If you're planning on a trip to Cairns, a visit to the world-famous Great Barrier Reef should feature high on your list of priorities. Made up of over 3,000 small reefs which merge to create one big one, and punctuated by 900 islands along its tremendous length, this giant mosaic lays claim to the title of the largest living organism on Earth. Home to countless forms of aquatic life, as well as a number of land-dwellers and several species of bird, the Great Barrier Reef deserves its place among the world's greatest natural wonders. By hiring a vehicle from East Coast Car Rentals, you'll be able to choose from any one of the many bases in the Cairns area to tour and explore this fascinating phenomenon.
The reef is alive, literally, with a kaleidoscope of colours, and swimming with the menagerie of exotic fish and collection of rare plant life is a bewildering experience to be savoured. There are several dive companies operating along the reef, such as Cairns Dive School, which offers privately guided tours of the reef and caters to all skill levels – from eager young swimmers to old-salt veterans. This is perfect for families wishing to explore the reef together. For those landlubbers that don't wish to get their toes wet, Sunlover Reef Cruises provide an air-conditioned catamaran, a glass-bottomed boat, a semi-submersible coral reef viewing tour, an underwater observatory and a marine life touch tour. You'll be feeling hungry after this journey of discovery, so dive in to the seafood buffet lunch. You can still take a dip if you change your mind – never fear!
Up, up and away
Once you've seen the Great Barrier Reef from ocean level, why not take in the view from the clouds above? Soar skywards in that most early and ambitious means of human aviation – the hot air balloon. With Scenic Flight Ballooning, you'll get to gaze upon North Queensland from your basket. Don't look down – in fact, do. You won't be disappointed.
Wetter is better
Take a break from the serenity of the Great Barrier Reef by tackling the rushing rapids that come as standard when white-water rafting. Afternoon Barron River Raft Adventure are the go-to guys for the first-time rafters – their guides are highly trained professionals with gallons of experience, and they will be there to help you every splash of the way. You'll learn paddling techniques, how to stay afloat if you fall out of your craft, and everything you need to know to ensure a rip-roaring time in the water.