Top Islands: Great Barrier Reef
Top-rated in our survey, for its gorgeous white-sand beaches, virgin rain forests, and the incomparable reef itself—the largest protected underwater environment in the world and the Holy Grail for divers and snorkelers.
Most travelers pick a resort and spend time exploring its environment both
onshore and off. Divers might consider
an expedition to swim with one of the reef's most spectacular—and terrifying—denizens: the great white shark.
Food on the reef islands tends toward the uninspired. So get your fix en route at restaurants like the Boomerang in Smithfield, where baked reef shark with hokkien noodles epitomizes the local version of New Australian cooking.
Along with the expected "mate" and "barbie," the local lingo includes such gems as "dead horse}" (tomato sauce). Learn it to communicate better with the
"banana benders" (Queenslanders).
Don't want to commit to a whole vacation on the reef?You can get a taste of its
attractions on a day trip to Green Island, a World Heritage Site. The catamaran ride from Cairns, plus lunch at Green
Island Resort, costs about $45.