What You Can See at Hastings Reef

Hastings Reef is set on the Outer Edge Reef, about 30 nautical miles from Cairns. The Great Barrier Reef is so expansive that it seems strange to travel so far out to sea to explore the vibrant underwater world. But, in fact, it was here that the reef began to grow more than 15,000 years ago, when it marked the edge of the Australian coast.

Today, Hastings Reef is a flurry of colour, and the preferred location for many corals because it is so far away from the coast and the currents of the surrounding rivers and streams. It may well be the very edge of the Pacific Ocean, but this is where Great Barrier Reef’s marine life thrives the most, and it is here that you’ll find the most eclectic selection of sea creatures and dynamic sights.

The reef itself spans a 10 square kilometre patch of ocean, encompassing a spectacular collection of corals and wildly exotic fish. Large areas of around 18 metres include all sorts of corals, from fire and plate, to pillar and brain varieties. In addition, there are plenty of pretty coral gardens that span the area, as well as a network of cave systems that make the region so diverse.

The area is well-loved by divers and snorkelers, because the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean means the water is clear and visibility is good. There are plenty of coral caves, overhangs, water drop offs, canyons, and shallow bays to explore, all of which are characterised by an amazing selection of wildlife.

What you can expect to see at Hastings Reef

This part of the Great Barrier Reef is buzzing with marine life in all shapes and sizes. Along the steep edges of the coral cliff, there are huge schools of tiny fish, majestic sea turtles, giant clams, and everything in between.

Expect to see brightly colour fish species, like butterfly fish and damsel fish as well as the popular clown fish, just like from Finding Nemo.

Keep your eyes peeled for exotic anemones and staghorn coral which pop up regularly around the region, and fish species like sweetlip, cod, and trout. For yet more colour, there are angelfish and rabbit fish, as well as friendly shark species that will keep you on your toes. We’re talking whitetip reef sharks that mill about the deeper parts of Hastings Reef, as well as lagoon rays that relax their flat bodies on the sandy floor.

Visit the Hastings Reef on our Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour.