Took a snorkel boat from Shute Harbor to the Hardy Reef, over 100 kilometers from the mainland. After enjoying the underwater wonders , we had a good view of the cays draining with the low tide as we were leaving. We could see the top of the reef stretching for miles. A river of water gushed from the cay like a river as the lagoon drained.
To get to the outer reef of the Great Barrier Reef is not easy. From Port Douglas, it takes about 1.5 hours to travel to the outer reef. Magnetic Island has wonderful snorkeling, but it is well inside the outer reef. From Airlie Beach, you can take a 37-meter, wave-piercing catamaran for three hours through the Whitsunday Islands all the way out, over 100 kilometers to the Hardy Reef. It is rather commercial with a pontoon playground, helicopter flights overhead, scuba divers below and lifeguards buzzing around in dinghy boats. But it is full of fish and coral. And the water is clear.