What coral lives in the Great Barrier Reef?

What coral lives in the Great Barrier Reef?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 08/08/2023

Reading time: 3 mins

The Great Barrier Reef is an impressive landmark and holds the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most beautiful natural landmarks with around 2500 individual reefs. Within the Great Barrier Reef, there are over 400 different types of coral. There are two main types of corals that live in the Great Barrier Reef known as hard and soft coral.

Hard corals

Hard corals are the primary reef-building corals which are also called hermatypic corals. Without the hard corals, coral reefs would not exist.

Given the name, the hard corals have a hard and ridged outer shell. These corals can sometimes look like colourful rocks.

The most common hard coral that lives in the Great Barrier Reef is the Staghorn type. Like most hard corals, this one is an important building block in the reef and over time forms a limestone casting.

Soft corals

Though the soft corals don’t create coral reefs, they are still existing in these reefs. The soft corals are held together by a jelly-like mesoglea.

Typically, the soft corals almost look like underwater plants that move along with the water currents. This type of coral is often has bright colours and different shapes, making coral reefs look beautiful.

Colourful reef

How can I see the coral that lives in the Great Barrier Reef?

There are many ways you can explore and see the colourful corals at the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the activities are underwater, with an option for those who don’t want to go into the water.


Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef is one of the more popular activities you can do and is once in a lifetime opportunity. Snorkelling at the reef, you’ll see colourful coral and a range of marine life.


There are two types of diving you can do to see the Great Barrier Reef. Scuba diving allows you to swim about with the marine life and get up and close to the coral. Or there is helmet diving which is where you’ll walk along the seabed.

Glass bottom boat

The glass bottom boat is ideal for those who aren’t wanting to get into the water. Luckily these boats allow you to still see the beautiful underwater world. There is a boat with glass on the bottom (hence the name!), or there is a submarine-type boat that has a glass cabin you can go into.

Whether you want to jump into the water and see the variety of colourful coral, or sit back on a boat, you can book a tour and pick what you want to do! For a fun day out, we recommend the pontoon adventure tour where you can go diving, snorkelling, on the glass bottom boat and much more.

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.