Can you visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns?

Can you visit the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 12/04/2020

Reading time: 3 mins

The Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly one of the worlds most unbelievable natural structures, and the best way to see it for yourself is by heading to the Far-North Queensland city of Cairns.

Cairns is the one-stop location that offers adventures to the Great Barrier Reef daily, as well as being the gateway to other spectacular destinations including the Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda, and the Atherton Tablelands.

Surrounded by mountains and sea

Cairns is a small city that is located approximately 3 hours north by plane from Sydney. It is usually the last or first stop on any backpacker who wishes to travel along Australia’s famous East Coast. With a population of around 150,000 people and a large number of travellers visiting each year, Cairns is a lively city with so much to do. Not only is there substantial natural beauty that surrounds it, but there is also a great dining scene, nightlife, shopping, and of course stunning resorts and accommodation.

What is the best way to see the Great Barrier Reef?

Depending on what you wish to see and how you would like to do it, there are an unlimited amount of options for you to choose from when it comes to seeing the Great Barrier Reef for yourself. Whether you wish to snorkel, scuba dive, observe from a distance or learn about this unbelievable ecosystem, there is something for everyone to choose from. Once you have decided on the way you would like to visit the reef, you will most likely need to head down to the Reef Fleet Terminal, which is located on Spence Street. This is where all of the boats depart from on their journey to the reef. If you are not staying within close distance to the Reef Fleet Terminal, do not worry, you can enquire about a pickup from your accommodation through us.

Can you see the reef without leaving Cairns?

Due to the outer location of the reef, you cannot see it from Cairns itself. The water in Cairns is not ideal, as it is mostly mudflats, however, it only takes a boat ride of around 45 minutes to several hours to reach certain parts of the reef. The Great Barrier Reef is huge, so large it can actually be seen from space, therefore you can reach it from many different points and it can be seen from several towns along the coast, however, Cairns is not one of them.

Related article: Is Great Barrier Reef Worth it?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.