Green Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
(North Queensland, Australia)
I am a north Queensland local and if you asked me where is the best place to visit the Great Barrier Reef, my answer would always be the Whitsundays.
There is simply nothing to top the Whitehaven Beach and the famous Heart Reef that is on so many photos.
But if you are visiting Cairns, and haven't got the time to go down to Airlie, there is one good thing - the reef is closer to the mainland the further north, and the trips are therefore better value. On top of that, the reef is known to be healthier up here.
If all you got is a day for the reef and you are in Cairns, my recommendation is, go for Green Island.
While the nearby Fitzroy Island is a larger, hillier island covered in tropical rainforest (and yes it does have snorkeling opportunities), Green Island is a real coral cay and gives you a more real reef experience.
It's great - the snorkelling, the restaurant, the watersports, the little bit of rainforest, the island's captive crocodile, the fact that you can walk around the whole island in half an hour, and of course the boat cruise itself from Cairns with the most beautiful views over Coral Sea and the opportunities to see dugongs, dolphins and large sea turtles. We had the most romantic day that I will remember for a long time!
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