Things to do on the Great Barrier Reef with kids

The Great Barrier Reef is a magical place to visit. Most parents wouldn’t think that it is safe to tour Australia’s natural wonder with kids, but there are actually quite a few things you can do. Introducing them at a young age helps them learn about the biodiversity and the beauty first hand. There are over 6,600 species of flora and fauna that live in the Great Barrier Reef; this includes 1,500 species of fish, 400 kinds of coral, and 4,000 species of mollusks. In this article, we will cover the different things you can do with your kids on holiday on the Great Barrier Reef.


Glass Bottom Boat Rides

You can charter a glass bottom boat ride from most port cities in Queensland adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. The clear glass allows you and your children to see the marine life, the brightly coloured fish and the magnificent corals without getting wet or even needing to know how to swim. Safely peer down into the clear blue waters and introduce your children to a whole new world they will come to love and respect.

Island Excursions

There are many different islands among the Great Barrier Reef that make for a great holiday with the kids. You can hire a Budget rent a car easily, and be on your way to one of the islands. Each of the islands boast several white sand beaches just waiting for sand castles. Some islands have accommodations so that you can stay on the island and get to experience so much of the Great Barrier Reef right from the island. The shallow beaches allow little ones to get their feet wet and experience the Coral Sea without getting in too deep. Whatever your tastes and budget is, there are island accommodations for you. If you thought staying on a Great Barrier Reef island was out of reach for a modest single parent budget, think again. All types of accommodations are available from budget camping tents, cabins, cottages, lodges, and luxury resorts. Here are some specific kid friendly island activities:


  • If you are looking for kid-friendly fun while on the island, check out Hamilton Island where you can plan to go bowling, take art classes, go-kart racing, mini golf, quad bikes and more.
  • From September to March you can see the Loggerhead and Green sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs and then the babies hatch and make their way back into the water. This is an excellent phenomenon to see with your kids.
  • On Daydream Island (located in the Whitsunday Islands) the resort there has an amazing living reef that runs through it. The Living Reef is one of the largest man-made living coral reef lagoons in the whole world. Children get to experience a piece of the Great Barrier Reef in the shallow lagoon without the dangers of open water. There are more than 140 species of marine fish and 83 species of coral in the Living Reef. Guests of the resort can wade through the waters, explore, touch, and learn about the marine life swimming through it. There are daily educational seminars and feeding sessions to help educate everyone about the reef, its inhabitants, and the importance of conservation.
  • Low Isles is a small cay just off the coast of Port Douglas. It is easy to get to but access is limited; so if you plan ahead of time, you can be a part of a limited tour that is perfect for you and your kids. There is a lighthouse on the island and a shallow, sheltered lagoon in the bay that is perfect for swimming.

Kid Friendly Activities in Port Cities

Up and down the Queensland coast along the Great Barrier Reef are a series of major port cities: Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville, Mackay, and Rockhampton. Each port city allows for easy access to destinations and charters on the Great Barrier Reef.


Things to Do in Cairns:

  • Cairns Zoo
  • Mossman Gorge
  • Kuranda Rainforest
  • Barron Gorge National Park

Things to Do in Port Douglas:

  • Daintree Rainforest
  • The Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Things to Do in Townsville:

  • The Strand Water Park
  • The Rockpool
  • Museum of Tropical Queensland
  • Reef HQ Aquarium
  • Billabong Sanctuary

Photo credit: Flickr/SummerDay, Flickr/RobertLinsdell, Flickr/PaulTooGood