The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest and longest coral reef system: roughly the same size as Japan. It’s so big, it can even be spotted from outer space. It’s comprised of 2,900 coral reefs, more than 1,050 islands (from tiny coral cays to large continental islands) and sprawls from the Torres Strait off Cape York in the north to the waters off Bundaberg in the south. It’s home to a mind-bendingly diverse ecosystem, colourful coral communities and vibrant marine life – all of which earned it World Heritage Status in 1981.

Queensland’s beauty isn’t just there to be admired; it’s there to be experienced. Discover the heart of the Great Barrier Reef in the magical Whitsundays; go snorkelling or diving, stake out a Great Barrier Reef island, whizz over the Reef in a tiny seaplane, have a romantic picnic on a secluded coral bay, embark on a sailing trip around the islands, watch seabed adventures from the comfort of a glass-bottomed boat and count how many rainbow hues you can spot in the sands.

Stay on the Reef by night. You could sleep in a swag (low tent) on a pontoon, 40 nautical miles from shore, with the vast sky and its twinkling stars as your ‘ceiling’. You’ll go exploring by day and star-gazing by night with help from Cruise Whitsundays and their permanently moored ‘Reefworld’ pontoon, which enjoys a prime location on Hardy Reef, one of the most incredible stretches of the Great Barrier Reef. You can even go on a night dive if the idea of sleeping seems a little wasteful… By day, you’ll get privileged access to top diving and snorkelling sites.

From Cairns, hop on a boat to the Great Barrier Reef; you’ll be at your destination in 45–90 minutes. See Mr & Mrs Smith hotels near the Great Barrier Reef

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