Visiting the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with Kids

by Tonya Staab

Visiting the Great Barrier Reef with kids? We’ve got you covered with tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, and more.

We spent the first week of our Australia vacation exploring Queensland. The next three weeks were spent in Melbourne visiting family and friends. I’ll be breaking our trip up into several posts – I’m sure you don’t want to see all 1000 photos at once.

Reef King catamaran tours

boats at the jetty at green island in australia

Prior to our vacation, I had booked The Great Adventures – Green Island and Great Barrier Reef Adventure Tour through the Cairns Visitor Center. The photograph above is of Green Island which was our first point of call once we boarded the catamaran.

reef king catamaran at the great barrier reef

The weather was perfect and the ocean was calm. We spotted huge turtles and lots of fish on our way out.

boy on the deck of the reef king catamaran at the great barrier reef
looking back at the mainland from the deck of a boat heading out to the great barrier reef

Green Island snorkeling

At Green Island, we were given snorkels and fins and made our way to the beach to take in the beauty beneath the surface of the ocean. Even I snorkeled. For someone who cannot even put my face under the water in the shower, I braved putting my face in the ocean. It took a lot of courage, but when Miss M looked at me fearful of the thought of snorkeling in the ocean I put my big girl pants on. She was so happy to swim alongside me, even if I did think I was going to have a heart attack on more than one occasion.

kids on the beach getting ready to snorkel off green island
lady snorkeling with kids at green island
fishing in clear blue water at the great barrier reef
viewing a clam under the sea
blue and gold fish at green island
bird on green island

Outer reef pontoon

From Green Island, we headed to a pontoon on the outer reef. Once there, Jay could scuba dive and the kids could continue to snorkel.

pontoon on the great barrier reef

Great Barrier Reef scuba diving

It had been on Jay’s bucket list in 2013 to get his scuba diving certification. Over the summer I arranged for him to do just that. He ended up doing two dives from the pontoon, one with a less experienced dive group and then a second with a more experienced group where he could see a little more.

Look at this handsome kid. Hard to believe he’s 18 already.

young adult male dressed in scuba diving gear
boy scuba diving in great barrier reef blue water
man scuba diving in the great barrier reef with a huge fish

When Jay was learning to scuba dive, we purchased a Watershot case for the iPhone so that we could capture underwater shots on our trip. It was well worth it.

On the pontoon, they offered a fantastic buffet lunch. There were a number of activities you could do too:

  • snorkeling and diving equipment
  • scenic helicopter flights
  • a semi-submersible submarine
  • underwater observation area
  • Scuba-Doo underwater scooters.
boy trying on snorkeling gear on a great barrier reef pontoon
kids snorkeling in the blue water at the great barrier reef
boy snorkeling in the blue water of the great barrier reef
girl snorkeling great barrier reef
boy snorkeling great barrier reef
blue water with tiny fish swimming
cuttlefish great barrier reef
small tropical fish swimming in a coral reef
coral reef great barrier reef
coral reef with a small blue and orange tropical fish

The kids were absolutely exhausted by the time the catamaran was ready to head back to Cairns. The view on the return trip was breathtaking though.

kids on a catamaran

The boy child spent the entire time sitting on the laps of three girls. He stole their hearts with kisses and cuddles and telling stories about his big brother, who was a little embarrassed (and maybe a little jealous). They were even invited to spend Christmas with us and to visit us in San Diego. Thankfully he decided to come home with me.

boy and female tourists on a catamaran

This was the perfect end to a perfect day.

sunset over great barrier reef

Looking for more things to do in Queensland with kids? Try these:

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13 comments

Angela January 13, 2014 - 7:08 am

So glad you were able to relax and heal. Australia is on my bucket list! Here’s to a happy, healthy new year. xoxo

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Kate - Catching Up With Kate January 13, 2014 - 6:57 am

Oh Tonya! Those pictures are BEAUTIFUL! It looks like it was a fun, relaxing, healing trip for all. May 2014 be filled with lots of blessings for your family! You deserve the best!

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Tonya Staab January 13, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Thanks Kate. Hoping 2014 brings many more opportunities to catch up with you too.

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Tonya Staab January 13, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Thanks Shar. Missing you lady. Let’s get together soon.

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Alli @ Diapers-n-Heels January 13, 2014 - 7:23 am

What incredible pictures. Looking forward to seeing more of your trip. Many blessing for an fabulous 2014!

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Sharlene January 13, 2014 - 8:50 am

The Great Barrier Reef has long been on my list. So glad you and the kids were able to experience it. And so happy that you are happy.

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Rachel January 13, 2014 - 9:46 am

Wow. The Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list and these pictures are solidifying it. You have a beautiful family.

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Kelly January 13, 2014 - 11:22 am

WOW! I have always wanted to go there, and your pictures make that desire even stronger! Here’s to a wonderful 2014!

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Julie Cohn January 13, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Gorgeous photos Tonya! I know you went through a lot last year, and I am hoping 2014 brings you all the love, hope, and joy that you deserve! ♥

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Katie January 15, 2014 - 1:48 pm

I’m so glad you had a great holiday. Hope to see you soon. Pics are fab!

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Joann Woolley January 15, 2014 - 3:37 pm

I’m so glad to see that you got some amazing moments to connect with your kids and build lifelong memories over the holidays. My husband and I have wanted to go to Australia ever since the Olympics were hosted there – your real life experience is reminding me of that dream. Rather than saying “hope” or “some day” I am going to put it out to the universe that I want this to happen within 5 years time.

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Jamie January 17, 2014 - 8:14 pm

Brings back sooo many memories seeing your photos. What a great experience to have with your children though… =)

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Tonya Staab January 20, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Thanks Jamie,

We had such a great time. When did you go?

Reply

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