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Find out what’s hot right now for some last minute winter sun breaks

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It's been a colourful week with the #RedSun hanging over us earlier in the week. So here are… instagram.com/p/BabPQqDHexh/
 
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Two incredible sights on two different sides of the world. #NorthernLights or #SouthernLightsinstagram.com/p/BaYhiaOnGMn/
 
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Ever thought about exploring Australia's Northern Territory? It's not all about #ayersrockinstagram.com/p/BaWhmrHHABu/
 
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Exciting times Kirsty! 😍😍😍 twitter.com/kirstyteasdale…
 
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Three beautiful sights, three incredible sunsets. We want to know, where you go for the… instagram.com/p/BaTg0kPnjPl/
 
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A soothing sight for Sunday, imagine the relaxing sounds at the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia for our #DailyEscape pic.twitter.com/RnYnyu6V0c
 
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We're off to Queensland's Rainbow Beach for today's #DailyEscape It's a way to go, but boy is it worth it! #Traveltwitter.com/i/web/status/9…
 
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Fancy heading to the Big Apple in style? Stay at the 5* Carlyle and start 2018 right! #DealOfTheDaytwitter.com/i/web/status/9…
 
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We've got that #FridayFeeling and thinking holidays! So where to this Winter? The sunshine of #Australia or the ma… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
 
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Playa Manuel Antonio in Costa Rica is our #DailyEscape today, with soft sands & idyllic views of lush greenery and… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
 
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Hans Christian Andersen put it well, don't you think? #Travel #TBT #TravelQuotes #LuxuryTravelinstagram.com/p/BaJMznmnlf4/
 
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#DealOfTheDay Save 60% at Sandals Barbados & experience luxury and romance staying in a Crystal Lagoon Suite! Call… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
 
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Here's some #WanderlustWednesday inspiration for you... Visit the surfer's paradise of Su Giudeu beach, you won't… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
 

Blog Authors

Clemmie

Clemmie

Victoria Hampton

Victoria Hampton

Kathy McLeman

Kathy McLeman

Ree Saunders

Ree Saunders

Marisa Thomas

Marisa Thomas

Jan Moys

Jan Moys

Mike Potter

Mike Potter

Nicola Chapman

Nicola Chapman

Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks

Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson

Dave Balow

Dave Balow

Anastasia Miari

Anastasia Miari

Steven Gyford

Steven Gyford

The Great 8 at the Barrier Reef

Today we turn our attention to Australia's east coast and the Great Barrier Reef, where there is unmatched biodiversity. In terms of global importance and natural worth, no other place on the planet comes even close and it needs to be seen to be believed.

The astonishing Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem, extending from deep waters to shallow areas and incorporating over 2900 separate coral reefs and houses an unimaginable range of creatures, each more fascinating than the last. This expansive area of reef is made of of 70 'bioregions' (or broad-scale habitats) each suitable for different plants and creatures to survive and thrive in. It is in these 'bioregions' that the "Great 8" iconic marine creatures exist and can all be encountered.

Clownfish

clownfish

Made famous by the film Finding Nemo, clownfish have become the 'poster boys' of the Great Barrier Reef thanks to their vibrant and recognisable orange and white scales. Graceful and appealing, clownfish can usually be found hiding amongst the stinging tentacles of anemones in sheltered reefs and shallow lagoons.

Sharks

reef shark

Possibly not what you wanted to see on this list, but sharks are commonplace in the warm waters off the Whitsundays, Cairns etc. Don't worry though, we're certainly not talking about the notorious Great White Shark here (they prefer the cold waters of the Southern Ocean!). Instead, what you'll encounter are far smaller species (usually reef sharks), ones which pose no threat whatsoever to divers and snorkellers. That doesn't mean that these sharks don't rule the roost though, these lone rangers are still top of the food chain around these parts!

Manta Rays

manta rays

One of the most recognisable creatures of the ocean, Manta Rays are the largest of all rays and boast a highly impressive wingspan (or finspan) which they use to full effect in navigating the Australia waters with the upmost style and grace. These gentle giants are mostly solitary creatures and, unlike its cousin the stingray, does not have a barb on its body. Manta Rays might not be the most beautiful sea creature you'll see at the barrier reef, but it is certainly amongst the most fascinating and approachable.

Maori Wrasse

maori wrasse

Meet your new best friend from the ocean! Highly personable and friendly, the Maori Wrasse love to play and follow you around in the depths of the ocean and it is this characteristic that can occasionally be its demise. Not only among the easiest of prey, it is also a notoriously tasty fish, which ensures that it is highly sought after. There is so much more to these big-boned fish though. They are considered romantic and can be found in solitary male-female pairs and are important in protecting the reef from sea hares and box fish which attack it. 

Potato Cod

potato cod

Large and robust, the potato cod can be fairly intimidating to look at, but any anxiety will soon fade away when you first approach these giant fish. Dive to the famous Cod Hole for the best place to see the potato cod and somewhere that you can see them every day. Witness the incredible sight of them being hand fed and swim with them, as they exhibit a mutual lack of fear with you by swimming centimetres away from you and other divers. 

Giant Clams

giant clam

Found everywhere on the Great Barrier Reef, these guys might come across as tough characters to you, but in truth they're really just big softies! Spending their days eating algae and looking good in a spectrum of colours on the seabed. Often brightly coloured and eye-catching, these clams come in a range of shapes and sizes and can live up to 100 years in the same spot at the bottom of the ocean.

Turtles

turtle

The reef is undoubtedly the turtle hub of the world, with six of the worlds' seven turtle species calling it home. Typically the most sought after creature for visitors, it's not difficult to catch a glimpse of a turtle or two here, as instinct draws them together each year for mating in the shallows and nesting on the shore of the islands around the Great Barrier Reef. Despite sightings being relatively common, all of these turtles are endangered and are reliant on help from the Queensland Turtle Conservation project for help.

Whales

whales

Despite its shallow waters, the Great Barrier Reef is actually the playground of choice for humpback whales and their calves. It is here that they arrive in the months of June - September, as they build up their and their calves' strength before returning to the impossibly colder waters of the Antarctic. Whale watching is done here in a safe and responsible manner in order to minimise human interference in the lives of the whales, whilst also providing a memorable and educational experience for visitors. Off of the waters of Cooktown in the Tropical North Queensland waters, you'll also find dwarf minke whales frolicking.
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