Surrounded by the Pacific, Southern and Indian Oceans, the country of Australia is also the smallest continent in the world. Home to the largest reef in the world, The Great Barrier Reef, it has long been associated with snorkeling and scuba diving. As goes with its reputation, the Great Barrier Reef has much to offer snorkelers. There are scores of tour operators offering trips.
Most of these trips launch from the tropical city of Cairns. This is a place where the reef system is relatively close to shore, although a boat trip is still necessary. Brilliant corals and rich sea life are plentiful here, and there are a number of trip options available.
Further south, a day-long or live aboard sailing trip through the Whitsunday Islands offers numerous excellent snorkeling opportunities. These will generally be in the pristine waters surrounding the islands, in one of many protected coves. However, they can also range out to the outer Great Barrier Reef.
Even further south, the beach town of Byron Bay has less to offer in the way of coral formations, but spectacular ocean life such as nurse sharks, rays and sea turtles. Although much of the focus of snorkeling in Australia is on the eastern coast, the west coast of Australia also contains excellent reefs, although reaching them can be a bit trickier.
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