Posted by on 2 October 2018 | Comments

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The obvious activities that come into mind for a trip to the reef are snorkelling and scuba diving. But not everyone wants to swim, and tourism operators know that. Here’s a selection of activities that will let you experience the reef without putting your fins on or even getting wet.

1. Fly Over the Reef

Although you won’t even get close to getting your feet wet with this activity, you will get a chance to experience one of the most breathtaking perspectives of The Great Barrier Reef. And the views are not the only exciting part of the experience as you will get the chance to fly in a seaplane or a helicopter.

As flying can increase your holiday carbon footprint, we suggest choosing an operator who considers their environmental impacts, like Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action Business Certified Air Whitsunday, or Advanced Ecotourism Certified Nautilus Aviation and consider offsetting the carbon emissions from your flight.

Air Whitsunday Seaplane Tours81

Photo: Air Whitsunday

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Photo: Nautilus Aviation (Ecotourism Australia certified operator – Advanced Ecotourism)

2. Glass-Bottom Boat Tours

Cruising on the reef will give you the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful colours of the lagoons and spot a few marine animals that pop up to the surface from time to time. And if you hop on a glass-bottom boat tour, you will be able to watch the reef live from your dry seat!

Many operators in the most famous reefs in Australia offer a glass-bottom boat experience. Great facts and information about the fascinating eco-system underwater will enhance your experience. Look for Ecotourism Australia certified operators in the Green Travel Guide.

coral expeditions reef Glass Bottom Boat

Photo: Coral Expeditions (Ecotourism Australia certified operator – Ecotourism)

3. Underwater Observatories

If you like the idea of being underwater but want to stay dry and safe, then you will find underwater observatories and semi-submarine experiences perfect. You are immersed in the aquatic world behind windows, so you can comfortably enjoy the live actions around the reef.

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Photo: Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises (Ecotourism Australia certified operator - Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action)

4. Touch Tanks

When you snorkel or dive, the rule is not to touch marine life. But you can get a chance to interact and touch selected aquatic animals at the surface in a touch tank. It is essential to do this activity only with experienced operators that ensure it is organised in an educational way and not harmful to the reef critters. Look for the Ecotourism Australia logo when you are ready to book: our certified operators follow strict guidelines regarding animal interactions and manipulation.

touch tank sunlover reef cruises

Photo: Sunlover Reef Cruises (Ecotourism Australia certified operator - Ecotourism and Green Travel Leader)

5. Kayaking

Kayaking will take you to more remote places than most cruises. You will experience a special connection with the surrounding nature as you paddle on top of the coral reefs. It’s the best active activity on the reef if you want to stay out of the water. If you’re lucky and quiet, you may even have the chance to encounter marine life from very close.

Sea Kayaking Whitsundays Image by Andrea Francolini Photography

Photo: Sea Kayaking Whitsundays / Andrea Francolini Photography (Advanced Ecotourism Certified)

6. Beach and Reef Walking

Walking on the beach near a lagoon offers fantastic views. Sometimes, you can even spot marine animals that come close to the shore. Some lucky places also get visitors outside the water, such as turtles who walk up the beach to lay eggs every year.

And if the lagoon looks beautiful from the beach, it’s even more fascinating when it’s literally at your feet. In some areas, you can walk around the reef at low tide. It’s important to walk only on the sandy areas not to damage the corals. Guided reef walks will enhance your experience as you will see things you wouldn’t spot without an expert and learn more about the corals you’re looking at.

Turtle heron island

Photo: Heron Island Resort (Ecotourism Australia certified operator – Ecotourism)

7. Sailing

Not only does sailing have minimal impact, but it also provides one of the most natural experiences as you must adapt your trip to the conditions nature gives you that day. As you sail from one reef to another, you will get a chance to spot marine animals who are often curious about your quiet vessel. Overnight sailing trips give the stunning opportunity to sleep on the reef and see it during the magic hours.

Sail Ningaloo

Photo: Sail Ningaloo (Ecotourism Australia certified operator - Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action)

8. Walk Underwater

If you are keen to go underwater and get a bit wet, but you don’t want to swim, you may be interested in putting on a helmet and go for a walk underwater. The equipment lets you breathe air as you do on land and you can just walk from a platform to see the reef. It is a lot easier than scuba diving and snorkelling.

Seawalker pic

Photo: Seawalker Green Island (Ecotourism Australia certified operator - Advanced Ecotourism and Climate Action)

9. The Cultural Perspective

You could also combine your nature experience with a cultural experience. Traditional Land Owners have strong links with the reef and its ecosystems. Learning more from their tales and lifestyle will give you a special connection with the nature around you.   

Hervey Bay Ecomarine Tours

Photo: Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours (Ecotourism Australia certified operator - Advanced Ecotourism and ROC)

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