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.

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