Australia is a continent that is far away and doesn’t reveal its secrets easily. With red soil of the desert that doesn’t yield, animals that give you the chills but awaken your curiosity at the same time, and the legend of the underwater world: the Great Barrier Reef, Australia is a destination that is going to leave you breathless both because of its nature and plenty of activities to do around.

3000 coral reefs and 900 islands
The pride of the continent, the Great Barrier Reef, which is 2,600 km long, is among the world’s greatest natural formations. This giant world of water comprises of over 3,000 coral reefs and about 900 tropical islands. At some locations, the thickness of corals reaches over 500 meters. The Great Barrier Reef, which was declared as a sea park in 1975, is a paradise for thousands of ocean species as well as turtles and birds.

Picturesque landscapes
There are thousands of diving points at coral reefs, each one more striking than another. Famous coral reefs such as Briggs Reef located offshore Cairns draws many divers and snorkeling enthusiast with the variety of fish species such as moray, stingray, and white tipped reef shark and the coral formations. Tourists reach to further diving points located at north of the Coral Sea after a weeklong travel by diving boats. Although, what brings people in here is their desire to see the mesmerizing beauty of the extraordinary underwater life at the Great Barrier Reef, floras and faunas of the islands are highly attractive on their own. You can see picturesque beaches with rain forests, hills, or rocks at some islands.

Diving, enjoying the beach, trekking
If you have only one day, take a daily boat trip from Cairns or Port Douglas. You can dive to see the coral reefs at the arrival point of your boat, which is a large float located in the middle of the sea. They ensure that you have all the necessary equipment to dive in here such as diving suit, snorkel, and aqualungs. If you don’t want to dive, you can take a glass-bottom boat trip to explore the underwater world. If you go back by a helicopter, you can enjoy the bird’s eye view of the coral reefs and the tropical islands.

You can visit Fitzroy Island by boat that departs early from Cairns, snorkel, take a walk around the island, and then enjoy the beach. If you have three days, choose an island with a great flora and a fauna and one that offers both underwater and ground activities. Divers can rest at an island with coastal reefs such as Lady Elliot, Heron or Lizard after spending a few days on one of the Lizard Island-Port Douglas boats. Beach lovers can skip the diving part and go straight to the islands such as Hinchinbrook, Orpheus, Lizard, and Hayman with remarkable beaches and trekking courses.

From Caspian gulls to humpback whales
Located at the southern point of the Great Barrier Reef that is 85 km away from the coast of Queensland, oval shaped Lady Elliot Island is one of the six islands with resorts. Located in the national sea park zone, the island, which is surrounded by reefs and great white beaches, can be visited by maximum 105 visitors at a time. The natural life at the island makes you feel its existence more than the existence of humans in the island. When the sea is calm, you might have the chance to see turtles, morays, sharks, and thousands of tropical fish.

Many tourists visit Lady Elliot to see the manta rays that feed on corals. From October to April, Lady Elliot is the mating location for Caspian gulls and rare tropical birds with red tails. Caretta caretta turtles come between November and March. Baby turtles come out of their eggs after January. Biologists in charge arrange night tours during that season. It is possible to see the humpback whales even from the restaurant located at the beach between July and October. Lady Elliot is one of the rare islands that camping is possible.

Mesmerizing, sensitive ecosystem
The United Nations included the Great Barrier Reef into the World Heritage List in 1981. The magnificent but very sensitive eco system that faces extinction has been taken under protection since 2004 by laws forbidding fishing at most of the reefs. It is so hard to believe that the reefs are so sensitive that even human sweat can harm them. It is illegal to harm them or remove a piece of them as a souvenir. The Great Barrier Reef that covers a surface, which is almost as large as half of Turkey, is a living eco system and it offers an extraordinary travel experience that you won’t come across often in your life.

Green turtles and caretta carettas come to lay their eggs to the islands such as Heron, Wilson, Lady Musgrave, and Lady Elliott.

Swim with dolphins, turtles, and dugongs at the Great Barrier Reef.

The resort of Hayman Island, Whitsundays, is like a dream with its 2 km long beach, reflecting pool, tropical gardens, and waterfalls.

Ozone layer is almost gone over Australia, so be careful of how much time you spend under the sun.