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Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

North Richland...
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10 posts
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Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

We will be in Perth late June and Sydney in early July. We would like to visit one of these reefs. Since it will be winter, I am unsure which would be a better trip......Ningaloo from Perth or GBR from Sydney. Any info about visiting the reefs in winter would be appreciated.

Edited: 8:42 pm, January 19, 2012
Adelaide, Australia
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51 reviews
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1. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

Well for a start June/July is THE time to visit the reefs as both are in the tropics and suffer from hot, humid, wet and possibly windy weather in the summer months.

Re which is best I find it hard to say GBR has very developed tourism infrastructure and is bordered by rainforest, swaying palm trees etc - the perfect picture of tropical seas.

Ningaloo is borderd by red sand desert and has quite limited tourism infrastructure.

I like Ningaloo better because i think its unique whereas the GBR is similar to lots of tropical places you can see in theworld.

IME snorkeling on both is great - but with GBR you have to go offshore whereas at Ningaloo you can snorkel right off the beach. Also at Ningaloo you may see whale sharks in June/july.

Edited: 9:10 pm, January 19, 2012
North Richland...
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10 posts
7 reviews
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2. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

Thanks so much for the reply....we were leaning toward Ningaloo from the reading I had done. The water temps allow for snorkeling in winter? It sounds cold..... I am a novice but learning.

Colorado
Destination Expert
for Western Australia
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3. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

We visited Ningaloo in June...the water was ice cold and the sea conditions pretty rough, but for all I know it could be like that year round. There was also some major flooding which forced us to make a ~300 km detour. Fortunately, there was another road, but that's not always the case in NW WA.

Nozzie's comparion between the two is spot on. I'd add "desolate and isolated" to the Ningaloo description though.

From Coral Bay you can just pop into the water as mentioned above. From Exmouth, you'd need to take a boat. June is getting late for whale sharks, so if that's your main focus, I'd suggest doing a whale shark tour from Exmouth, as the whales migrate north.

Due to the limited accommodation up north, you really need to plan well and make your bookings in advance. June is high season.

Edited: 11:54 pm, January 19, 2012
Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
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4. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

Another vote for Ningaloo - its definitely isolated & remote but very beautiful. Its totally different to the GBR as its more unique with the desert next door. As mentioned Ningaloo is fab for just being able to swim / snorkel off the beach.

Accommodation is very limited around the region so you will need to book ahead to avoid any disappointment.

Getting to Ningaloo can also be more expensive than flying to Cairns - plus depending where you are flying from ? it can take additional time.

GBR region is also wonderful especially if you want to combine a few other attractions into your itinerary. ie.. Daintree National Park / Cape Tribulation / Port Douglas.

Western Australia
7 posts
5. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

I don't want to make your decision harder, but I prefer GBR - amazing coral and beautiful rainforests! yes, it is touristy, but the coral at Ningaloo is sadly more bleached in recent years. Can't beat the colour or the sheer size of the Grear Barrier Reef. Ningaloo is a beautiful place though and very chilled out. Wherever you go you'll have a lovely time though :)

North Richland...
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10 posts
7 reviews
5 helpful votes
6. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

Thanks to all. Did anyone go to either of the reefs and not snorkel. I thinks the water will be too cold for some of us to get in the water. I am wondering if there is anyway to get enjoy the reefs without actually snorkeling. Has anyone taken a glass bottom boat ride? etc?

Colorado
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for Western Australia
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296 reviews
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7. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

I didn't snorkel at Ningaloo in June - water was too cold for me. I'm not really a water person anyway, so that's not saying much. Spouse did the whale shark dive in a 3 mil wetsuit.

We spent some time at the Coral Bay boat dock just gazing into the water. Saw a pretty amazing assortment of fish and didn't even have to get wet. I'd imagine a glass bottom boat (if available) would be fantastic.

Edited: 6:16 pm, January 24, 2012
Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
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8. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

Hi,

We also hired a glass bottom boat at Coral Bay - it was heaps of fun ! ..just be prepared to get a little wet.

Washington DC...
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15,920 posts
310 reviews
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9. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

Hmmm. Well, we have been to the GBR twice...from Port Douglas one June and from Lizard Island one September. In each case, the water temp was fine but now that I use a shorty wet suit in Hawaii I would have been even more comfy! I thought the GBR was spectacular, with the hard and soft corals, giant clams, etc.

We went to Ningaloo in March 2010. The water was fine (we did have the shorty wet suits, which we use for sun protection...the water was not cold at all). I thought the reef areas were good but the water was not so clear as we'd remembered at GBR and in Hawaii..it was nutrient rich (hence the whale sharks and mantas) but the visibility was not so good as we'd wish. That said, it was not bad, just not pellucid.

Which to choose? Hard to say. Next time we are in Australia in winter we will try to go back to GBR. But if you have been to Polynesia, Ningaloo might be a neat change of scene.

Edited: 6:21 pm, January 31, 2012
Perth, Australia
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243 reviews
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10. Re: Ningaloo Reef vs Great Barrier Reef

If you decide to go to Ningaloo, I would recommend staying in Exmouth as there is more accomm choice, other attractions and even a few places to eat out if you choose. Have a look at the Turquoise Bay reports:

tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g488342…

You could do a day trip (150 ks) from Exmouth to Coral Bay - it has the advantage that the reef is literally only a tennis ball throw offshore instead of Gt Barrier Reef which is a 1 hour trip out, with the associated expense - cost us over $100 each several years ago. Worth it when we got there...

Still whatever you decide, both should be good in June.