The Great Barrier Reef is a tourist attraction and holiday destination in itself, however there are also a number of spectacular islands surrounding the region which also attract a large number of visitors each year.
The Whitsunday Islands are probably the most well-known group of islands on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and are a collection of smaller islands scattered off the central coast of North Queensland. These include the exclusive island paradises of Hamilton Island, Hayman Island and stunning Whitehaven Beach. The Whitsundays are also one of the Southern Hemisphere's most popular yachting destinations.
There are also a number of island groups located within the Whitsundays on the Great Barrier Reef which include the Molle Group and the Lindeman Group. The most notable Molle Island is Daydream Island which offers a secluded tropical paradise ideal for couples and families. At only a kilometre in length and half a kilometre in width, the island is easily explored and offers a fantastic range of snorkelling and diving opportunities. Accommodation is available on the island and is protected from day trippers at the opposite end of the beach.
The Family Islands are primarily National Parks and are situated off the coast midway between Townsville and Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. The most well-known of the Family Islands include Dunk Island and Bedarra Island. Over 75% of Dunk Island is comprised of National Park which is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Formally also home to a resort and an excellent range of activities and facilities, tropical cyclones Larry and Yasi in recent years caused extensive damage forcing the island to be closed.
Bedarra Island was also affected by the cyclones and is also closed to the public however it was once renowned as a luxury island resort destination. The exclusive holiday island limited guest numbers to provide an intimate and environmentally friendly holiday experience. Bedarra Island is also home to a fantastic range of native wildlife and National Park and aside from beach activities, diving and snorkelling and nature and wildlife tours, the island was also a great place to spot whales during their annual migration.
Lady Elliot Island is a stunning coral cay, the most southern of the Great Barrier Reef, and is home to a spectacular eco resort. Located within the highest possible classification in the Great Barrier Reef by the Marine Park Authority, Lady Elliot's 'Green Zone' protects the amazing biodiversity ensuring the precious environment, breeding grounds and native flora and fauna can continue to be enjoyed by guests of the island for years to come.
Lady Elliot Island is also renowned for some of the Great Barrier Reef's most breathtaking snorkelling and diving with exceptional water clarity, tropical marine life and colourful coral gardens. These activities are available directly off the beach and are one of the island's major attractions. The island is also one of the world's most important Sea Turtle habitats.