Is it safe to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef?

Is it safe to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 05/31/2021

Reading time: 4 mins


The Great Barrier Reef the world’s most incredible underwater sanctuaries, an endless stretch of coastline dotted with vibrant coral reefs and unique marine life that has to be seen to be believed.


The Great Barrier Reef continues to impress people from all over the world when they come see the reef for themselves. But is it safe to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef? It certainly is and it is one 0of the most popular activities you can do!

To discover this remarkable tropical area, go on glass-bottom boat, a helicopter or a seaplane, or go diving and snorkelling to meet the reefs marine life.

Let’s take a look at some of the best places to snorkel along this incredible stretch of coastline.

Popular individual reefs of the Great Barrier Reef’

There are over 2900 individual reefs that are part of the Great Barrier Reef. Here you’ll learn about some of the most popular ones you can snorkel at.

  • Breaking Patches

Breathing Patches is an ideal spot to go snorkelling or diving to see the different types of coral and marine life. Here you can come along some white tip reef sharks, blue spot lagoon rays, and all kinds of fish.

  • Hastings Reef

Hastings Reef is a popular spot for snorkelling, diving, and for a glass bottom boat experience. As you go exploring this reef, you’ll notice a range of colours from the coral and even some tropical fish. If you go snorkelling at Hastings Reef, you could be luckily enough to spot green sea turtles and reef squids.

  • Saxon Reef

Saxon Reef has a diverse range of tropical marine species including white tip reef sharks, butterflyfish, and barramundi cod. Snorkelling is a great way to explore Saxon Reef to see for yourself the different types of marine life living here.

  • Norman Reef

Norman Reef has clear waters which helps makes it one of the best reefs you can snorkel at. Norman Reef also has caves and swim throughs for those who decide to dive here as well. There are different kinds of marine species to see here from white tip reef sharks, bronze whalers, and the giant Maori wrasse.

Great Barrier Reefs islands

Within the Great Barrier Reef, there are around 900 islands, with a few that you can visit and snorkel from.

  • Green Island, Cairns

Green Island is one of the many sand cays along the Great Barrier Reef, but this is the only one with a rainforest! With that being said, Green Island is easily one of the best places to experience some parts of the Great Barrier Reef. You can explore the lush rainforest and go snorkelling directly from the island and spot tones of tropical fish. Green Island is truly a way to experience some of the absolute wonders this marine marvel has to offer.

  • Lady Elliot Island, Bundaberg

Lady Elliot Island is the perfect island in the Great Barrier Reef to go snorkelling (and diving)! This coral cay island situated in a marine park has an amazing underwater garden that is basically hugging the beach, so you won’t need to snorkel far!

As you go off snorkelling, you may be lucky enough to experience some colourful reef fish, sea urchins and rays! There are also dolphins and whales you could spot from the island as well.

  • Magnetic Island, Townsville

Magnetic Island is one of the best snorkelling islands in Queensland. The island offers premium places for beginner snorkellers to try out by going on marked trails. These trails provide boundaries for the most beautiful aspects of the reef.

For those who are just getting started, about 100 metres offshore is Nelly Bay and is a great spot for beginners. However, the Geoffrey Bay trail is a way to see the remains of the SS Moltke and part of a WWII fighter jet.

If there is one thing you need to do while visiting the Great Barrier Reef, it is to go snorkelling! The reef is a snorkeller’s paradise, regardless of if you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out. Treat yourself to a tour and learn about how to snorkel and discover how beautiful the Great Barrier Reef is.

Related article: Top 5 Things to Do in the Great Barrier Reef

Previous article: What is the best month to visit the Great Barrier Reef?

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.