Many visitors to Queensland are less concerned with how far they can get above sea level, and more concerned with how far they can get below it. For them, the Great Barrier Reef, with its warm waters and hundreds of fish species, is the main draw to the region. The Reef is considered one of the best places in the world for SCUBA diving and snorkeling, with both beginner and experienced divers finding something to enjoy.
The Reef stretches for 1,600 miles up and down Australia’s east coast, but access is granted mainly through two locations; Cairns in the north and the Whitsundays to the south. In both locations, it is easy to hire a boat and spend as little as an afternoon or as much as a few days out on the water.
Other aquatic adventures abound off Queensland’s coast, with the Whitsunday Islands being the epicenter of that activity. Cruises to those beautiful islands can also be of a variety of lengths, but I’d recommend a sailing adventure of 3 to 4 days to get a real taste of what the islands are all about. In that time, you’re likely to have the opportunity to snorkel or dive in multiple locations, take a bushwalk across one of the islands, and spend a relaxing day on one of the amazing beaches that are common in the area. Nights are spent aboard ship, usually at anchor in a quiet lagoon with a crystal clear sky, packed with stars, overhead. One word of warning however: the experience aboard the ships can vary greatly with some offering a quieter, more intimate experience and others having a party atmosphere. Be sure to ask ahead of time before you book to ensure you’re getting the cruise that best suits your needs.
For adventure travelers, Australia is the perfect destination. The country has plenty to offer in the way of outdoor activities and stunning scenery, but it matches all of that with friendly people and a great infrastructure that makes independent travel easy and affordable. In fact, there are a plethora of cheap hostels to stay in, and rental vehicles, including camper vans, are easy to find and inexpensive as well.
So, pack a sleeping bag, a backpack full of clothes and supplies, and don’t forget your adventurous spirit. A trip through Queensland requires all of that and more, but it’s worth the effort and you’ll be rewarded with a journey that is both challenging and easy, but will stick with you long after you’ve gone home.
* Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.