8 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

8 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Great Barrier Reef trip planner

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Route & dates

8 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 2nd (Mon): get great views at Flagstaff Hill Lookout. On the 3rd (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: explore the gorgeous colors at Opal Reef, then identify plant and animal life at Wildlife Areas, and then look for gifts at With Sugar.

Use Inspirock's suggestions to plan your Port Douglas trip and find the best activities and attractions for your vacation.

Sydney to Port Douglas is an approximately 7-hour combination of flight and shuttle. You can also drive; or do a combination of train and bus. Expect a bit warmer temperatures when traveling from Sydney in December; daily highs in Port Douglas reach 36°C and lows reach 26°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 4th (Wed) early enough to catcht the bus to Cairns.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Wildlife Parks Tours

Side Trip

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Find places to stay Dec 2 — 4:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures
Safaris

2
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.
On the 5th (Thu), indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas and then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Here are some ideas for day two: enjoy some diversion at Esplanade Lagoon Pool, then hike along Esplanade Boardwalk, and then admire the natural beauty at Botanical Gardens.

To find traveler tips, ratings, maps, and tourist information, you can read our Cairns route planner.

You can take a bus from Port Douglas to Cairns in 1.5 hours. Other options are to drive; or take a shuttle. December in Cairns sees daily highs of 36°C and lows of 26°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to Whitsunday Island.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Wildlife Tours
Find places to stay Dec 4 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Esplanade Lagoon Pool ©
Esplanade Lagoon Pool

1
night
Whitsunday Island

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

For traveler tips, where to stay, photos, and tourist information, you can read our Whitsunday Island trip builder site .

You can fly from Cairns to Whitsunday Island in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or take a bus. In December, plan for daily highs up to 37°C, and evening lows to 24°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 7th (Sat) so you can take a bus to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

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

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 8th (Sun): stop by Beach Book Boutique, then enjoy the sand and surf at Airlie Beach Lagoon, and then discover the deep blue sea with a scuba or snorkeling tour. Keep things going the next day: see the world from above with a helicopter tour and then get some thrills out on the water with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure.

Plan a Airlie Beach trip in moments using our itinerary builder.

You can take a bus from Whitsunday Island to Airlie Beach in an hour. Another option is to ride a ferry. Traveling from Whitsunday Island in December, Airlie Beach is somewhat warmer at night with lows of 28°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 9th (Mon) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Wildlife
Find places to stay Dec 7 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Waterskiing & Jetskiing
Scuba & Snorkeling
Airlie Beach Lagoon ©
Airlie Beach Lagoon

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