Guest post: visiting the Great Barrier Reef with kids

The touchtank on a reef pontoon
We're so excited to be part of an International Blog Swap Day organised by Tots100, and we are also feeling very lucky to introduce someone from the other side of the world to Family Travel Times.

Danielle runs Bubs on the Move which is a gorgeous family travel blog. She lives in Melbourne and has three of the cutest children you will ever see! Here is her post on visiting the Great Barrier Reef. We've never been, but we'd love to as she makes it sound truly magical.

Over to Danielle:

Thanks so much to Sarah for hosting me for an international blog swap.  One of the best things about being a travel blogger is getting inspiration from other blogger’s travels and insights of home.  After sticky-beaking on Sarah’s family travels I can’t wait for my newborn to be old enough to contemplate a European adventure of our own.

We spent five years living in paradise. Cairns, in tropical north Queensland is gorgeous.  For play-dates we would meet other families on palm-fringed beaches. Day trips with the kids often involved swimming in rainforest waterholes or visiting nearby islands. We recently left Cairns for colder Melbourne and as winter approaches I’m starting to miss it dreadfully.

While living in Cairns we visited the Great Barrier Reef often with our two young sons.  The kids loved it and so did we. What surprised me though was that most of the visitors we met who also had young kids gave the Great Barrier Reef a miss.  Many thought it was too hard, and off limits to all but the footless and fancy free.  I admit that when we first moved to Cairns I had similar misgivings about exploring the reef with my kids.

Stretching almost 3000 kilometres and running nearly parallel to the Queensland Coast, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.  Travellers can access the reef at its southernmost end from Bundaberg, all the way north up to the Cape York Peninsula.  The reef presents visitors to Queensland with the opportunity to engage with a unique and beautiful ecosystem and abundant wildlife.  Sea turtles, giant clams, brilliantly colored coral and innumerable tropical fish are on view for those that look beneath the ocean’s surface.

Admittedly there are some constraints- unless you have a babysitter, a scuba diving holiday with young kids is impossible.  There are so many other ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef though with kids – ways that are loads of fun for parents, and that give kids a valuable insight into nature and the wild. Here some of them:

(1) Visit the Outer Reef.
Boats that carry visitors to a pontoon are best.  Sunlover and Reef Magic from Cairns and Cruise Whitsundays from Airlie Beach are examples of these. Pontoons have underwater viewing windows, touch tanks, and children’s pools where kids can learn to snorkel and feed the fish.  Kids that are competent swimmers may also be able to snorkel off the pontoon under supervision.  Most operators also run glass bottom boat and semi-submersible tours at not extra charge during the day.  You can read more about our own trip to the Outer Reef here

Green Island
(2) Take a day trip or stay on one of the Great Barrier Reef’s islands.
Green Island and Fitzroy Island are both day trips from Cairns, as well as having resorts on site. Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays is a favorite holiday destination for Australian families and has a childcare on site opening up the opportunity for parents to explore the reef on their own too. When you aren’t relaxing on the beach kids can learn to snorkel. Even very young kids will enjoy seeing sea turtles and colored tropical fish from the surface such as when walking on piers. Many island resorts also offer glass bottom boat tours.  You may like to read more about Fitzroy Island – a great resort to visit for a couple of days.

(3) Explore the reef on foot.
Some sites offer reef walks at very low tide.  Green Island off Cairns and King Reef off Kurrimine beach are two locations where this is possible.  Be sure to check the dates you are visiting to ensure this is possible and wear appropriate footwear.  Check our our experience of Green Island here.

(4) Check out a Great Barrier Reef display at one of Australia’s amazing aquariums.  Reef HQ in Townsville has a turtle hospital. Sydney Aquarium, Melbourne Aquarium and Sea World on the Gold Coast all have impressive Great Barrier Reef exhibits.


Danielle Esler lives in Melbourne Australia.  She is mum to three kids aged 5, 3 and 9 weeks.  With her older kids she has traveled to China, Japan, Europe and the USA as well as around much of Australia.  She is also a medical doctor and is an advocate for family travel health.

Read our post for Danielle's blog, Bubs on the Move. It's all about what you MUST do when you visit London.

Read another guest post, this time by Ella, on visiting Barcelona.





Labels: , , , , ,

Family Travel Times: Guest post: visiting the Great Barrier Reef with kids

Friday, 9 May 2014

Guest post: visiting the Great Barrier Reef with kids

The touchtank on a reef pontoon
We're so excited to be part of an International Blog Swap Day organised by Tots100, and we are also feeling very lucky to introduce someone from the other side of the world to Family Travel Times.

Danielle runs Bubs on the Move which is a gorgeous family travel blog. She lives in Melbourne and has three of the cutest children you will ever see! Here is her post on visiting the Great Barrier Reef. We've never been, but we'd love to as she makes it sound truly magical.

Over to Danielle:

Thanks so much to Sarah for hosting me for an international blog swap.  One of the best things about being a travel blogger is getting inspiration from other blogger’s travels and insights of home.  After sticky-beaking on Sarah’s family travels I can’t wait for my newborn to be old enough to contemplate a European adventure of our own.

We spent five years living in paradise. Cairns, in tropical north Queensland is gorgeous.  For play-dates we would meet other families on palm-fringed beaches. Day trips with the kids often involved swimming in rainforest waterholes or visiting nearby islands. We recently left Cairns for colder Melbourne and as winter approaches I’m starting to miss it dreadfully.

While living in Cairns we visited the Great Barrier Reef often with our two young sons.  The kids loved it and so did we. What surprised me though was that most of the visitors we met who also had young kids gave the Great Barrier Reef a miss.  Many thought it was too hard, and off limits to all but the footless and fancy free.  I admit that when we first moved to Cairns I had similar misgivings about exploring the reef with my kids.

Stretching almost 3000 kilometres and running nearly parallel to the Queensland Coast, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.  Travellers can access the reef at its southernmost end from Bundaberg, all the way north up to the Cape York Peninsula.  The reef presents visitors to Queensland with the opportunity to engage with a unique and beautiful ecosystem and abundant wildlife.  Sea turtles, giant clams, brilliantly colored coral and innumerable tropical fish are on view for those that look beneath the ocean’s surface.

Admittedly there are some constraints- unless you have a babysitter, a scuba diving holiday with young kids is impossible.  There are so many other ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef though with kids – ways that are loads of fun for parents, and that give kids a valuable insight into nature and the wild. Here some of them:

(1) Visit the Outer Reef.
Boats that carry visitors to a pontoon are best.  Sunlover and Reef Magic from Cairns and Cruise Whitsundays from Airlie Beach are examples of these. Pontoons have underwater viewing windows, touch tanks, and children’s pools where kids can learn to snorkel and feed the fish.  Kids that are competent swimmers may also be able to snorkel off the pontoon under supervision.  Most operators also run glass bottom boat and semi-submersible tours at not extra charge during the day.  You can read more about our own trip to the Outer Reef here

Green Island
(2) Take a day trip or stay on one of the Great Barrier Reef’s islands.
Green Island and Fitzroy Island are both day trips from Cairns, as well as having resorts on site. Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays is a favorite holiday destination for Australian families and has a childcare on site opening up the opportunity for parents to explore the reef on their own too. When you aren’t relaxing on the beach kids can learn to snorkel. Even very young kids will enjoy seeing sea turtles and colored tropical fish from the surface such as when walking on piers. Many island resorts also offer glass bottom boat tours.  You may like to read more about Fitzroy Island – a great resort to visit for a couple of days.

(3) Explore the reef on foot.
Some sites offer reef walks at very low tide.  Green Island off Cairns and King Reef off Kurrimine beach are two locations where this is possible.  Be sure to check the dates you are visiting to ensure this is possible and wear appropriate footwear.  Check our our experience of Green Island here.

(4) Check out a Great Barrier Reef display at one of Australia’s amazing aquariums.  Reef HQ in Townsville has a turtle hospital. Sydney Aquarium, Melbourne Aquarium and Sea World on the Gold Coast all have impressive Great Barrier Reef exhibits.


Danielle Esler lives in Melbourne Australia.  She is mum to three kids aged 5, 3 and 9 weeks.  With her older kids she has traveled to China, Japan, Europe and the USA as well as around much of Australia.  She is also a medical doctor and is an advocate for family travel health.

Read our post for Danielle's blog, Bubs on the Move. It's all about what you MUST do when you visit London.

Read another guest post, this time by Ella, on visiting Barcelona.





Labels: , , , , ,

13 Comments:

At 9 May 2014 at 05:08 , Blogger Agata Pokutycka said...

Wow, the reef looks amazing!
I dream about moving closer to the sea.

 
At 9 May 2014 at 05:42 , Blogger Trish Burgess said...

The International blog swap is such a great idea. So good to 'meet' Danielle through your blog, Sarah, and hear about the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

 
At 9 May 2014 at 11:02 , Blogger MummyTravels said...

Although Australia's not on our immediate travel list it's somewhere I'd love to go, so really interesting to read about ways to visit the Great Barrier Reef with kids. I've got to admit I assumed it would be too difficult until they were older too.

 
At 10 May 2014 at 03:13 , Blogger Sarah Ebner said...

Yes, thanks Trish. I feel like it's opened up a completely different part of the world to the blog!

 
At 10 May 2014 at 03:13 , Blogger Sarah Ebner said...

Lucky Danielle was here to tell us otherwise Cathy!!

 
At 12 May 2014 at 10:02 , Anonymous Britany said...

The Great Barrier Reef is such an incredible natural wonder to experience, and imagine it's even more magical for kids!

 
At 12 May 2014 at 15:17 , Blogger Hannah said...

Great Barrier reef is high on my list! Glad to see I can still make it work if I have kids by the time I get there ;)

 
At 13 May 2014 at 01:27 , Blogger Jenography.net said...

It's great to get tips on a family visit to the Great Barrier Reef. On the list for someday soon, I hope...

 
At 13 May 2014 at 01:54 , Blogger Mari's World said...

Australia has been on my bucket list for years, scuba diving the reef too, we almost moved there a few years ago! I would LOVE to visit, it must be such a beautiful place

 
At 13 May 2014 at 01:55 , Blogger Mari's World said...

Secondly - what a fab idea about International Blog Swap, I'd like to do it too, where do I go or am I too late?

 
At 16 June 2014 at 02:35 , Anonymous great barrier reef holidays said...

Wow! This place looks cool. I'm sure you guys had a great time. Looking forward at visiting to the Great Barrier Reef with my kids sometime soon. Thanks for sharing.

 
At 19 July 2014 at 09:57 , Blogger Sarah Ebner said...

Hi Mari, sorry too late, but hopefully next year!! It was via tots100 (just saw your comment, so I am late too!)

 
At 19 July 2014 at 09:57 , Blogger Sarah Ebner said...

Yes, on my list too! For one day...

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home