One of the Natural World’s Seven Wonders also happens to be a major center for the diving industry, and, of course, this is the Great Barrier Reef. Offering excellent diving conditions and visibility year round, it is clear why this is the top of every diver’s to-do list.
Queensland, Australia makes most of its profit off of the diving/tourist industry, and the sheer number of visitors and service providers has had significant effect on the quality and price of the services provided, making a trip to the world’s greatest coral reef possible for tourists of all budgets. This industry has altered the state of the coral, but great measures are taken to maintain it, and keep it open for many more generations of divers.
As mentioned above, visibility in the Great Barrier Reef is excellent year round, and the water temperature stays around 27°C, but August to December (the Australian summer) is the best time for scuba divers planning ahead. Water currents are very mild near the coast, but anyone venturing to distant locations like Osprey Reef will find both strong currents and strong winds.
The coral remains healthy, and brimming with hundreds of schools of colorful, tropical fish. Visitors can expect to see magnificent tuna, groupers, parrot fish, barracudas, manta rays, and even docile sharks. The list goes on indefinitely. Shipwrecks that have in the course of time become dive sites are home to many different types of sea creatures as well, and diving companies enable exciting shark dives with whitetips, grey nurse sharks, silvertips, and bull sharks, as well as whale watching tours. Of these, the Yongala wreck is probably the most exciting wreck dive in the worlds.
Getting to the Great Barrier Reef can be done in different manners, usually depending on the passengers’ budget and the time they wish to spend there. The largest part of the Great Barrier Reef is located very far from the Australian mainland, so daytrips are only available for the Outer Reef. However, most people opt to go on liveaboards, and spend almost a week sleeping, eating, and living on a boat, spending the larger part of the day performing dives at the best spots.
There are even further destinations, well worth the trip, and belonging to the Great Barrier Reef. Places like Osprey Reef are remote, and would take over a week to go to. These are clearly spots reserved for veteran divers who have come to the Land Down Under simply for the sport. Sometimes, however, dive operators organize these very distant trips via seaplane, immensely cutting travel time.
The Outer Reef, where most of the diving happens, simply due to its vicinity, is situated around 60 km from the city of Cairns (where the majority of Australian dive operators and boat charters have a base). The waters here are not as clear as the 60 m visibility you can find on Osprey Reef. In fact, the visibility here is closer to 20 m. However, the Outer Reef is an excellent place for learners who wish to acquire their Padi Open Water certification.