What to wear swimming on the Great Barrier Reef

What to wear swimming on the Great Barrier Reef

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 11/22/2019

Reading time: 3 mins

When heading out on the Great Barrier Reef there is a few things you need to remember to pack, sunscreen, water, a waterproof camera perhaps. But what clothing should you take?

  • Bathers

    If you’re heading out to the reef, chances are you’re going to want to get into the water. In that case you’re going to need some bathers! Bathers come in a variety of styles, colours and patterns, and are primarily made from quick drying materials, perfect for getting in and out of the water.

    Bathers can be worn on their own, or as a sort of undergarment under other swimming clothing. For any water-activities you will need to bring your own bathers. They are easy to buy and find in Australia and range from high priced luxury brands to budget options.

  • Rash vest

    Rash vests, or rashies as they’re known locally, are lycra shirts with a high neck and should coverings. They are found in both short and long sleeved from and are commonly used by both children and adults.

    The quick drying shirts have a dual use. They protect the body from rash or chaffing caused by wetsuits or water sport boards, and as a UV deterrent. Most rashies come with a UV rating, identifying how well they prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin. Rashies are a more effective form of sun protection that sunscreen as they do not require reapplication. Plus, you don’t need to worry about the water washing them off!

    Some people choose to wear rashies under wetsuits or stinger suits as they prevent zips rubbing on their skin.

  • Stinger Suit

    Stinger suits are full-body suits designed to protect the body from the stings of dangerous jellyfish. They are much lighter than wetsuits, and a perfectly suited to the Great Barrier Reefs tropical waters. The suits have been engineered to prevent jellyfish tentacles from gripping to you. Instead, they simply slip off the fabric.

    Some of the worlds most dangerous jellyfish can be found around the reefs and coastlines in Queensland and wearing a stinger suit is a fantastic preventative measure to avoid stings. They also have the added benefit of being an additional layer of protection from the harsh Aussie sun. Many tours will offer you a stinger suit to hire in stinger season so you do not need to buy your own for one use.

Other things to pack

Bathers aren’t the only things you need to pack though! We suggest packing a sarong, glasses, sun hat and lightweight change of clothes.

A sarong, kaftan or other kind of sun cover is a great way to keep yourself protected when not in the water. You won’t want to get you clothes wet from your bathers, so throw on a light cover all and enjoy the sun while providing yourself with a little sun cover.

Your sunglasses and hat should be on you at all times in Australia. Not only will they protect your face and neck, but the sun glare off the water can be hard to see through, and your glasses will keep you from squinting all day long!

Finally, a change of clothes is always a useful thing to have in your bag. This way you can return to the docks and continue on with your day, without needing to head back to your hotel to get changed again first.

Related article: Can you still see the Great Barrier Reef if you can’t swim?

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.