The Irresistible Lure of the Great Barrier Reef
Spanning nearly 3000 km (1800 mi) of Australia’s northeastern coast, the Great Barrier Reef reveals the world’s largest collection of coral and marine life. An impressive garden of coral systems and cays with over 400 coral varieties, and a plethora of marine life of some 1500 species of tropical fish, sponges, mollusks, rays, dolphins and sea turtles make this amazing marine park a snorkeling and diving paradise.
We made our base on Heron Island, a coral cay at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef and an excellent family location to discover the wonders of this amazing place. Here the kids loved the endless coral garden in the waters right off the beach, and the vibrant kaleidoscope of marine life. Heron is a haven for nature lovers with a rich variety of bird life, including herons, mutton birds and terns flocking the island. It is also one of the few places you can take guided reef walks and learn about the ecology unique to the Great Barrier Reef. For us, it was the perfect destination to start our adventure.
We chose to venture out onto the outer reef for a day of snorkeling. Once in the water, the rewards are immediate and we spent our first hour paddling around the surface, just in awe of the amazing reef below. The reef was shallow and breathtaking, with the brilliant colors of the coral everywhere, touched only by a slight tinge of the blue ocean. Hundreds of vibrantly colored fish crossed below and around us. Certainly used to the humans around them, these fish are not shy! Some of the larger ones even let us touch them.
We spotted anemones with clownfish in their clutches and parrotfish chasing each other through and around the corals. With every turn, a new wonder appeared – a sea turtle here, a giant clam on the sand below, a spotted cod, a giant batfish, a school of neon fish – we were up close and personal with marine life!
Having had our fill of snorkeling for the day, we made our way back towards Heron Island, stopping along the way at a lovely sandy cay, one of the many which run along the surface of the waters here. On our own private little isle, we enjoyed our picnic. After a day packed with adventure, we headed back to our lush paradise.
The Great Barrier Reef holds an irresistible draw for snorkelers, scuba divers and just anyone curious about the wonders of marine life. There is no end to what this marine park holds in store!