Paddle

Hinchinbrook Island

Great Barrier Reef, without the masses     Photo: Larry Mulvehille/Corbis

You have to see the Great Barrier Reef. So does every other tourist in Australia. Luckily, there’s a better way: head to Hinchinbrook Island, a 152-square-mile national park in northeast Australia surrounded by the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The only accommodation, Hinchinbrook Island Resort, remains closed due to cyclone damage. Instead head to Mission Beach, 40 miles up the coast. That’s the starting point for a five-day trip with Coral Sea Kayaking, during which you’ll explore Hinchinbrook’s wild rainforest and granite peaks, watching for dolphins and saltwater crocs and camping on sandy beaches ($1,640). To see the GBR, catch a boat from Mission Beach to snorkel or scuba dive on the outer reef (snorkeling, $169 per day; two dives, $264; calypsodive.com). The trip out takes only an hour—half the length of the commute from bigger hubs like Cairns.

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