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Explore the Great Barrier Reef without getting wet

As one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, exploring the stunning Great Barrier Reef is a bucket list item for many travelers. According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, over 1.2 million visitor days were recorded in the 2021 calendar year, an increase of 29 percent from the previous year.


Cairns Great Barrier Reef underwater view

The sensation of swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving among the beautiful varieties of coral and fish is quite surreal. But for some, the thought of jumping into the ocean miles away from the safety of the Queensland coastline is too daunting, instead opting out of any scenic tours to the reef and exploring other opportunities in and around the Cairns and Port Douglas region.


The great news is that you don't actually have to get wet to enjoy a Great Barrier Reef scenic tour out of Cairns on your next holiday adventure. Here are four great and exciting alternatives for those who prefer to stay dry:


Kids looking at reef from Cairns underwater observatory

Pontoon Underwater Observatory

There are several Cairns tour operators that offer huge floating platforms, known as pontoons as part of their Cairns reef tours. The pontoons are permanently moored on the reef and can accommodate a full boat load (or two) of visitors. These tours generally offer a variety of activities including an underwater observatory, which is a large room or corridor with tempered glass walls and floor. From here you can view the surrounding reef and watch the underwater activities being conducted by other tourists.


Man on glass bottom boat on Cairns reef

Glass Bottom Boat

The name says it all, a glass bottom boat is a boat from which visitors to the Great Barrier Reef can view the reef while being taken on a short tour from the pontoon. In addition to being moored near a reef operator's pontoon, glass bottom boats are also found alongside some islands near Cairns. You'll often have a marine biologist as your tour guide, with the added advantage over a fixed underwater observatory of being able to view a much broader range of coral and fish.


Semi-submersible boat on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns

Semi-submersible Boat

A semi-submersible boat has all the benefits of a glass bottom boat, however you'll actually be sitting under the water during your reef tour. Think of it as a combination of an underwater observatory and a glass bottom boat, you'll be so close to the reef that you could almost reach out and touch it... without getting wet. Most larger Cairns reef tours offer a semi-submersible reef tour as part of a pontoon package. For those who tend to feel a touch claustrophobic, the glass bottom boat option will give you the open air freedom you may prefer.


Cairns helicopter tours view of the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns Helicopter Tours

What better way to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef than with a Cairns scenic flight. A 360 degree bird's eye view of the reef will provide uninterrupted, postcard perfect pictures and memories of a lifetime, something that can only be matched by scuba diving deep beneath the water's surface. You'll see an abundance of marine life and experience the vastness and beauty of the coral from the comfort of your very own Cairns helicopter. Cairns helicopter tours are an immensely popular way to visit the reef, and Zoom Helicopters is Cairns' most popular choice for the experience of a lifetime.

Book your Cairns helicopter ride and cross that Great Barrier Reef scenic flight off your bucket list today.

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