The Great Barrier Reef – natures natural wonder and the world’s largest reef ecosystem.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system on earth. It is listed as a World Heritage Area by the World Heritage Committee and deemed one of the world’s most unique and precious places of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity. Its 2,010 kilometres (1,250 miles) of coral reef is located off the north-eastern coast of Queensland in the Coral Sea. The Great Barrier Reef is so vast it makes up 13% of the world’s reef systems and can even be seen from outer space!
From microscopic algae to great white sharks measuring 6 meters in length (20 feet), the reef is home to the largest variety of plant and marine life on earth. For this reason the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which includes the Reef and much of the surrounding waters, is the largest protected marine area in the world.
The Great Barrier Reef was formed when corals began to build upon the limestone hills and mountains that were once part of the Australian coastline, until the end of the last ice age when the water levels rose and they were submerged underwater more than 500,000 years ago. Corals are fragile, slow growing, long-lived marine creatures (some are more than 700 years old) that require sunlight to grow, which is why they are located in relatively shallow waters. More than 350 species of coral compose the nearly 3,000 individual reefs and approximately 300 coral islands, making the Reef the largest structure in the world built by living organisms.
The Reef brings more than 1.6 million visitors from around the world each year with the nearby city of ‘Cairns’ – aka ‘The Gateway to The Great Barrier Reef’ – being one of the principal centers for Reef tourism. Tours include scuba-diving, snorkeling, boating and fishing among other activities in and around brilliant, colorful coral gardens, which can be witnessed from both above and below the sea’s surface.
The Great Barrier Reef is considered one of the great natural wonders of the world
The Great Barrier Reef is recognized as one of the seven natural wonders of the World – when planning your stay book real reef accommodation, stay on the Great Barrier Reef not near it – Reef Encounter offers the very best Great Barrier Reef accommodation
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is one of the World’s Greatest treasures and is protected for the future
The Great Barrier Reef Marine park is recognised as one of the best managed marine protected areas in the World
33 percent of the Great Barrier Reef marine park does not allow fishing or collecting – we notice a real difference to the amount of marine life on our protected reef locations
Nothing will prepare you for the beauty of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef