How to Really See the Great Barrier Reef

  The Reef via Flickr Creative Commons copyright Eulinky 

The Reef via Flickr Creative Commons copyright Eulinky 

I think a lot of people make the mistake of staying too close to shore when making a trip to see the Great Barrier Reef. At least that's what we did when we first started to visit it. There are a lot of islands situated along the inner reef, like Green Island, that make for an easy day trip from Cairns (one of the main towns to book trips to the Barrier Reef from). Only 30-45 minutes off shore and cheaper than a trip to the outer reef, they were our choice at first. Brochures and websites about each island described wonderful snorkeling and diving, and we were generally happy with what we found. But after awhile we got restless and decided that there must be a spot where we could truly see the vibrant corals and vast array of fish and other animals that the Great Barrier Reef is renown for. So, we booked a trip with Quicksilver to a spot on the outer reef called Agincourt. This time it took us 1.5 hrs to reach our destination, which ended up being a two story concrete structure that the company had built at the edge of the reef as a dock for their boats and as an easy platform to snorkel from. We had 3.5 hrs total for snorkeling and partaking in the included buffet lunch, which honestly felt rather short as the reef was truly tremendous. This was what we had been looking for, and all our other ventures paled in comparison: live, colorful coral, teaming with aquatic life, and water as clear as glass. However, the price for this was high ($238 per adult) so it was most likely a once in a life time experience, but one that was certainly worth it. So here's my advice: If you've never snorkeled or gone diving, have small kids who won't be able to participate, or have neutral feelings about exploring the Great Barrier Reef then I would recommend you save your money and just take a trip to the inner reef. But if you are really serious about snorkeling, diving, and seeing what the Great Barrier Reef truly has to offer, I'd save my money by avoiding trips to the inner reef and put it all towards one truly spectacular trip to the outer reef. Best of luck, and if you would like more details about using Quicksilver to visit the outer reef, feel free to send us a message.