28 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

28 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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Route & dates

28 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Adelaide
Fly:  6​h 45​min
1
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
+3
Fly + Drive + ferry + Drive:  9​h
2
Fraser Island
— 3 nights
+3
Drive + ferry + Drive + Fly:  9​h
3
Hamilton Island
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h
4
Airlie Beach
— 4 nights
Drive + ferry:  4​h 30​min
5
Magnetic Island
— 1 night
ferry:  30​min
6
Townsville
— 3 nights
Fly:  3​h 15​min
7
Cairns
— 6 nights
Drive:  1​h 15​min
8
Port Douglas
— 5 nights
shuttle + Fly:  6​h 15​min
End: Adelaide


1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
For maps, traveler tips, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Whitsunday Island trip planning website .

Adelaide to Whitsunday Island is an approximately 7-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or take a bus. Traveling from Adelaide in January, plan for somewhat warmer nights in Whitsunday Island, with lows around 26°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Wed) so you can travel to Fraser Island.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Beaches Outdoors
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 2:
Highlights from your plan
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet

3
nights
Fraser Island

Fraser Island ©
Get in touch with nature at Sandy Cape Lighthouse and Indian Head. Visit Seventy-Five Mile Beach and Eli Creek for some beach relaxation.

To find traveler tips, maps, other places to visit, and more tourist information, use the Fraser Island trip itinerary planning website .

Traveling by combination of flight, ferry, and car from Whitsunday Island to Fraser Island takes 9 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train, car, and ferry; or do a combination of bus, ferry, and car. In January, daily temperatures in Fraser Island can reach 36°C, while at night they dip to 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Sun) to allow time to travel to Hamilton Island.

Things to do in Fraser Island

Parks Nature Beaches
Find places to stay Jan 2 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Lake McKenzie ©
Lake McKenzie
Seventy-Five Mile Beach ©
Seventy-Five Mile Beach
Eli Creek ©
Eli Creek

2
nights
Hamilton Island

A trip to Hamilton Island takes you to a car-free destination mostly covered in bushland.
Visiting Scuba & Snorkeling and Alani Charters will get you outdoors. There's much more to do: take in the exciting artwork at Hamilton Island Art Gallery, head outdoors with Jetryder, admire all the interesting features of Go-Kart Racing Track, and enjoy the sand and surf at Catseye Beach.

For photos, ratings, maps, and tourist information, refer to the Hamilton Island route maker website .

You can do a combination of car, ferry, and flight from Fraser Island to Hamilton Island in 9 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car, ferry, and bus. Plan for a bit warmer nights when traveling from Fraser Island in January since evenings lows in Hamilton Island dip to 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 9th (Wed) early enough to catch the ferry to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Hamilton Island

Outdoors Tours Parks
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hamilton Island Golf Club ©
Hamilton Island Golf Club
Alani Charters ©
Alani Charters

4
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.
Head to Above & Below Photography and Art Whitsunday Gallery & Shopfor some retail therapy. Take a break from the city and head to Scuba & Snorkeling and Cumberland Charter Yachts. On the 11th (Fri), spend a thrilling day on the water with a speed boat tour. And it doesn't end there: zoom along the surf with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, kick back and relax at Airlie Beach Lagoon, and tour the water at your own pace with Queensland Yacht Charters.

To find where to stay, other places to visit, ratings, and other tourist information, you can read our Airlie Beach online sightseeing planner .

Traveling by ferry from Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach takes an hour. In January, daytime highs in Airlie Beach are 34°C, while nighttime lows are 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 13th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel to Magnetic Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 9 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Speed Boats Tours
Scuba & Snorkeling
Waterskiing & Jetskiing

1
night
Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island
Start off your visit on the 14th (Mon): take an in-depth tour of Magnetic Island Museum, then step off the mainland to explore Magnetic Island Forts Walk, and then choose your vessel at Big Mama Sailing.

To see ratings, photos, traveler tips, and tourist information, refer to the Magnetic Island sightseeing planner .

You can do a combination of car and ferry from Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry; or do a combination of bus, train, and ferry. Expect a daytime high around 37°C in January, and nighttime lows around 29°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 14th (Mon) so you can catch the ferry to Townsville.

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Wildlife Adventure Outdoors
Find places to stay Jan 13 — 14:

3
nights
Townsville

Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Visiting Museum of Tropical Queensland and The Strand will get you outdoors. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts and Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. The adventure continues: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, stop by CoffeeWorks, trek along Castle Hill, and view the masterpieces at Pinnacles Gallery.

To find ratings, where to stay, traveler tips, and tourist information, go to the Townsville trip itinerary planning site .

Townsville is just a stone's throw from Magnetic Island. In January in Townsville, expect temperatures between 37°C during the day and 29°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Thu) so you can travel to Cairns.

Things to do in Townsville

Outdoors Museums Parks
Find places to stay Jan 14 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
The Strand ©
The Strand
Museum of Tropical Queensland ©
Museum of Tropical Queensland

6
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.
Shop till you drop at Underart Gallery and Rusty's Market. Doongal Aboriginal Art and Cairns Art Gallery are good opportunities to explore the local culture. Spend the 18th (Fri) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Spend the 20th (Sun) wandering through the wild on a nature and wildlife tour. And it doesn't end there: hike along Esplanade Boardwalk, take a stroll around Tanks Arts Centre, buy something for everyone on your list at Smithfield Shopping Centre, and take in the exciting artwork at Bones and Jones.

To see reviews, more things to do, maps, and tourist information, go to the Cairns online trip maker .

Traveling by flight from Townsville to Cairns takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. In January, daily temperatures in Cairns can reach 37°C, while at night they dip to 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Shopping Wildlife

Side Trips

Smithfield Shopping Centre, Tanks Arts Centre, Yorkeys Knob Beach
Find places to stay Jan 17 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Nature & Wildlife Tours

5
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.
Give yourself a bit of retail therapy at Village Gallery and Des Spencer Galleries. Do some cultural sightseeing at Ngarru Gallery and Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery. Go for a jaunt from Port Douglas to Palm Cove to see Palm Cove Beach about 42 minutes away. Spend the 25th (Fri) spotting exotic species with a safari tour. Spend the 24th (Thu) among aquatic life with a scuba or snorkeling tour. The adventure continues: explore and take pictures at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, admire nature's wide array of creatures at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, browse the eclectic array of goods at Sunday Market Port Douglas, and stroll through Four Mile Beach.

To find reviews, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Port Douglas trip planner .

Traveling by car from Cairns to Port Douglas takes 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a shuttle. January in Port Douglas sees daily highs of 37°C and lows of 28°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 28th (Mon) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trips

Palm Cove, Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery
Find places to stay Jan 23 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Safaris
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

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