So you think you have done it all? Here are 15 new things to do at the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a coral wonderland that stretches more than 344,400km. Get in that pure, clear water and see the reef for yourself. Despite the reef bleaching, reports there will always be a bommie site, a coral cay or a green zone offering access to stunning corals and abundant marine life. Be inspired by the beauty and do your part to take care of it.
15 new things to do at the Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s greatest natural icon, the Great Barrier Reef, is an extraordinary place as these 15 new things to do at the Great Barrier Reef will prove to any visitor. This wondrous biosphere stretches 2300 km down the Queensland coast and covers more than 344,400km.
The Great Barrier Reef has a long list of high-standard operators who are passionate about encouraging travellers to visit their patch of ocean. They want you to be inspired by its beauty and walk away with knowledge on how to protect it. They are the same operators who also contribute effort, time and funds toward environmental initiatives. Here are 15 new things to do at the Great Barrier Reef in 2022, including programs that take you from inspiration to action.
Museum of Underwater Art Expands
Eight of the fiercest protectors of the Great Barrier Reef, including Australia’s pre-eminent marine scientists, are the muses for new sculptures to be submerged off the coast of Townsville in June 2022 in the second phase of the Museum of Underwater Art. Meticulously chiselled by Jason de Claires, the half-human, half-coral statues will be installed in the shallow waters around Magnetic Island and John Brewer Reef. They will be assessable to snorkellers.
They have been modelled on the ‘Godfather of Coral’, Professor ‘Charlie’ Veron, Magnetic Island resident and clam expert, Dr Richard Braley, coral spawning expert, Professor Peter Harrison, and leading AIMS researcher, Dr Katharina Fabricius. Meanwhile, Molly Steer, the Cairns girl who established ‘Straw No More’ and Jayme Marshall, a proud Indigenous girl who shares the cultural link to Sea Country, are among four others also immortalised. Before their installation, the statues are available for viewing at the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
Reef Magic Pontoon, Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
The team behind the popular Dreamtime Dive and Snorkel launched a new Reef Magic Pontoon on Moore Reef, 45km off the coast of Cairns, in April 2022. Owned by Australian adventure and leisure tourism company Experience Co, the pontoon immerses passengers in the wonders of the reef across two daily departures.
The platform is totally self-sufficient. It uses wind and solar power and features a floor-to-ceiling underwater observatory. Conservation plays a key role with liveaboard accommodation and a purpose-built onboard laboratory to facilitate scientific research. Sea Country guides will treat guests to indigenous storytelling, culture and performance.
Keppel Dive & Snorkel Launches Reef Ranger Tour
Snap on a mask for a fin-tastic new way to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef. Keppel Dive & Snorkel has added a two-hour Reef Ranger Tour (launched in February 2022) that allows up to six guests to enjoy snorkelling while learning more about the local reefs and history of Keppel islands. Master Reef Guides and Eye on the Reef trained staff use the tour to survey reef locations and monitor reef health. Sightings from the tours are submitted to weekly survey reports for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as part of the Eye on the Reef network.
SeaLink Big Island Day Tour, Whitsundays
Departing from Shute Harbour, the new SeaLink Big Island Day Tour motors around the breathtaking islands of the Whitsundays. It skirts past Molle Island and Hook Island and offers a 360-degree observation deck atop the vessel. Stop at Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach with fully guided tours of two stunning lookouts. A gourmet lunch, morning and afternoon tea, plus bus transfers to and from Shute Harbour are also included.
Wildcat Mackay, Mackay
Red Cat Adventures has made the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and islands off Mackay even more accessible with the introduction of the Wildcat catamaran. The custom-built high-speed vessel visits untouched parts of the Reef like Cockermouth, Brampton, Keswick, St Bees and Scawfell islands, plus some secret gems. The all-inclusive tour affords guests plenty of time in the water, snorkelling and visiting secluded island beaches not often accessed by tourists.
Just one of the new things to do on the Great Barrier Reef in 2022.
Lady Musgrave HQ, Bundaberg
Spend a night 100km out to sea, under the stars and onboard the new Lady Musgrave HQ. Floating in the turquoise waters of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave HQ is the Reef’s second underwater pontoon-style accommodation. This new product has two major drawcards. The eight reef-view queen size canopy beds come with canvas walls that roll up to reveal sprawling views of the Lady Musgrave Island lagoon. At the same time, the underwater observatory bunks cater for dive groups keen to explore remote and untouched sites only accessible from the pontoon. Lady Musgrave HQ treads lightly with a zero-carbon footprint thanks to being 100 per cent wind and solar-powered. The Master Reef Guides on board also deliver vital educational and citizen science initiatives.
Whitsunday School of Sailing, Whitsundays
The Whitsunday Islands are considered one of the safest sailing grounds in the world. They are the ideal backdrop for both rookie sailors and those wanting to expand their experience before taking to more open waters. The Sunsail Whitsunday School of Sailing (operated via Whitsunday Rent a Yacht at Shute Harbour) offers three Royal Yachting Association courses with internationally recognised certification: Level 1 – Competent Crew. Level 2 – Day Skipper. Level 3 – Coastal Skipper. The course runs over five days, and students live onboard a Jeanneau 44 with five others and an instructor. All catering and logistics are incorporated in the costs. The courses run from Monday to Friday, with an option to sleep aboard on the Sunday night before or the Friday after.
No Limit Adventures Marine Conservation Program, Cairns and Great Barrier Reef
The multi-day small group No Limit Adventures Marine Conservation Program combines the adventure of learning to scuba dive with volunteering. The group undertakes conservation tasks such as underwater Rapid Monitoring Surveys that determine the health and resilience of the reef, plus support at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. The conservation program is led by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. It includes nine nights dorm accommodation, three meals a day, three day/two-night liveaboard program, two-day trips to Fitzroy Island turtle rehabilitation and 13 dives on the Great Barrier Reef (weather pending).
Scuba Diver at Coral Nurseries Dive Site. IMAGE: Tourism and Events Queensland
Passions of Paradise citizen science tour, Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Experienced certified divers can join conservationists assessing reef health on the Great Barrier Reef with a new tour launched in Cairns by Passions of Paradise. The locally owned Passions of Paradise’s research team stepped up their reef nurturing and monitoring programs during the COVID-19 pandemic while passenger numbers were low. Passions of Paradise is one of five operators based in Cairns and Port Douglas participating in the Coral Nurture Program with staff working alongside University of Technology Sydney researchers.
Go Fish – Fishing, Pearls & Helicopters, Cairns & Great Barrier Reef/Torres Strait
GoFish has hooked into a new style of fishing in the wild north. Take a helicopter from Horn Island (or Bamaga) and fly over the spectacular blue waters of the Torres Strait, land at Roko Island and be met by the Island’s unofficial “mayor”. Roko Island is a part of 274 islands that forms the Torres Strait and is one of the few islands of the Torres Strait open to visitors. It is located about 750 km north of Cairns. Roko Island was originally known as a pearl farm but now runs pearl tours, fishing charters and overnight stays. Board a private vessel to fish for coral trout, red emperor, sweetlip, tropical snapper or the trophy fish, the Spanish mackerel. Overnight glamping options are available.
YOTSPACE, Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Get a taste of how the other half live on a YOTSPACE superyacht voyage with a cabin on a six-night snorkel adventure on the Great Barrier Reef to Lizard Island. Phoenix One offers five-star cuisine, beverages and a range of water toys, including a sea scooter and water skis for some fun before winding down in the upper deck jacuzzi.
SeaLink Big Island Day Tour, Whitsundays (launched Nov 2021). Departing Shute Harbour, the new SeaLink Big Island Day Tour cruises between the islands of the Whitsundays, taking in the sights of Molle Island and Hook Island, among many others, from a 360-degree observation deck atop the vessel. Stop in at Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach with fully guided tours of two stunning lookouts. Gourmet lunch, morning and afternoon tea, plus bus transfers to and from Shute Harbour are also included.
Cairns River Cruises new guided tours and charters, Cairns & Great Barrier Reef
Cairns River Cruises have launched guided tours and charters along Trinity Inlet on a new sheltered pontoon-style vessel catering for up to 18 guests. Departing the Marlin Marina, Cairns, head out on a daytime sightseeing safari or sunset cruise with lounge-style seating and uninterrupted views across the water.
Tasman Venture Launches a Private Island Escape Package
Set sail for the Southern Great Barrier Reef with Tasman Venture, a Hervey Bay-based sailing operator popular for whale watching day tours. In 2021, the operator launched a three-day, two-night private charter package for up to twelve passengers. You’ll sail across the calm waters of Hervey Bay, up the west coast of Fraser Island and across the Pacific Ocean, only to wake up the following morning at Lady Elliot Island. Once at this tiny Great Barrier Reef wonderland, guests can dive, swim with mantra rays and turtles, enjoy guided nature walks and watch nesting turtles.
Reopening of Reef HQ Aquarium
Coming in 2023, experience the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. As the National Reef Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Reef HQ Aquarium will relaunch following a two year revamp to offer impressive exhibits showcasing rare and extraordinary features of the Great Barrier Reef.
More ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef
Are 15 new things to do on the Great Barrier Reef in 2022 enough, or do you want more? Here are some other ways to enjoy this amazing Queensland region.