Diving in the Great Barrier Reef is not just another experience. On the contrary, it can be the most fantastic travelling experience imaginable. The most skilled and worldly divers can easily confirm this for you. People living in Australia are already aware of the stellar beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. The rest of the world can have a look at the pictures of this amazing place.
It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national treasure for Australia. Labelled by CNN as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it is a breathtaking experience not just to visit it, but rather to feel it with all your senses! Below, you can read five tips for preparing your dive in the Great Barrier Reef.
Tip #1: Organise Your Timetable
When talking about living a unique experience, we need to allow ourselves the time to enjoy it fully. The beauty and size of the place, require at least one full day to gain deserved satisfaction. Great Barrier Reef is the most extensive coral reef system in the world. It covers an area of over 344.000 square kilometers and is composed of 900 islands and more than 2.900 individual reefs. Such is its magnitude that it can be seen from outer space.
Places like this, “deserve” their time, so that they could be best discovered. It is located in the Corral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in Australia, so a well-planned timetable is required, especially for the overseas visitors. The Great Barrier Reef attracts two million visitors every year, especially scuba divers. It is, thus, quite evident that you need time to discover as much as you can while being there. Then again, for the same-day visitors, there are half-day tours that can match your needs.
Tip #2: Use the Right Outfit and Equipment
The Great Barrier Reef is a magical place to dive, with unparalleled underwater beauty. Although it sits very safe to swim all year round, it is highly recommended to wear the right outfit for maximum security. More specifically, wearing a lycra suit, if you visit the place between November and April-the warmer months in the region- is all you need for being safe.
In some parts of the Great Barrier Reef, it is possible to find jellyfish, marine stingers and Irukandji, so lycra suits are beneficial. Even if you do not own one, you can rent it at the place. You should not be much worried about the issue, though, as there are red and yellow flags that determine the safe place for swimming. There are also patrolled beaches as well as surf lifesavers who are around for the safety of all. If you are fond of scuba diving or snorkeling you will need more equipment:
Tip #3: Organise Your Stay
The Great Barrier Reef covers a vast area, so you need to organize your stay there, depending on what kind of activities you want to pursue. There are two basic options:
- Stay in one of the towns along the Great Barrier Reef
- Stay in one of the five islands of the area
Of course, if you have more available time, you could combine the two above options. If you choose to stay in a town, there are day tours that provide you with plenty of options. Taking under consideration several factors such as easy access, the size of the town and the options it offers in terms of hotels, restaurants, and cafes- the best towns for staying are the following:
As far as the islands are concerned, the best options are considered to be:
Great Keppel Island
Each of the above islands has its character: they are, literally, the precious jewel of the treasure of the Great Barrier Reef.
Tip #4: Respect the Natural Environment
The Great Barrier Reef is the most massive living structure on the planet, and its significance is not only aesthetic. Especially in our times, when climate change is considered to be the greatest challenge of humanity, the preservation of this extensive coral reef system is crucial.
Indeed, in 2016 Australian scientists from James Cook University, found that about 35 % of corals in the northern and central parts of the Great Barrier Reef have been destroyed. Some of the main reasons for this worrying fact are climate change, coastal development, and illegal fishing. It is more than evident that we, humans, are the greatest danger for our long term existence.
A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that helps to limit the impact of activities such as fishing and tourism. But still, you can reduce the environmental impact of your visit by applying the following actions:
Don’t use single-use plastic
Don’t touch the coral when diving
Use reef-safe sunscreen
Choose an eco-certified travel operator to get there
Tip #5: Choose to Get There with A Company That Has Many Dive Permits
What you will witness when visiting the Great Barrier Reef, will be a lifelong experience. To maximise your diving experience, you should choose a company that has several dive permits. This way, you will be sure that you will use the best diving places in the area and you will also be able to visit alternative diving sites if some of them are too crowded. In general, there are many more chances that you will enjoy your diving experience most, if you dive in more isolated sites, just you and the tremendous natural beauty of the area.
For divers, the Great Barrier Reef is like paradise on Earth. Its variety of animals and living organisms has no parallel. At the same time, the natural beauty of the place makes an ideal combination that promises a unique experience. However, no one should neglect the fragile nature of the Great Barrier Reef. Respecting the natural gifts is no longer an empty word, but rather a vital necessity. Let’s make sure that we leave the place untouched for the next generations to enjoy it too.
Nikos Vasilellis is the Founder of Nereids Aquatic Coaching and has a passion and love for aquatic activities which is combined with his care for helping others. Nereids Aquatic Coaching company helps children and adults to overcome their fear of water by focusing on their individual strengths and helping them enjoy safely the aquatic environment.