15 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

15 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Great Barrier Reef trip maker

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Route & dates

15 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Melbourne
Fly + shuttle:  6​h 30​min
1
Port Douglas
— 3 nights
bus:  1​h 15​min
2
Cairns
— 5 nights
Fly:  3​h 15​min
3
Townsville
— 2 nights
bus:  3​h 45​min
4
Airlie Beach
— 3 nights
bus:  45​min
5
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
Fly:  4​h 30​min
End: Melbourne

3
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.
You'll visit kid-friendly attractions like Four Mile Beach and Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas. And it doesn't end there: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, get outside with Horses in Port, do a tasting at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery, and experience rural life at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures.

For more things to do, traveler tips, ratings, and tourist information, go to the Port Douglas online driving holiday planner .

Melbourne to Port Douglas is an approximately 6.5-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also drive; or do a combination of bus and train. Traveling from Melbourne in August, expect nights in Port Douglas to be a bit warmer, around 19°C, while days are much warmer, around 31°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Tue) so you can take a bus to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Wildlife Parks

Side Trips

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery
Find places to stay Aug 31 — Sep 3:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas ©
Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas
Four Mile Beach ©
Four Mile Beach

5
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.
Attractions like Palm Cove Beach and ZOO TO YOU HQ - Discovery Centre make great kid-friendly stops. Step out of Cairns to go to Palm Cove and see Spas, which is approximately 30 minutes away. And it doesn't end there: take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports, make a splash at Sugarworld Waterpark, stroll through Esplanade Boardwalk, and let little ones run wild at Muddy's Playground.

To see where to stay, maps, other places to visit, and tourist information, read our Cairns route planner.

Traveling by bus from Port Douglas to Cairns takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a shuttle. In September, plan for daily highs up to 33°C, and evening lows to 22°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 8th (Sun) early enough to travel to Townsville.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trips

Palm Cove, Sugarworld Waterpark
Find places to stay Sep 3 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Palm Cove Beach ©
Palm Cove Beach
Sugarworld Waterpark ©
Sugarworld Waterpark

2
nights
Townsville

Townsville ©
Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Start off your visit on the 9th (Mon): see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour and then kick back and relax at The Strand. Keep things going the next day: head off the coast to Museum of Tropical Queensland, go for a walk through Castle Hill, then take in the exciting artwork at The Drill Hall Studio, and finally don't miss a visit to Jezzine Barracks.

To see where to stay, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, read our Townsville trip maker website .

Traveling by flight from Cairns to Townsville takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. In September, daytime highs in Townsville are 32°C, while nighttime lows are 21°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 10th (Tue) so you can take a bus to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Townsville

Outdoors Parks Wildlife
Find places to stay Sep 8 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
The Strand ©
The Strand
Scuba & Snorkeling
Castle Hill
Castle Hill

3
nights
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.
Kids will enjoy Airlie Beach Lagoon and Grays Bay. There's lots more to do: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, go for a walk through Bicentennial Walkway, and take a memorable tour with Tours.

To find photos and tourist information, read our Airlie Beach trip planner .

Getting from Townsville to Airlie Beach by bus takes about 4 hours. Other options: drive; or do a combination of train and bus. When traveling from Townsville in September, plan for little chillier days in Airlie Beach, with highs around 29°C, while nights are about the same with lows around 23°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 13th (Fri) to allow enough time to take a bus to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Grays Bay
Find places to stay Sep 10 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Waterskiing & Jetskiing
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon
Scuba & Snorkeling

1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
Kick off your visit on the 14th (Sat): explore the activities along Hill Inlet and then kick back and relax at Whitehaven Beach.

To see traveler tips, more things to do, other places to visit, and more tourist information, refer to the Whitsunday Island trip itinerary 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 17°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 14th (Sat) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Outdoors Beaches
Find places to stay Sep 13 — 14:
Highlights from your plan
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet

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