Great Barrier Reef


The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system, composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands, that stretch for 2,600 kilometres covering an area of approximately 344,400 km².

The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The coral reefs hold a huge biodiversity, with dugong, whales, Dolphins and turtles among the most notable marine species.


Community Reviews

Mirjam S. - April 2015

The Great Barrier Reef was one of the few things I knew about Australia before I decided to go there and started planning my trip. Of course I had to go and see it, although I am not a water person and I don't like swimming in the ocean. So when I stayed in Cairns, I chose a tour operator offering trips including a glass bottom boat, and I liked it. I am sure it is nothing like snorkeling, but still I enjoyed what I saw and was fascinated by the underwater world.

Later, when visiting the Whitsunday Islands, I did another tour and this one was even better because the water was so clear and still that I could see the corals straight from the boat, without having to use the glass bottom.

I think I don't have to write anything else - it is famous enough already, and a "must see" for most people when visiting Australia!

Read more from Mirjam S. here.

Callie - March 2012

Recently went to the Whitsunday's. It is such a beautiful place at the Great Barrier Reef. Best experience of my family's life and mine also. Five star by far :)

Amy - November 2010

The Great Barrier Reef was a wonderful place to visit with seeing all of the great animals The shark were beautifuland it was great to see one of the worlds greatest natural beauty. The hotels are great and offer all the help you could need to experience at full potential. I've been there 9 times and going again next year! I would defently reccomend it

booshiki - May 2008

The Great Barrier Reef was one of the best experiences in my life and i will never ever forget it. Go there and you won't regret it.

Emilia Bautista King - February 2006

I'm not much of a swimmer but I wouldn't go to the Great Barrier Reef without snorkelling. I'm so glad I was up for it because it was quite amazing to see the different varieties of fish! From Airlie Beach, I took a two-day boat trip out to the Whitsundays. I got a bit seasick but it was worth it, especially to come into contact with rainbow lorikeets!

Rob Wilson - February 2006

What a place this is! I'm not much of a marine person, but I don't think I'll ever forget my visit to this part of the world. Just go, you won't regret it.

Ben Pastore

I visited the Great Barrier Reef via a liveaboard dive boat in March 2005. I've been diving all over the world, but this place tops them all if there was an "overall best" category. Marine life was prolific and varied and conditions were fantastic. It truly lived up to its name as being "Great".

Klaus Freisinger

You could be forgiven for assuming from the other posts that only Australians would visit Great Barrier Reef, but that´s not quite true :-)

I´m not much of a sailing/diving enthusiast, but I did do a boattrip from Cairns to the Reef with some snorkeling, and I must admit it was really fantastic. You could see lots and lots of the most bizarre and colorful fish and corals, as well as big sea turtles, all in an evidently unharmed environment, despite the danger that global warming poses to this great site. If I decide to learn to dive, I´d probably come back here.

Janey 69er

I think dat it was da best, all dose fish were swimmin' 'round and i saw 1 get stuck in some coral. i also saw a shark thing but it was miniature and it only 8 seaslugs... weird. Kool. Cya

Rebeka tompson

The great barrier reef was one of the most fun holidays that i have had in a long time. i found it very worth while. i caught a bus that took me there and back to school. the only thing that was disappointing is that when we got back to school we had to write a 6 page essa and i had over that amount.My teacher is planning another field trip soon and that has encouraged me to learn more about the great barrier reef that is how i found your wonderful and mind blowing site.


We have recently experienced a wonderful cruise to the great barrier reef. We went snorkelling on a pontoon. The beautiful fish will never be forgoten in my memory. The coral was as alive as ever and swaying to and fro with the current. AND i didn't get bitten by a shark! It was wonderful!

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Site Info

Full name: Great Barrier Reef

Site History


The site has 1 locations.

  • Great Barrier Reef


The site has 27 connections.


  • Prison Palm Island was used as a penal colony for aboriginals from the 1920s to the 60s



  • Blue Holes Pompey hardline reef complex - Barrier Star Blue hole and Crystal Blue hole
  • Carnivorous plants Drosera adelae, native to Hinchinbrook Island
  • Coral 
  • Lagoons 
  • Mangroves 3800km2
  • Siraneans Dugong "The site includes major feeding grounds for the endangered dugong (Sirenia: Dugong dugon)" AB
  • Turtles and tortoises Six of the world's seven species of marine turtle occur in the GBR. As well as the world's largest green turtle breeding site at Raine Island, the GBR also includes many regionally important marine turtle rookeries (OUV)
  • Whales At least 30 species of whales and dolphins occur here, and it is a significant area for humpback whale calving. (OUV)


  • Archipelagos (Tectonic Uplift and Deposition). The reef itself is not considered an "Archipelago" but it includes a number of islands which are the remains of a mountain chain. The "Cumberland Islands Archipelago" consists of some 70 inner continental islands of which some at least are inside the inscribed site e..g "Located in the southern part of the Whitsundays, Keswick Island is a member of the Cumberland group of islands and is within the UNESCO World Heritage Great Barrier Reef area.
  • Cape Cape York
  • Contiguous National Sites With Wet Tropics of Queensland, off Cape Tribulation
  • Coral Sea 
  • Largest area 344,400 sq kms
  • Marine sites Total inscribed area of almost 35million h. Exact ratio of terrestrial - marine not stated but must be significantly scewed towards "marine".
  • Pacific Ocean 

Human Activity

Individual People

  • Captain James Cook June 11 1770 ? ran aground on the reef and badly damaged ?Endeavour?. Took 7 weeks to repair
  • William Bligh During his "open boat voyage" to Timor after the Mutiny on the Bounty he sailed through its waters and landed at several islands including, from 28-31 May 1789, "Restoration Island" which was named by him


  • Middle Pleistocene The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) considers the earliest evidence of complete reef structures to have been 600,000 years ago. (Wiki)


WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process