The Great Barrier Reef is stretching for more than 2000km/1200mi along the Queensland coastline. Comprising 3000 reefs and 900 islands and cays, it is the world’s largest coral reef system. The Great Barrier Reef provides ample opportunities for snorkelers to explore, but you’ll generally need to take a boat tour (or to book an overnight stay on one of the islands dispersed on the barrier) to reach them.

Snorkeling with turtles and manta rays at Lady Elliot Island
The small Lady Elliot Island, located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, is one of the best spots in Australia to snorkel with manta rays and sea turtles

Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef features some of Australia’s most popular snorkeling spots. The Low Isles (located 15 kilometers northeast of Port Douglas), Green Island and Fitzroy Island (both a 45-minutes boat trip from Cairns), are highly popular with day-trippers.

The two tiny resort islands of Heron Island and Lady Elliott Island, fringed by coral reefs, are also among best snorkeling options in Queensland. Well beyond the reach of the day boats, the Ribbon Reefs are also a renowned snorkeling site, but you’ll have to book a liveaboard cruise to explore them.

Moreton Island, just 25km off Brisbane’s shore, hosts the Tangalooma Wrecks, one of the most spectacular snorkeling spots in Australia. This chain of 15 wrecks, skunk deliberately in 1963 just off the coast of the island, and reachable by swimming out there from the beach, is full of coral and fish.

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef
Boat day tours to the Great Barrier Reef are available from most of Queensland coast’s main cities

The Great Barrier Reef is home to an incredible array of marine life, including over 1500 species of reef fish, 400 varieties of hard and soft corals, sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, dugong and Maori wrasse.

When to go to snorkeling Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef?

Queensland is a year-round snorkeling destination, with a sub-tropical climate marked by two main seasons. During the humid season, from November to May, you can expect hot temperatures (the temperature often exceeds 35°C/95°F around Cairns in December) and shower rains nearly everyday, but less crowds. Humid season is also the marine stingers season, jellyfish being prevalent around the mainland and the islands of tropical Queensland. During the drier season, from June to October, you can expect lower day temperatures (around 25°C/77°F) and a sunny weather, but you will get much more snorkelers with you in the water. Central and northern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef are generally wetter and hotter than the south.

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More than 170 spots have already been published on Snorkeling Report, but there are still many spots to be added! You too can contribute to populate the map by sharing your favorite snorkeling spots around the world. The more snorkelers will contribute, the easier it will be for you, and other snorkelers, to find sites and enjoy the underwater world!

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Our favorite spots in Queensland
Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island, known the world over as « the home of the manta ray », is a coral cay located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The shallow lagoon fringing the eastern side of the island and the house...

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