It is very rare to have two World Heritage Sites sitting side by
side, yet that’s indeed the case in Australia’s Queensland where
the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforest meet. More than 2
million travelers make the journey to Queensland each year to
combine these two attractions.
Just to get an idea of the size of the Great Barrier Reef, here
are a few statistics: The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1,200
miles and boasts more than 1,500 species of fish. It is larger than
the Great Wall of China and is the planet’s biggest reef system
with 2,600 separate reefs.
Quicksilver is one of the luxury tour operators that makes daily
trips to the reef. The trip includes roundtrip transport,
snorkeling equipment (diving is available for an additional cost),
lunch, an observation area and, my favorite, a submarine tour.
Snorkelers can see hundreds of colorful fish and coral while in
the water, but the submarine covers an extensive part of the reef
including brain corral, giant clams and turtles that might not be
seen otherwise. Visitors can spend a few hours snorkeling the reef
and partaking in the submarine tour and they will quickly be
surprised at the variety and color variation of living creatures in
the deep blue waters.
Palm Cove is a popular jumping-off point for Great Barrier
trips. This region is also fast becoming a trendy spa destination
and many of the new resorts, including Sea Temple Resort, offer
beachfront access as well as state-of-the-art spas. The rooms at
the Sea Temple Resort are extremely spacious and the grounds
consisting of three pools, a spa, gym and beach are especially
fitting for families. And Palm Cove has the feel of Miami’s South
Beach, with lots of great cafes, restaurants and resorts.
After spending several days at the reef and relaxing at Palm
Cove, most visitors head north to visit the Daintree Rainforest.
This is the world’s epicenter of biodiversity: there are over 400
species of trees and hundreds of animals including birds, dingoes,
kangaroos and wallabies. In fact, the Wet Tropics rainforest which
includes Daintree covers 2.2 million acres, making it an oxygen
factory and a living museum of flora and fauna.
A favorite lodge for honeymooners and vacationing couples is
Silky Oaks Lodge. Here visitors will enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the
rainforest. Guests are treated to guided walks into the woods; the
night walks offer chance encounters with a variety of nocturnal
For those guests wanting to explore the forest on their own,
they should bike to Mosman Gorge, about a 30-minute ride from the
lodge. This area offers amazing hiking trails that traverse past
waterfalls, rich plant life and a diverse species of trees. The
Daintree Rainforest has survived almost unchanged for 110 million
years, meaning these rainforests contain several of the first
flowing plant species from which all plants originated. Guests will
feel like they are walking through Jurassic Park.