Excellent Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in 2023?

By Brian Boisseree

We are wondering where the excellent snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef is in 2023? We are visiting Australia for most of January, 2023, and were hoping to find insights as to where the best snorkeling can be found on the Great Barrier Reef, and whether, sadly, even the best snorkeling there is no longer interesting.

The most recent relevant posts that I could find were from 2019, and even then they describe very depressing coral landscapes with over 90% of the coral bleached out and dead.

Thanks for sharing any recent experiences snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.


  1. Go to Lady Elliott Island, southern Great Barrier Reef. You won’t be disappointed. The reef north has recovered from coral bleaching back in 2019 and is looking great.

    Also, it’s sad to hear that people around the world think there is a problem.

  2. The Great Barrier Reef stretches for 1700 km from the north of the State of Queensland right down as far south as Hervey Bay. But… there are only a few places to stay right on the reef and they can be a bit expensive to stay and get to. Here are the places. (I’ve been to three of these islands.)

    Lizard Island – exclusive and expensive but very nice.
    Green Island – boat access from Cairns, day trippers and stay available.
    Heron Island – boat access from town of Gladstone, a reef surrounds the island. Good size resort. Also has Reef Research station.
    Lady Elliott Island – a few ways to get there.

    Google for these island resorts and there is all the information you will require. It is worthwhile to stay on one of these. Otherwise from Cairns / Port Douglas there are day trips to the reef, where you will spend a few hours snorkeling if you do not have the time.

    Like any reefs worldwide, there are times that coral bleaching occurs, but, this can be a normal process to a certain degree. The reef is SO extensive, not ALL the reef is experiencing this all the time. The biggest threat to the reef is from our cyclonic storms, which causes immense damage to corals by the strong winds. But one gets plenty of warnings if these are on the horizon. The Great Barrier Reef is not one reef, it is is huge series of reefs, islands etc. and is pretty far offshore for much of its length.

  3. The barrier reef is in pristine condition. I went to Mackay Reef and Sand Cay off Port Douglas last year and was blown away by the diversity of marine life and corals.

    You must do Lady Elliot Island at the southern end, too. It is most impressive and full of turtles and manta rays.



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