How to plan a Great Barrier Reef holiday

Australia’s prized and protected Great Barrier Reef is the number one draw for visitors to Australia. With opportunities to stay on tropical islands, snorkel and swim with dolphins, manta rays and turtles - it's easy to see why it's so popular!

How and when to visit

Explore in complete comfort with a luxury campervan
Most people tend to arrive in Cairns, the nearest international airport. Another option is to fly to Brisbane and drive up with a car or campervan. Most of the island resorts involve short flight transfers which are included in the cost of your stay. See budget, family and luxury campervans

The best time to visit the Great barrier reef is in ‘dry season’, from May to October as less rainfall means clearer waters and better dive conditions. April & May also see fewer visitors so they are a good time to avoid crowds.

  • Discover the spectacular marine life of the Great Barrier Reef
    A once-in-a-lifetime experience - dive or snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef holidays combined with more of Australia

We tailor-make every holiday to suit your style and budget, so any trip is possible. Here are a few ideas, all of which are fully customisable to you - call us on +44 1273 224522 or request a quote by email.


Embark on a 3 Day 2 Night sailing adventure through the famous Whitsunday IslandsRock, reef and rainforest luxury Australia holiday

For this luxurious 20 day holiday, begin with 3 nights at Silky Oaks eco lodge and spa in the Daintree rainforest, tropical north Queensland. The trip includes 3 nights in the One&Only Hayman Island, a luxury property in the Whitsunday Islands on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as luxury stays in Sydney and at Longitude 131 at Uluru. (Also includes all international and domestic flights, accommodation and transfers)
See our Rock, reef and rainforest luxury Australia holiday

Heron Island  - your own piece of paradise!
East coast campervan holiday with Heron Island

Combining two of the greatest things about Australia, self-driving and island stays, this is a perfect 18 day holiday. With your campervan, you can explore the East Coast from Sydney to Brisbane at your own pace before enjoying 4 nights on Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. White sands, crystal clear water and corals make this a true island paradise! (Also includes all international and domestic flights, accommodation and transfers)
See our East Coast Australia campervan holiday with Heron Island


Drive along the sandy highway on Seventy-Five Mile Beach
Family Big 3: 15 Days city, beach & wildlife

This relaxed, 2-week family holiday combines city breaks in Melbourne and Sydney with beach time on the Gold Coast. Kids will love learning about native koalas first-hand in Melbourne before heading to Fraser Island (the world's largest sand island) on the southern tip of the Great Barrier reef; home to spectacular lakes, dunes and wildlife. (Also includes all international and domestic flights, accommodation and transfers)
See our Family Big 3: 15 days city, beach and wildlife


Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia
City, outback, wilderness & reef 

This 16 day, 3-centre holiday includes 3 nights in Sydney before heading to the Red Centre to discover the heart of Australia spectacular Uluru. From here, explore the 'Top End' of Australia from Darwin before taking time to relax in with a 5 night beach stay in Port Douglas, from where you can visit the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.(Also includes all international and domestic flights, accommodation and transfers)
See our City, outback, wilderness and reef holiday


Explore independently and on a budget with a bus pass

If you're travelling on a budget but long for independence and flexibility, we've teamed a Greyhound bus pass with some affordable hostel accommodation to give you freedom to stay where you like, when you like:

Backpack the east coast

Fraser Island, Queensland, AustraliaThis 26-day, budget-friendly itinerary gives you a month to travel the east coast from Sydney to Cairns with a Greyhound bus pass. We’ve included 2 nights on Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island. Then you’ll head to Airlie Beach for a 2 night sailing adventure in the Whitsunday Islands, before finishing in Cairns for a few days, with an included catamaran day trip to explore the reef. (Exc international flights – ask for a quote or see multi-stop flight ideas here).
Backpack the east coast: 26 days from Sydney to Cairns


Small group tours that all include the Great Barrier Reef

Whether you’re travelling solo or with a friend, a small group tour is a sociable, great value way to explore Australia’s east coast. With all local transport, accommodation and some meals included, you just need to budget for flights:

Brisbane to Cairns Experience

Brisbane to Cairns Experience (small group tour)
Beginning in Brisbane, on this 10 day trip you'll visit Fraser Island, the Noosa Everglades and then on to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands for a little yachting adventure from island to island. Finally, you'll end up in Cairns with a free day to get out and explore the Great Barrier Reef. (All local transport, accommodation and some meals included - exc international flights)
See our Brisbane to Cairns experience


East Coast encompassed

Australia's East Coast encompassed - group tour
Rugged landscapes, crashing surf, and indigenous culture – this 18 day trip offers comprehensive, affordable raw thrills and refined pleasures aplenty. In the space of a few days, you’ll sample wines in the Hunter Valley, snorkel the Whitsundays, and catch a few waves. (All local transport, accommodation and some meals included - exc international flights)
See our East Coast encompassed trip

Queensland: Sand, sailing and dream time

Queensland: Sand, sailing, dreamtime group tour
Beginning in Brisbane and ending in Cairns with plenty of time in the Whitsundays, this 12-day adventure is great for sailing buffs. Explore Fraser Island in a 4x4, sleep in yachts, lodges, hostels and an exclusive riverside camp; enjoy canoeing, hiking and waterfall dips and plenty of Aboriginal history along the way - a great value eat coast trip! (All local transport, accommodation and some meals included - exc international flights)
See our Queensland: sand, sailing and dreamtime trip


Great Barrier Reef hotels and island resorts

We can recommend and book accommodation for you throughout Australia - see our favourite tropical island resorts from just £140 a night inc Heron Island, Hamilton Island, Orpheus island and Lizard Island


Want to see the Great Barrier Reef for yourself?

We can help you plan a fantastic itinerary that suits your style and budget precisely. Contact our Australia experts on +44 1273 224522 or request a quote by email, or see all of our tailor-made Australia holiday ideas.

Contact one of our Australia specialists:

 Helen Ecclestone