Great Barrier Reef Quick Facts
- Largest coral reef system in the world
- Consists of over 2,900 separate reefs
- Stretches over 1,600 miles (2,600 km)
- Can be seen from outer space
- The 133,000 square miles (344,000 km) includes 900 islands
Great Barrier Reef
The great barrier reef is the world’s largest individual formation created by living organisms. As the largest coral reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef includes over 900 islands, over 2,900 separate reefs, and supports one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef is possible the grandest natural wonder in the world and is the only wonder of nature that may be visible recognized from outer space. The reef stretches 1,600 miles (2,600 km) along the north eastern coast of Australia and it covers over 133,000 square miles (344,000 sq km).
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Best Ways to Experience the Great Barrier Reef
Probably the best way to see and experience the Great Barrier Reef is through the lens of an underwater mask. Snorkeling or scuba diving provides an up close view of some of the most vibrant fish, coral and marine life.
A guaranteed spectacular experience is to have an up close and personal encounter through either a snorkeling or scuba diving expedition. In most cases, a pontoon boat will be used to make the reef more accessible. “Live aboards” which are floating guest facilities also provide an opportunity for visitors to experience the reef up close for extended periods.
Visitors can select from a variety of boat or cruise tours that include single day trips, extended stays and varying boat sizes. There are a number of hotels located on some of the reef islands providing direct access to your underwater adventures. No matter where you stay, what type of craft or what length of trip, it is imperative to make sure that you take time to snorkel or scuba dive in order to ensure the best experience possible.
A helicopter tour is an excellent way to get above the Great Barrier Reef and witness the size and expanse of this spectacular marine natural wonder. In many places the sun will penetrate the shallow waters and light up the reef below. Flying over the reef will enable you to really appreciate the grandeur of this wonder of nature.
Best Times to Explore the Great Barrier Reef
The weather is tropical and fairly consistent with it rarely being extremely hot or extremely cold. The summer temperatures range from 73 to 91 degrees and the winter months range from the upper 50s to the mid 70s. The rainy season occurs from November through May which accounts for over 75% of the annual rainfall during this period. The main thing to know about the weather is that it is sunny and tropical, so the primary planning involves sun protection and comfort.
Great Barrier Reef Photography Tips
The most important photographic tip is that you buy, borrow, or rent a nice underwater camera. The variety of marine life and the spectacular images are something you will not want to miss nor forget. Make sure you learn how to use it before you get to the reef so that your time is focused on experiencing the reef and capturing images versus learning how to work the camera.
You can always purchase one of the disposable underwater cameras so that you have something, but you will probably appreciate spending the extra money for a camera that is designed for underwater. If you already have a DSLR or other camera, it is quite possible that they make an underwater housing for it. If it is your current camera, this will make it easier for knowing what to do and how to manage your camera.
The shallower the water the greater and more accurate the color will be in your images. It does not take long before the light gets diffused and you begin to lose colors. If you have a strobe or flash that works underwater, this will help you capture truer pictures of the fish and coral that you experience underwater.
The same is true for video cameras. If you already have a video camera, it is quite possible that there is an underwater housing case for it. Capturing the fish and marine life that swim past you will also help make for a memorable experience.
Great Barrier Reef Travel Tips
Many cities along the coast of Queensland in Australia offer boating tours. Several islands along the reef have been turned into resorts providing a great place to stay for visitors who want to come and go as they explore the reef from day to day. Approximately 2 million visitors travel to the Great Barrier Reef every year, so it is important to plan early providing the greatest chance of securing the options that foster your best experience.
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