Six of the best coral reefs
1 Ningaloo Reef, WA
Just off the coast of WA’s Cape Range peninsula, and about 1055km north of Perth, this park is home to the largest fringing coral reef in Australia. Swim among whale sharks, the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef’s most famous regular visitors, when they arrive in April for the coral-spawning season.
2 Rottnest Island, Marine Reserve, WA
Scalyfins, nudibranchs and Western Australian dhufish are just some of the many marine creatures gracing the reefs near Rottnest Island, 25km off the coast of Perth. Snorkel at the coral communities near one of the island’s secluded beaches, or join a guided diving tour to see the surrounding reef’s treasures.
3 Solitary Islands Marine Park, NSW
More than 550 species of reef fish, 90 species of hard coral and 600 species of mollusc have been identified in the 72200ha park. The first marine park established in NSW, Solitary Islands is home to a range of habitats – open ocean, estuaries, beaches and subtidal reefs.
4 Ribbon Number Three Reef, QLD
Located in the north of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, this 1100ha outer-shelf ribbon reef has benefited from its remoteness. At Steve’s Bommie dive site you can see minke whales, barracuda and batfish between June and August, and other species like whitetip reef sharks and blue-stripe snapper year-round.
5 Green Island National Park, QLD
Just 27km offshore from Cairns, this is a popular place to explore reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Snorkel near the fragile, branching corals in the sheltered lagoon, or see almost 200 varieties of hard coral and more than 100 types of soft coral from a glass-bottomed boat.
6 Gove Peninsula, NT
Inshore areas of this remote locale are not for snorkellers – saltwater crocs make the sport a dangerous exercise – but divers will find plenty of coral communities to explore in offshore reefs surrounding the Peninsula, 650km east of Darwin.
Also see our guides to 10 of the best snorkelling spots and 10 of the best dive sites in Australia.