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The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park includes the mainland coast surrounding Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands and the outer reef. The species of coral and fish that thrive here, can be found on all the inner reefs that surround the islands, known as ‘fringing reefs’ and the outer reef.

The inner reefs are located in the lagoon section of water between the outer reef and the shore. The Whitsunday Islands lie in this region, mid way between the shore and the outer reef.

Coral grows towards sunlight and cannot grow above the low tide water mark, for that reason the outer reefs and the inner reefs surrounding the islands are covered with water most of the time and exposed or awash only at a very low tide.

The Whitsunday Islands are perfectly located at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

Facts About the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is not one structure, but a maze of individual reefs stretching over 2000 nautical miles off the east coast of Australia.

The reef consists of the outer reef which is effectively the barrier to ocean swells and the inner reefs that surround the Whitsunday Islands.

Facts about the Great Barrier Reef

Boating on the Great Barrier Reef

Whitsunday Escape provide charts and guides and a full area and boat brief about where to anchor each night.

When anchoring, it is important that your boat has protection from waves and winds and there are many anchorages that provide all weather protection.

Whitsunday Escape boats are restricted to visiting the anchorages that surround the Whitsunday Islands and coast.

Boating on the Great Barrier Reef Sailing on the Great Barrier Reef

Snorkelling & Diving on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is home to a vast range of marine animals, including whales, turtles, giant clams and clownfish.

With warm water all year round there are underwater experiences for the qualified scuba diver and the first time snorkeller.

Whitsunday Escape provides snorkelling gear free of charge while scuba gear can be rented from the dive shop below our office.

Our Favourite Snorkelling Spots Our Favourite Scuba Diving Sites

More on Snorkelling & Diving

Marine Wildlife on the Great Barrier Reef

Around 30 species of whale and dolphin are found in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waters.

Humpback Whales and Dwarf Minke Whales visit the warm Whitsunday waters every winter, from June to September to calve and breed.

Go to Whales & Dolphins

Six of the world’s seven turtle species visit the Whitsundays to feed, breed and lay eggs.

The islands and surrounding reefs provide valuable habitat for marine turtles.

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Once a year all the coral species spawn en masse on the same night.

The spawning is a phenomenon that happens annually between October and January.

Go to Coral Spawning

Whitsunday Escape Clam