Cairns’ major draw is the Great Barrier Reef and with so many cruise or dive options available, choosing one can be daunting. There’s often a lot of chat about the inner reef (closer to the coast, and visited by slower boats), the outer reef (closest to the open sea and the target of most speedy operators) and fringing reef (surrounding Fitzroy and Green islands), but the coral and fishlife at any of them can be either excellent or tragic. The state of Cairns’ coral is the subject of much debate: years of agricultural run-off and recent coral-bleaching events – not to mention the sheer number of visitors – have had a visibly detrimental effect in the most visited areas, though remoter sections tend to be in better condition. Having said that, almost everywhere teems with marine life, ranging from tiny gobies to squid, turtles and big pelagic fish – only seasoned divers might come away disappointed.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Australia is a vast country, though most visitors stay on the same tried and tested track, ticking off well-touristed pitstops along the way. But, of course, …

07 Aug 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

27 Apr 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
12 tips for backpacking Australia

12 tips for backpacking Australia

Backpacking Australia will almost certainly exceed your expectations. It’s not just that the places you’ll see will be more stunning than you had imagine…

09 Mar 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month