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Published on January 25th, 2013 | by Andrew Garcia

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7 Natural Wonders Guide: The Great Barrier Reef

The Wonders of the Great Barrier Reef

The vastness of the ocean serves as an open invitation for travelers to explore its great and rich wonders. There are many wonderful diving sites that could leave a traveler diver in awe but none of them comes as close to the colorful and majestic beauty of the great barrier reef.

The Great barrier Reef is a large formation of corals and a vast underwater ecosystem located at the Pacific Coast of  Queensland, Australia.  It serves as a home to a large collection of fishes and other marine life which makes it one of the Great Wonders of the World. The Great Barrier Reef was also named as on of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for its very rich and diverse collection of marine life.

 

The Great Barrier Reef from a helicopter

Part of The Great Barrier Reef from a helicopter

Quick Facts About the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most fascinating and interesting sites to visit in Australia. Here are some of the wonderful and astonishing facts about the Reef.

  • The great barrier reef is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It stretches to an area of almost 2,600 kilometers located in the Coral Sea.
  • Due to its large size, the Great Barrier Reef is the biggest single structure made my natural organisms.
  • It can be seen from space.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is home to thirty species of whales, dolphins and turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life. There are also 215 species of birds and countless other creatures which inhabit the different areas of the reef.   Aside from the different species of marine and animals, the reef also supports 2,195 species of plants with at least two being endemic.
  • At present, the reef is being threatened by pollution, over fishing and other environmental hazards. Climate changes is also a serious problem in the area which prompted authorities to declare various parts of the reef as protected area.

 

Touring the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling with Wally the Giant Maori Wrasse

Snorkelling with Wally the Giant Maori Wrasse

 

Tourism is the main economic driving force in the Great Barrier Reef. Each year hundreds of thousands  of tourists visit the area accounting for almost $ 1 Billion in revenue annually. The best way to go around the reef is by boat. Cairns is considered the best starting point but other areas like the beaches of Cooktown, Port Douglas, Airlie Beach and Mission Beach are a good starting point to begin your journey into this majestic diving and tourist destination.

 

Daily boat trips start very early in the morning. The further one goes up north, the shorter the trip to the reef becomes. Lunch is often included in the trips and late afternoon returns are offered. There are also overnight stays and night trips available from th many tour agencies in the area. However, accommodations may vary and not all islands are in the reef. This is why it is best to always inquire ahead of time.

Some resources:

http://www.great-barrier-reef-tours.com

http://www.quicksilver-cruises.com

 

Activities in the Great Barrier Reef

 

Diving

The primary reason why people visit the Great Barrier Reef are its majestic diving sites which captivate divers. Townsville and Port Douglas in Cairns are the best places to start learning to dive. There are various diving schools in the area that would provide the gears and equipment as well as the necessary skills in order to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. Land base dive courses start at $500 while live board starts at $700 which would allow students to dive at the reef side by side with their instructors.

diving at the reef

Diving at the reef

 

Boat Tours

For those who wish to do some island hopping and see the sites around the reef, boat tours are available daily. Some of the very notable places to visit are Pumpkin Island and Bedarra Island. Pumpkin island is a majestic jewel situated off the Capricorn Coast near Yeppoon within the Great Barrier Reef Marine and Eco Park. The trip cost $300 with cottages that are powered by the wind and the sun. Bedarra Island on the other hand is a privately owned island between the mainland and the Great Barrier Reef. There are 16 villas in the resort which can accommodate up to 32 guests at one time. It  is however not available for families with children below 12 years old.

Boat tours are a great way to see the reef with children who are unable to dive

Boat tours are a great way to see the reef with children who are unable to dive

Wine and Dine

The food and the drink are also a great reason to visit the many sites around the Great Barrier reef. In the many restaurants and hotels, one can indulge in the best seafood bounty that the ocean can offer. With some of the freshest food, the range of very tasty meals prepared by the professional chefs and staff are everything a hungry traveler could ask for. Wine and alcohol are also plenty with drinks being served during boat trips at anytime of the day. There are various themed bars which cater both to the younger crowd and the older, more sophisticated travellers.

 

With all these activities and its pristine beauty, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the premiere locations that every tourist should visit. This wonder should be a part of everyone’s must see places and worthy of its distinction as one of the wonders of the world.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Barrier_Reef

http://www.greatbarrierreef.org

http://www.australia.com/explore/icons/great-barrier-reef.aspx


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2 Responses to 7 Natural Wonders Guide: The Great Barrier Reef

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