The Great Barrier Reef is considered to the ultimate in scuba diving adventures in the world which offer same excitement to experts as well as beginners. So what is so special about the Great Barrier Reef ? First of all, the size. Its simple huge – stretching over 1400 miles along Australia’s East Coast. It is not only the largest reef system in the world, but many consider it as one of the most beautiful too. If this has been your dream to visit this natural wonder, here are some tips for the first-time traveler :

The Location of the Reef

Situated near Queensland in Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is about 185 miles away from the mainland on the southern side. It is about 12 miles away from the shore on the northern side. It is about 50 miles wide at the northern side – the widest stretch. What can you expect to see at the Great Barrier Reef. The amazing variety of plant and animal life which have made its home here is mind-boggling. You can, actually see about 4000 species of mollusks, more than 1000 species of fish, about 380 species of coral, 500 species of seaweed, six varieties of sea turtles.

How to Get to the Barrier Reef

There are daily flights to Australia from the West Coast in the United States. When you reach Australia, you may have to take a small connecting flight to land near one of the gateways to the reef. Generally people go for Cairns and Townsville, two tropical cities located near the northern side of the reed. The other gateway is at Gladstone and Bundaberg, located near the southern side of the reef.

The Ultimate Scuba Diving Adventure

The calm and lucid waters around the reef make it the best location for scuba diving in the world. Water may run deep at certain places, but is generally moderate for amateurs to dive in. For beginners, diving should be in shallow waters – about 60 feet in depth. However for experts, there are reefs around the Coral Sea where the depth is about 300 feet.

To go through one of the best scuba diving experiences, you can board one of the popular ‘live aboard’ boats. These specialized boats take visitors right where the action is. Many such boats have convenient luxury amenities and can organize boats to take divers right at the center of the reef. There are day boats available for day-time scuba diving. These day boats take visitors for 4 to 5 hour trips into the reef. Even local resorts organize these day boats for their guests.

Finding a ‘Dive Island’ Resort

Resorts located in small islands around the reef are capable of organizing scuba diving trips for the guests. They provide convenient access to the reef and are great for visitors looking for a scuba diving adventure. Generally these resorts are situated in Lizard, Green, Lady Elliot, and Heron islands. ‘Cod Hole” – a popular diving site is situated off Lizard Island.

Best Time to Visit the Reef

Anytime of the year is considered to be safe and suitable to visit the reef for scuba diving. This is because of the nature of the water which is normally calm and steady. The Australian summer is considered to be popular – which is between December and March. Because of the tropical climate, the temperature usually hovers around 70 to mid-80s.This makes a visit to the Great Barrier Reef and its surrounding cities pleasant at anytime of the year.

Abby Johnson