12 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

12 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Los Angeles
+2
Fly + bus + ferry:  23​h 15​min
1
Airlie Beach
— 1 night
bus:  45​min
2
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
Fly + shuttle:  4​h
3
Port Douglas
— 4 nights
bus:  1​h 15​min
4
Cairns
— 3 nights
Fly:  16​h 45​min
End: Los Angeles

1
night
Airlie Beach

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Start off your visit on the 5th (Thu): discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Here are some ideas for day two: kick back and relax at Airlie Beach Lagoon, then go for a walk through Bicentennial Walkway, and then get some thrills out on the water with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure.

To see other places to visit, where to stay, ratings, and more tourist information, read our Airlie Beach trip itinerary builder tool .

Los Angeles, USA to Airlie Beach is an approximately 23.5-hour combination of flight, bus, and ferry. You can also do a combination of train, flight, bus, and ferry. The time zone difference when traveling from Los Angeles to Airlie Beach is 18 hours. When traveling from Los Angeles in September, plan for slightly colder days in Airlie Beach, with highs around 77°F, while nights are about the same with lows around 68°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Fri) to allow time to take a bus to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Wildlife
Find places to stay Sep 5 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Waterskiing & Jetskiing
Scuba & Snorkeling
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon

1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
Start off your visit on the 7th (Sat): contemplate the waterfront views at Hill Inlet and then enjoy the sand and surf at Whitehaven Beach.

To see other places to visit, maps, photos, and more tourist information, read our Whitsunday Island road trip app .

Traveling by bus from Airlie Beach to Whitsunday Island takes an hour. Alternatively, you can ride a ferry. Traveling from Airlie Beach in September, plan for slightly colder nights in Whitsunday Island, with lows around 58°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Sat) to allow enough time to travel to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Sep 6 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet

4
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Get outdoors at Four Mile Beach and Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. Spend the 10th (Tue) spotting exotic species with a safari tour. Spend the 8th (Sun) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. And it doesn't end there: learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, explore the gorgeous colors at Opal Reef, relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, and look for gifts at With Sugar.

To find traveler tips, reviews, maps, and more tourist information, use the Port Douglas trip planner .

You can do a combination of flight and shuttle from Whitsunday Island to Port Douglas in 4 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus, flight, and shuttle; or take a train. Traveling from Whitsunday Island in September, you can expect nighttime temperatures to be somewhat warmer in Port Douglas, with lows of 66°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 11th (Wed) early enough to catcht the bus to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife Outdoors Tours

Side Trip

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Sep 7 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Safaris

3
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Take a break from the city and head to Nature & Wildlife Tours and Scuba & Snorkeling. Explore Cairns' surroundings by going to Palm Cove (Palm Cove Beach & Spas). Next up on the itinerary: hike along Esplanade Boardwalk.

To see where to stay, ratings, reviews, and tourist information, use the Cairns itinerary planner .

Take a bus from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. Expect a daytime high around 83°F in September, and nighttime lows around 66°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 14th (Sat) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trip

Palm Cove
Find places to stay Sep 11 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Nature & Wildlife Tours
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk

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