Colourful coral reefs with hundreds of little fish can be found in many places around the Whitsunday Islands. Get to know the great flora and fauna of the blue element. Indulge in the glowing colours of the corals, swim in a school of damselfish or hunt a wrasse. We won’t cut you short on this experience. Snorkel for as long as you like, we stop at least 2 times for snorkelling during a regular tour.
While the coral reefs of the Whitsundays are technically not part of the Great Barrier Reef (some call it Outer Reef in Australia) they are biologically the same and are under the protection of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authorities.
Adding to this is the fact that the outer reef is just a few kilometres away, which means you find the same coral and fish species here. The term fringing reef refers to the creation history. Fringing reef grows around an island.
Platform reef (e.g. Great Barrier Reef) grows on top of a submerged mountain range. While all the tropical reefs around the world are biologically similar, there are regional differences. You will often find the same species, however colours, size and numbers can be different. The red sea, for example, has lots of red coloured corals and fish, where’s the Great Barrier and Whitsunday Reef is more varied in colour (blue, purple, orange, etc.).
There’s a large variety of colourful reef in the Whitsundays; Pillarcoral, Platecoral, Braincoral, Cabbagecoral, Staghorncoral, Boulders, soft coral Anemones and many more. Even more fish species are swimming around the corals: Damsels, Fussiliers, Butterflyfish, Rabbitfish, Flutefish, Parrotfish, Angelfish, Wrasses, Trouts, Cods, Groupers and more. Some are just cruising around, some chew on coral or suck on it, some are territorial (to other fish), some dig in the sand. It’s a colourful little world to watch.
But the Whitsundays further offer the chance to encounter one of the world’s rare marine mammals while snorkelling: Big green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles can be commonly found in the Whitsunday Waters. We even see them more commonly from the boat. Other mammals we see sometimes from the boat are dolphins and humpback whales (between June and September only).
While you will come across some warning signs about jellyfish on the mainland, there are hardly ever box jellyfish around the Whitsunday Islands. You will see jellyfish, there are hundreds of jellyfish species and only very few are poisonous. Jellyfish are natural inhabitants of the coral reef. Irukandji jellyfish (often called stingers ) can be present around the islands all year. They are more prevalent from October to May (official season). All year round you will be issued with comfortable lycra suits (or wet suits in winter months) for water activities. These suits help prevent against sunburn and stings. It is like wearing a seatbelt in a car.