International Parks: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland, Australia

by Cie McCullough Buschle on May 7, 2012. Updated May 9, 2012

in Outdoors with Kids, Travel Ideas

The largest coral formation in the world, The Great Barrier Reef, contains livable islands as well as coral formations, some of which are also resorts. These provide a great base of operations for full days of snorkeling.

The reef is divided into three regions: Whitsunday Islands, Southern Reef Islands and Green Island. The Whitsunday Islands are a group of 74 islands, vast majority of which are designated national parks. Over half a million visitors come to the Whitsundays each year.

The Southern Reef Islands are a smaller group, consisting of only three islands: Heron, Wilson and Lady Elliot. Heron, the largest, has a resort that covers one third of the island as well as a research station of the University of Queensland. The rest is natural vegetation. Wilson has a small resort consisting of only 6 permanent tents; only 12 guests allowed at a time. Since Lady Elliot Island is within the “Green Zone” of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort only minimally impacts the island and surrounding waters. The most famous residents of Lady Elliot are 40 Manta Rays.

Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef

Green Island is a 6000 year old coral cay and is unique in that it has two environments: a reef and a rainforest, the only one in the 300 coral cays of the Great Barrier Reef. There are extensive boardwalks throughout the island, along with an interpretive boardwalk center. Canoes and kayaks can be rented for exploring the surrounding water, or take a ride on a Glass Bottom Boat. The world’s first stationary underwater observatory, opened in 1954, is a big attraction, and the Marineland Melanesia crocodile and marine life habitat has crocodile shows daily. Green Island is also home to the Green Island Resort.

| Cie McCullough Buschle lives with her dog Einstein and a cat named Burton Guster Took. She enjoys researching history through holidays, toys, and everyday objects. Cie is a sculptor and clay hand builder and spends her time traveling back in time to the Middle Ages as part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

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