Great Barrier Reef Virtual Tour

Great Barrier Reef Virtual Tour

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 06/19/2020

Reading time: 5 mins

Put your bathers on, slop on some sunscreen and get ready to explore the Great Barrier Reef via our virtual tour.

Visible from space and home to an astonishing array of corals, fish and marine animals, The Great Barrier Reef is an incredible natural wonder and top of many travellers’ bucket lists. But since lockdown our boats have been stuck in the marina and our friends on the reef are missing us! The real tours will be running again from June 8th, but if you can’t be there now, we hope this virtual tour will give you a taste of the fantastical underwater world that is waiting to be explored.

We’ll begin our tour from Cairns and head to the outer reef, where we can dive into the warm tropical water and explore part of the world’s largest reef system. So get your mask and fins ready as we jump right in!

  • Norman Reef

    Located 70 kilometres off the coast of Cairns is one of the region’s most popular snorkelling sites, Norman Reef. Jump in the water and explore the incredible coral gardens, home to a huge range of marine animals, colourful tropical fish, and vibrant and unusual corals. The crystal-clear water offers fantastic visibility, up to 30 metres depending on the conditions, perfect for snorkelling or diving.

    Exploring the waters offers the chance to observe some of the weird and wonderful animals that call the reef home. Keep your eyes peeled for some of these amazing animals:

    Clown fish

    Get ready to find Nemo! These cute orange fish inhabit the Great Barrier Reef, making their home in anemones. Also known as anemonefish, clown fish form symbiotic relationships with their hosts, protecting each other from predators and increasing feeding opportunities. It’s unknown exactly why the clownfish don’t get stung by the anemones’ tentacles, but their coevolution with their hosts is believed to have made them immune to the stings. They are shy little fish but keep a lookout around soft corals as they might be hiding close by.


    Spotting a turtle on the reef is an awesome experience. These chilled-out animals are incredible to witness as they move through the water. The Great Barrier Reef is home to six of the world’s seven marine turtle species. Commonly seen are the loggerhead and green turtles, but you might also be lucky enough to see a hawksbill or flatback turtle. The olive ridley and leatherback turtles also inhabit the reef, but are rarely seen in the wild.

    Maori Wrasse

    Keep your eyes peeled for this colourful gentle giant as you explore underwater. With males growing up to an incredible two metres, coming face to face with this odd-looking fish might seem intimidating, but they are friendly, playful, and quite inquisitive. Their vibrant colours range from orangey-red in females, to electric blues, greens and purples of mature males. Interestingly, they are protogynous hermaphrodites, born with both female and male sex organs, and can change gender at around nine years.

    Giant Clams

    Not all the interesting animals of the Great Barrier Reef can swim. Sitting on the reef and disguised by the corals, you may spot another fascinating animal that doesn’t move around at all, the giant clam. These enormous molluscs have life span of 100 years and can weigh up to 200 kilograms. While it was once believed they could eat a diver whole, earning them the nickname ‘man-eating clams’, the giant clam is actually harmless to humans.

  • Diving

    Certainly one of the best ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef is by diving. Even if you have never dived before, you can have a go with a beginner dive which will take you under the water to a maximum depth of eight metres. The experienced crew will show you some dive basics and go through some simple skills before you jump in the water. Breathing underwater through the regulator (mouthpiece) can feel a little awkward at first, and your first dive can be intimidating, but once you feel comfortable you will be ready to descend. With a dive master to guide you, you can enjoy the peace underwater as you explore the bright corals and admire the colourful tropical fish. It’s an incredible way to view the marine life and corals from a new perspective!

  • Fitzroy Island

    While the outer-reef locations offer fantastic opportunities for snorkelling and experiencing life underwater, the islands of the inner-reef are also a great way to enjoy the array of marine life of Tropical North Queensland. Fitzroy Island, just 29 kilometres offshore from Cairns, is a tropical island paradise, perfect for snorkelling, kayaking or just lazing about on the beach.

    With 97% of the island covered by the Fitzroy Island National Park, it feels like an untouched wilderness. There is a resort and bar close to the jetty, but most of the island is blanketed by tropical rainforest, which can be explored via four walking trails. One easy walk with take you to Nudey Beach, often ranked one of the top beaches in Australia. Don’t let the name fool you, the incredible beach is family friendly.

    Another popular attraction on Fitzroy Island is the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Here they care for sick and injured turtles, rehabilitating them before releasing them into the ocean. Book a tour to see the amazing work the volunteers do here and meet some of the adorable patients.

The computer screen is no substitute for seeing the Great Barrier Reef for yourself so we look forward to welcoming you soon!

Related article: Which is the Best Great Barrier Reef Tour?

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.