Best Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling - An Amazing Adventure

Saying the Great Barrier Reef is a great snorkeling destination is a huge understatement. The local environment and marine life is truly astonishing, and considering it is the world's largest reef system home to an incredible amount of species, it's definitely a bucket list item.

It's thought that the Great, it's composed of over 2,900 individual reef stretching over 2,600 km (or about 1615 miles). It can be seen from space!

As we mentioned, The Great Barrier Reef is home to a variety of marine life, and we mean VARIETY. With more than 1,500 species of fish, over 6 species of sea turtles, 30 species of whale, dolphin, and porpoises, and much, much, more, there's tons to explore! Even above water there is lots to see with over 215 species of birds visiting the area.

Okay, so the Great Barrier Reef is impressive, but what about the snorkeling? After all, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is probably one of the best ways to legitimately immerse yourself in this amazing ecosystem, allowing you to explore and experience. Below we will describe some of the best snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef , where you can rent snorkeling gear, and more information about Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tours.

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tours

Unlike many other smaller snorkeling destinations, you can't really just make your own way to the reef and jump in. Given the Great Barrier Reef is very well protected, you will often have to go through a third party, whether it be a platform in the water that can rent the gear and provide instruction, or full on tours of different snorkeling areas. In any case, with an environment as unique and rich as the Great Barrier Reef, it's beneficial to have someone experienced guide you, provide insider tips, and provide their insight into the equipment and instruction that is most appropriate for you.

Therefore, below we offer some of our picks for the best snorkeling tours in the Great Barrier Reef . We have tried to overview some of the different types of options, simply so you can see what's available and pick what you think may be best for your snorkeling trip.


Destination: Outer Barrier Reef (Norman Reef)

Time: 10:30am-5:30pm

Modern, comfortable, air-conditioned catamaran

Outer reef pontoon with buffet lunch, full bar, sundeck, change rooms, showers, and a semi-submerged platform.

Includes snorkel equipment and reef education presentations

3 hours at outer reef activity platform activity platform

Total cost: $224/adult, $116/child, or $546/family


Email: [email protected]

Phone +61 7 4044 9944


Quicksilver Cruises - Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour

Destination: Outer Reef (Agincourt Reef)

Introductory and advanced snorkel tours available

Intro: 30-40 mins, $58/adult, $30/child

Advanced: 45-60+ mins, $76/adult, $46/child

All snorkel tours include equipment and instruction from marine biologists


Email: [email protected]

Phone: (61) 7 4087 2100


Tusa 6 Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour

Destination: 2 outer reef sites selected from a possible 16 outer reef sites. Selection is made by the Captain and depends on current conditions.

Time: 7am-4:30pm

Includes snorkel equipment, tea, buffet lunch, guided snorkel tour

Total Cost: $200/adult and $125/child

Certified scuba divers have the option of up to 3 dives. Snorkeling is unlimited.


Email: [email protected] 

Phone: +61 7 4041 7536


Reef Magic - Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour

Check-In: Reef Magic desk at Reef Fleet Terminal

Destination: Outer Reef (Marine World - eastern end of Moore Reef)

Time: 8:30am-5:15pm with a full 5 hours at the reef

Cost: $199 per person for snorkeling

Includes snorkeling equipment, instruction, fish feeds, presentations, lunch, morning and afternoon tea, etc.

Scuba diving costs a little bit extra


Email: [email protected]

Phone: +61 7 4041 7536


Seastar - Great Barrier Reef / Michaelmas Cay Cruise

Destination: Michaelmas Cay - A unique sand ca on the Western tip of the Michaelmas Reef.

Time: ~ 8am-5pm with over 5 hours at the reef/cay itself

Includes snorkel equipment, instruction, guided tour, wetsuits, lunch, and more.

Total Cost: $195/adult, $130/child, extra fees for scuba diving


Email: i[email protected]

Phone: +61 7 4041 6218

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef - What Can You Expect to See?


It probably doesn't come as a shock that you can see lots of coral at the world's largest coral reef system. Lots of people tend to view coral as objects or plants, but they are actually animals, which make them super interesting to explore. Corals are generally identified by their shape, but don't worry worry, there are still lots of different types of coral to see in the Great Barrier Reef.

As an even larger over-arching grouping, it can be helpful to classify coral into two groups: hard and soft. Hard coral is usually found in clear shallow waters and often act as the "skeleton" of a coral reef. The Staghorn variety is the most common type of hard coral found at the Great Barrier Reef. This type of coral eventually forms limestone casings that can provide rigid structure to the reef, which in turn provides neat shelters for the marine life residing in the reefs.

In our opinion, hard coral is fascinating, but we have to agree with many of the people who find soft coral to be more visually appealing. They are...well...softer than the hard coral, so they don't have the same rigid appearance, and often have a leather-type texture and can be quite squishy. Although the soft coral does not provide rigid structure to house fish, you can find just as many, if not more, fish in soft coral. The main reason is that soft coral provides an excellent environment for marine algae, which is a great source of food for many different types of fish.


Fish! Lots and lots of fish! As stated above, there is an estimated 1500 or so species of fish residing in and around the Great Barrier Reef. However, there are a small number of family groups, which means you may be able to start identifying types of fish by their appearance and behavior. Generally speaking, there are so many fish to see that you shouldn't worry about a lack of fish.

So what types of fish can you see when snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef? We could list different types of fish for days, but these are some of the more common types of fish you might see: Butterfly fish, angelfish (related to butterfly fish), wrasse, damselfish, clown fish, triggerfish, cardinal fish, gobies, and much, much, more.

One thing to keep in mind when snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, is that it can be considered frowned upon to feed any fish. Lots of people still do this, but just like any other animal, "people food" isn't always healthy for fish. Additionally, given this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a natural wonder of the world, it's best to try and maintain the wild environment.

Therefore, no matter what type of food, we encourage you to avoid the urge to feed the fish on your own, as eventually they may become dependent on this type of feeding. Some Great Barrier Reef snorkeling tours do have permits to feed fish, at which point they are usually restricted to the type and amount of food available, but only in this case should it be considered okay to feed the fish.

Dolphins and Turtles

In addition to the smaller fish you may encounter while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, you may also get to hang out with some larger animals like dolphins. Although it's never guaranteed that you will see them, Dolphins are incredibly intelligent creatures, and it's often thought that they can enjoy their encounters with humans to the point where they seem playful. There are whale-watching and dolphin-watching tours at the Great Barrier Reef, but if you're lucky, you may get to see a dolphin while snorkeling.

Turtles are always an extremely popular attraction among snorkelers. Given they are such slow and ancient creatures, it can be difficult to imagine turtles having any sort of apparent personality. However, the turtles you can see while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef are often reported to be more curious, and sometimes even more playful, than expected.