Welcome to the Great Barrier Reef. A World Heritage area, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. The awe-inspiring region has an abundance of marine life, ancient cultural connections and offers spectacular scenic views above and below the water. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a multiple use area offering a variety of activities.
We invite everyone to enjoy the region in an environmentally and reef-friendly way that maintains the area’s ecological, cultural and heritage values. All users are responsible for the environment around them and their actions in it.
Everyone can visit the Marine Park throughout the year and there are activities for all interests, ranging from fishing, to amazing snorkelling, diving and sailing experiences.
Both locals and visitors go to the Marine Park on their own boats or independently travel to beaches and islands.
It is important to take the time to read about the rules and Responsible Reef Practices before you visit.
Visiting the Marine Park with a permitted tourism operator is a great way to experience the Reef and ensure you are following best practice. Consider choosing a high standard tourism operator who makes it a priority to care for the Reef.
- Here are some tourist activities to enjoy:
- Aircraft or helicopter tours — go on a flight of a lifetime. Some tours also fly to pontoons and larger vessels or even land on the water.
- Bareboats (self-sail) — control your own destiny and self-sail a bareboat! Bareboats are un-crewed vessels more than six metres, motorised, or with sail.
- Beach hire — prefer island beaches? Look for beach hire equipment such as kayaks and paddleboards.
- Cruise ships — thousands of passengers are experiencing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef on cruise ships.
- Day tours — most tourists visit on a day tour — whether it be on large high speed catamarans to outer reef pontoons, or smaller sailing and cruising vessels.
- Diving and fishing charters — if you like to be in amongst the environment you can choose a diving or fishing adventure.
- Long range roving tours — long range rovers offer customised charter. Groups are small and the trips can cover long distances and provide you with the experience you want.
- Motorised water sports — for fun and adrenalin based activities you can parasail or jet ski. Tours and hire are available at island resorts and popular beach towns along the coast.
- Passenger ferries — Passenger ferries are generally available to access tropical islands.
- Superyachts — Explore the Reef in style! Find out all you need to know about superyachts.
- Whale watching and swimming with whales — view these magnificent creatures on their winter journey to the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
Know the rules for the popular areas and specific locations you visit and remember to make sure you conduct your activities responsibly.
For those conducting a permitted activity (for example, a tourism operator or a researcher) you will find relevant information under Access and use by location.
Also refer to your permit and relevant legislation for more information on what is required when you access and operate in the Marine Park.
If you are visiting with a superyacht, check out more information on superyachts to help with planning your trip.
Essential information for all users
It is important to be familiar with the different management tools used within the Marine Park as there are implications for non-compliance.
For example, there’s no-take areas where fishing isn’t allowed and other specific areas where specific rules apply.
Find out more or go directly to Access and Use by Location to find out what rules apply to the area you are visiting.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is a multiple-use area. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003 provides for a range of uses and activities across the Marine Park.
It’s important to know what zone you’re in when visiting the Marine Park. Refer to zoning to learn more. Either pick up a zoning map for the area you are visiting from your local bait and tackle shop or download the Eye on the Reef app.
Plans of management apply to all users and complement Marine Park zoning by addressing issues specific to an area, species or community in greater detail.
Plans of Management protect and conserve Marine Park values at a regional scale and allow for a range of experiences and types of use while still allowing the iconic area to be enjoyed.
These plans closely manage access (vessel length and group sizes), types of tourism operations, frequency of visits, private mooring facilities, activities such as motorised water sports, aircraft landing areas and anchorages.
- There are four plans of management currently in the Marine Park:
- Cairns Area Plan of Management
- Hinchinbrook Plan of Management
- Whitsundays Plan of Management
- Shoalwater Bay (Dugong) Plan of Management
Site specific management comes in a number of forms to protect the sensitive values and balance multiple uses at a localised level.
It’s important to enjoy the Marine Park in a responsible and 'reef friendly' way.
Responsible Reef Practices inform everyone of “best practice” when doing activities such as anchoring and mooring, diving and snorkelling, motorised water sports and many more.
Marine Park rules help protect the Great Barrier Reef and ensure it’s enjoyed in an ecologically sustainable way. Before you visit, it’s important to be familiar with the area you’re going to and the Marine Park rules that apply. These can include zoning, plans of management and site specific requirements .
We aim to make this information easy to find. Click on the region you are planning to visit to learn what you can do and where you can go.