Top 10 Great Barrier Reef Events

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When’s the best time to see the Great Barrier Reef? When one of our top 10 events are happening of course. Duh!

The best way to maximise your Great Barrier Reef trip is by adding an extra couple of annual leave days to the long weekends coming up, or timing your trip to attend one of the awesome events listed below (as well as ticking off the reef’s other must-dos like snorkelling, diving and marine animal spotting, of course).

Here are the Top 10 Great Barrier Reef events you need to add to your social calendar now.

Reef2Beach Longboard Classic

When: 26-28 February 2016
Where: Agnes Water, Gladstone on the Southern Great Barrier Reef
What: Get out of your beach comfort zone and head to Queensland’s most northerly surf beach, Agnes Water for the iconic Reef2Beach Longboard Classic. Watch the locals show the travelling surfers how it’s done and learn to surf yourself while you’re there.

Captain Cook 1770 Festival

Captain Cook 1770 Festival | Great Barrier Reef Events

When: 21-22 May 2016
Where: Town of 1770, Gladstone on the Southern Great Barrier Reef
What: Want to know what Captain Cook was thinking after his ship, The Endeavour, ran aground on a Great Barrier Reef shoal? The highlight of the Captain Cook 1770 Festival is the re-enactment of Cook’s landing at 1770 to undertake ship repairs. Check out the markets, family-friendly activities, fireworks and this super cute coastal town while you’re at it.

Great Whitehaven Beach Run

Great Whitehaven Beach Run | Great Barrier Reef Events

When: 26 June 2016
Where: Whitehaven Beach, The Whitsundays
What: If getting fit and healthy is your New Year’s resolution, why not plan to treat yourself with a reward halfway through the year by competing in the Great Whitehaven Beach Run (and take a holiday while you’re at it – you deserve it after all that training). You won’t find a better looking run in the world! This is the second event on the Hamilton Island Endurance Series calendar. Other events include the Hilly Marathon (May), Hamilton Island Triathlon (Nov) and Whitehaven Beach Swim (Nov).

Airlie Beach Race Week

Airlie Beach Race Week | Top 10 Great Barrier Reef events

When: 12-19 August 2016
Where: Airlie Beach, The Whitsundays
What:  Every week of the year, Airlie Beach has its friendly, fun in the sun vibe down pat but during Airlie Beach Race Week you can expect that vibe to be maxed out! This is a colourful week of sailing all day, evening beers back at the marina, and a chock-a-block full social calendar that’s not to be missed.

AUDI Hamilton Island Race Week

When: 20-27 August 2016
Where: Hamilton Island, The Whitsundays
What:  Directly after Airlie Beach Race Week, report to Hamilton Island for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. This is another week of epic sailing with a foodie and fashion edge. Some might even say there’s more action on the island than out of the Great Barrier Reef!

Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival

Mackay Beach Horse Racing Festival | Great Barrier Reef Events

When: 25-28 August 2016
Where: Mackay Harbour Beach, The Mackay Region
What: Here in Queensland we have a quirky habit of hosting our horse racing events outside of the traditional tracks in favour of something a bit more exciting (and picturesque). The Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival is the coastal answer to the famous Birdsville Races in Outback Queensland. Other than a beach wedding there aren’t a lot of other reasons out there to frock up for a day at the beach!

Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week

Magnetic Island Race Week | Top 10 Great Barrier Reef events

When: 1-6 September 2016
Where: Magnetic Island, Townsville North Queensland
What: More sailing! This time in sunny Townsville. For the non-sailors, Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week has a social calendar of fun activities to help you explore every inch of Magnetic Island while the sailors do their thing.

Palm Cove Reef Feast

When: 6-9 October 2016
Where: Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland
What: Food lovers will devour this event. The Palm Cove Reef Feast is a three-day party where local chefs create imaginative tastes and meals using local produce, including the freshest seafood from the Great Barrier Reef. And if the food’s not enough to tempt you, the palm-fringed backdrop of Palm Cove will.

Great Barrier Reef Swim – Heron Island

Great Barrier Reef Swim | Top 10 Great Barrier Reef events

When: 3-7 November 2016
Where: Heron Island, Southern Great Barrier Reef
What: For ocean swimmers, Heron Island offers a unique event that comes with its own set of challenges. Imagine swimming on the Great Barrier Reef and trying to not get distracted by the clownfish that wants to say hello! Don’t worry, once the swim races and swim coaching clinics of the Great Barrier Reef Swim are complete you’ll have plenty of time to snorkel back around and say hello to the marine wildlife.

Great Barrier Reef Marathon

Great Barrier Reef Marathon

When: 6 November 2016
Where: Port Douglas, Tropical North Queensland
What: Challenge yourself with a number of running events set against gorgeous scenery during the Great Barrier Reef Marathon. Ease in by taking on one of the shorter, flat runs or if you’re up for it, you could tackle the 74km JCU Ultra Marathon through Mowbray and Kuranda National Parks. There will be hills and creeks to navigate! Fun!

If this sounds right up your alley, here are 9 more triathlon, marathon and endurance events in Queensland to train for.

What’s your favourite event on the Great Barrier Reef?

  • Dean Philpot

    Kaylah – Thanks ever so much for creating this post, I have came back a couple of times now. I really enjoy this list and hope to attend many of these events and more when I move down under in the near future to pursue my passion of working with coral reefs :-)