The Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on Earth – so large it can even be seen from space.

Spanning 2,300 kilometers along the Queensland coastline, from Cape York in the north to Bundaberg in the south, the Reef is not only an Australian treasure but a natural wonder belonging to the world.

This fragile ecosystem boasts more than 1,500 species of fish, 360 types of hard coral plus more than a third of the world’s soft coral. It’s home to endangered species including dolphins, turtles and dugongs.

Unlike some of the press you may have heard concerning the Great Barrier Reef, the reefs surrounding the Whitsundays are in great health. You can learn more about the state of the reef in this post: The best thing you can do for the Reef in 2023.

green turtle

Experiencing fringing reefs on your Bareboat Charter

The waters around the Whitsunday Islands are incredibly calm making them the perfect sailing ground. This is all thanks to the Great Barrier Reef which acts as a barrier for large ocean swells.

The 74 Whitsunday islands benefit from being one to two hours by boat from the outer Great Barrier Reef. When you sail around the Whitsundays, you will be able to experience the Great Barrier Reef’s fringing reefs. The term fringing reef refers to reef that grows directly from the shoreline.

The fringing coral reefs scattered amongst the islands are home to many spectacular marine species as well as hard and soft corals. The Whitsundays have a diverse range of snorkelling and dive sites that bareboat visitors can experience at their own pace.

How you can see the Outer Great Barrier Reef from your charter

The outer Great Barrier Reef is not a part of the approved cruising zone when you charter a yacht with any bareboat company in the Whitsundays. This means you can’t take your rented yacht out to see the famous natural structure, however, you’re still able to include a visit to the Reef on your itinerary.

The best way to see the Outer Reef while on a bareboat charter is to arrange a tour from Hamilton Island.

Heart of the reef

Sailing to the Great Barrier Reef from Airlie Beach

There are many day tours operating from Airlie Beach which can take visitors to the outer Great Barrier Reef. We suggest getting in touch with

Protecting the Reef and Traveling Sustainably

The Reef is a fragile eco-system which needs to be preserved for future generations. There are some simple steps you can follow to travel in a more eco-friendly way particularly while bareboating. And for those at home, check out our tips on things you can do to help save the reef. 


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Whitsunday Rent a Yacht acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and in particular the Traditional Owners of the Whitsunday's Region, the Gia, Juru and Ngaro People; We recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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