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Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The world's largest living structure, the Great Barrier Reef is often ranked as one of the natural wonders of the world. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park extends off the northern coast of Queensland from Mackay to the northeastern corner of Australia. It protects more than 3,000 coral reefs; 600 continental islands, 300 coral cays, and many mangrove islands. The reef's astounding diversity of marine life lures divers and snorkelers from around the world. More than 1,600 species of tropical fish inhabit the reef as well as sharks, dugongs, dolphins, turtles, giant clams, and kaleidoscopic soft and hard corals. Underwater viewing stations and glass bottom boats also offer a window into this underwater wonderland.

On the mainland, Cairns, Port Douglas, and Airlie Beach are the main launching points for tours. Alternatively visitors can stay at one of the many islands within the marine park. Remote Lizard Island, the park's most northerly island, is famous for its exclusive resort.