Sail to the Great Barrier Reef | Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

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About the Great Barrier Reef

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the outer Great Barrier Reef is 50 kilometres from the Whitsunday Islands. It's a mecca for scuba divers, snorkellers and holiday-makers from all over the world.

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 kilometres 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 2020

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; coral that lies close to the shore.

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.

While sailing the Whitsundays, you can experience the outer Great Barrier Reef on a seaplane flight. We can arrange to have an Air Whitsunday plane pick you up off the back of your boat and take you out to see the famous “heart of the reef” coral formation from the air. You will then be taken down to a private pontoon at Hardy Reef where you can enjoy coral viewing from a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling. You could also arrange to join one of the day reef tours departing from Hamilton Island.

yachts on the reef

Sailing to the Great Barrier Reef

There are many day tours operating from Airlie Beach which can take visitors to the outer Great Barrier Reef. If you are unable to see the reef from a bareboat charter, we suggest getting in touch with:


Heart of the reef

Aerial view over coral reefs and aqua waters of the Great Barrier Reef

The Whitsunday Islands are the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.