Pontoon, glamping, island budget and super green – four fabulous ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

PONTOON STAY

Reefworld by Cruise Whitsundays

Spend the night in the middle of the reef for your next trip to Tropical North Queensland and fall asleep to the calming sounds of the ocean onboard a floating pontoon with a small group of friends – this is as close as you can get.

In the Whitsundays, Reefworld by Cruise Whitsundays allows you and just eight other friends on its Hardy Reef base, 40 nautical miles from shore.

After a full buffet dinner with unbeatable views, you can take a dive of a different sort – into your deluxe swag to get some sleep, in preparation for your private morning snorkel safari and glass-bottom boat ride before the day-trippers arrive.

cruisewhitsundays.com

GLAMPING

Lady Elliot Island

Glamping is not only camping’s more luxurious cousin, but one of the most comfortable and authentic ways to spend a weekend with the reef.

Think of hotel comfort with all the trimmings, while still getting up close and personal with nature’s beauty, tucked up in your own private tent.

Look no further than the panoramic views of Lady Elliot Island to find camping plus comfort – and no air mattresses in sight. On the southernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, the island has two glamping tents just metres from the edge of the protected lagoon – perfect for an early morning wake-up snorkel.

What’s more, there’s no sleeping covered in salt after your day of swimming, because each tent has a private bathroom.

ladyelliot.com

CAMPING

Lady Musgrave Island

You won’t find any glamping tents on this island – or any tents provided at all for that matter… but for the incredible price of $6.50 you’ll be happy to bring your own.

The tiny coral cay of Lady Musgrave Island is nature at its absolute finest – that’s why National Parks grant a total of 40 camping permits (at the ridiculous cost of $6.50 per night) at any one time.

About 3000 acres of coral lagoon become your backyard with stunning coral bombies, home to manta rays, turtles, dolphins and hundreds of mysterious reef creatures.

The island is as minimalistic as possible – and there are no facilities so you must bring everything on and off with you. This option is for the serious campers, but offers natures greatest rewards in return for a little roughing-it.

ladymusgraveisland.com

ECO STAY

If you’re conscious of your footprint, and not just the kind you leave in the sand, then travel to the Whitsundays and make Elysian Retreat your destination for the night (or a few).

The first 100-per-cent solar-powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef, Elysian is built around creating and savouring life’s special moments in their private cove on Long Island.

There are 10 beachfront villas, each with high cathedral ceilings, uninterrupted ocean views and a hammock out front to rest in after snorkelling or kayaking around the island.

elysianretreat.com.au

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