Hastings Reef, Great Barrier Reef

Cairns, Queensland 4805

Hastings Reef is set on the Outer Edge Reef, about 30 nautical miles from Cairns.

Coral Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is so expansive that it seems strange to travel so far out to sea to explore the vibrant underwater world. But, in fact, it was here that the reef began to grow more than 15,000 years ago, when it marked the edge of the Australian coast.

About Hastings Reef

Today, Hastings Reef is a flurry of colour, and the preferred location for many corals because it is so far away from the coast and the currents of the surrounding rivers and streams. It may well be the very edge of the Pacific Ocean, but this is where Great Barrier Reef’s marine life thrives the most, and it is here that you’ll find the most eclectic selection of sea creatures and dynamic sights.

The reef itself spans a 10 square kilometre patch of ocean, encompassing a spectacular collection of corals and wildly exotic fish. Large areas of around 18 metres include all sorts of corals, from fire and plate, to pillar and brain varieties. In addition, there are plenty of pretty coral gardens that span the area, as well as a network of cave systems that make the region so diverse.

The area is well-loved by divers and snorkelers, because the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean means the water is clear and visibility is good. There are plenty of coral caves, overhangs, water drop offs, canyons, and shallow bays to explore, all of which are characterised by an amazing selection of wildlife.

What you can expect to see at Hastings Reef


This part of the Great Barrier Reef is buzzing with marine life in all shapes and sizes. Along the steep edges of the coral cliff, there are huge schools of tiny fish, majestic sea turtles, giant clams, and everything in between.

Expect to see brightly colour fish species, like butterfly fish and damsel fish as well as the popular clown fish, just like from Finding Nemo.

Keep your eyes peeled for exotic anemones and staghorn coral which pop up regularly around the region, and fish species like sweetlip, cod, and trout. For yet more colour, there are angelfish and rabbit fish, as well as friendly shark species that will keep you on your toes. We’re talking whitetip reef sharks that mill about the deeper parts of Hastings Reef, as well as lagoon rays that relax their flat bodies on the sandy floor.

What you can do here

  • Snorkelling


    Plunge into the sapphire waters of the reef and dip below the surface to see the magnificent underwater wonderland. With a pair of flippers and goggles with a breathing rod, you can get up close and personal with the fantastic creatures of the reef! Simply float on the water’s surface and look down below to the colourful array of wildlife. The Hastings Reef is a natural hotspot, with fish whizzing around you and massive sarsens of colourful coral. Snorkelling is a great activity for anyone, regardless of your fitness or swimming ability. Even if the flippers aren’t enough, you can grab a floating device that helps move around the reef even more. It’s so easy, even young kids can be masters of it!

  • Scuba Diving

    Scuba Diving

    Dive down to the seafloor and stay there! Scuba diving cuts out the pesky issue of heading up to the surface for air, instead of attached an oxygen tank to you so you can spend however long you desire amongst the fishes. For Hastings reef, scuba diving lets you get up close and personal with the deeper marine life, including the sea floor lagoon rays. Barrier Reef. Whether you are new to diving, or a certified diver, it’s easy to get the hang out it and spend an unforgettable day in the wonderland that is Hastings Reef.

  • Glass Bottom Boat

    Not much of a swimmer? Have no fear, as you can still see underwater without having to get a toe wet! The Glass bottom boat features a small boat with a, yep you guessed it, completely clear bottom! Letting you see the underwater world as the boat slowly trudges across the surface. See the Hastings local reef sharks and colourful fish aplenty as you enjoy this unique style of sightseeing.

Related article: Facts about the Great Barrier Reef

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