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Garden Grove

Australia, Brisbane

May 4th-May 12th Where to go - Great Reef Barrier, Fraser Islan, or Cairns?

Hey all!

I got some time for adventure after a wedding, and would like to check out the underwater magnificence the area is known for! 

It'd be 3 of us. I'm considering doing a few days liveaboard diving boat, and (finally) getting a certification in the process.

We probably won't have time for all of these, but which one(s) would be the best place to go with the time we have? Any operator recommendations? Also, I love seafood - does anybody know if we get to eat freshly caught seafood on those liveaboards? =D

Budget is flexible, as long as it's worth it!

(Note: I've dived a couple times before (with guides), and snorkeled several times.)

4 Answers

top answer by

I'm not sure living aboard while getting certification, but there are plenty of operators along the whole Great Barrier Reef. I honestly think Cairns is a bit overrated and the barrier reef has been overtaken by tourists and is not in it's best condition. 

The best areas of the barrier reef are around Townsville and Airlie Beach. My suggestion is head to Airlie Beach. This is the departure town for the Whitsundays Region just off the coast and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world Whitehaven Beach. Airlie beach it's is also a great little town full of bars and restaurants, great for a night out after a long day diving of checking out the awesome islands of the region. From here you can take sail boats or liveaboards that go to the best dive spots of the barrier reef in this region... 

If you do get to dive about 10-15 times do not miss out diving on the Yongala wreck (minimum dives are a pre-req). It's half way between the barrier reef and the continent and a two hour boat ride south or Townsville or north of airlie beach and it's considered the best wreck dive in the world. It's going to be by far the most fascinating dive of your life! It's in a protected 

Marine area and due to the location of the dive it's created a whole ecosystem with an insane number of marine life and some extremely large animals!! 

If you don't want to miss out the area around cairns you can always drive up to Townsville from airlie beach and catch a flight to cairns or if you can afford catch a flight from Hamilton island (Whitsunday's most exclusive island and where Australia's most luxurious resort is located). When up there do the drive to Port Douglas along the coast or spend a couple of days just north of cairns in Palm Cove which is up and coming one of the most popular destinations in the country. 

Fraser Island is so great but if you could only choose one place don't make this your priority.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Great Barrier Reef (attraction)
  2. Cairns (city)
  3. Townsville (attraction)
  4. Airlie Beach (city)
  5. Whitsundays Region (attraction)
  6. Whitehaven Beach (attraction)
  7. Port Douglas (attraction)
  8. Palm Cove (city)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
erin from Australia

I would highly recommend Fraser Island its just beautiful, not too huge but has plenty to see. Cairns is very touristy but if you go do the Kurundah train ride and the skyrail on the way down, amazing views, and a must do! if you have the time and can get up and see Mossman Gorge!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Fraser Island (attraction)
  2. Cairns (city)
  3. Mossman Gorge (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Jen from Australia

Hi Jennifer you would be best to go straight to Cairns where you can access the Great Barrier Reef by boat. I'm not sure of any operators there but start doing a search via trip advisor and you'll get some good insights. Fraser Island is lovely but too far south to access the reef. You'll definitely get great seafood in Cairns. While you are there it is well worth going north of Cairns to Port Douglas and  also to the sky rail out of Cairns which takes you into the top of the rainforest. Have fun!!!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cairns (city)
  2. Port Douglas (attraction)
1 thanks

answered first by
Justin from Phoenix

Well, you'll have to go through Cairns to get the Great Barrier Reef ... and Fraser Island isn't far off either. I'd say skip Fraser if you're pressed for time. But your tours might wind up there, anyway.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cairns (city)
  2. Fraser Island (attraction)
1 thanks

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