Oh how times do change. Once little more than a swamp considered a great place for collecting sea slugs, Cairns now serves as one of Australia’s main tourism hubs. These days, the city receives more than 2 million visitors each year – many of whom come for The Great Barrier Reef. And most of whom want to see more than sea slugs.

They’ve come to the right place. Covering more than 340,000 km2 (that’s bigger than Italy or Vietnam), The Great Barrier Reef is counted as one of the most biologically diverse habitats on the planet. Turtles, clownfish, manta rays, dugongs, gropers, reef sharks, humpbacks, dolphins and some pretty psychedelic coral – they all live here and are regularly sighted. If life on land is more your thing, there’s still plenty around Cairns to impress. Head north into the lush, tropical beauty of Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree, inland to the rainforest and waterfalls of the Atherton Tablelands, or travel to where the asphalt ends in Cooktown.

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