withdrawn into it. Certain species have a deadly toxin

Sting Rays: Rays are beautiful organisms, but do have a barbed spine at the base of their tail. Divers are rarely jabbed by these spines, almost always when the step, kneel, or sit on a ray hidden in the sand on the bottom. If you do find a need to rest on the bottom, shuffle the ends of your fins gently in the sand to give any ray under the sand a chance to swim off.


Marine Parks Legal Requirements

Note: Take includes removing, gathering, killing or interfering with, or attempting to take. Possess means to have custody or control of. There may be special arrangements for Traditional Owners

  • You can only take or possess up to five specimens of each restricted species at any time in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park unless you have a Marine Parks permit
  • You must abide by the fishing requirements in the Zoning Plan:
    • General Use (Light Blue) Zone and Habitat Protection (Dark Blue) Zone - maximum of three lines/rods per person, six hooks in total
    • Conservation Park (Yellow) Zone - one line/rod with one hook per person
    • Buffer (Olive Green) Zone - maximum three lines/rods per person, six hooks in total, trolling for pelagic species only
    • No fishing in the Scientific Research (Orange) Zone, Marine National Park (Dark Green) Zone or Preservation (Pink) Zone
  • You must abide by Fisheries Queensland and Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing fishing regulations including species allowed, size limits, bag limits, protected species, tackle restrictions and seasonal and area closures
  • You must not discharge fresh fish parts, unless the fish were caught in the Marine Park.