The Great Barrier Reef is made of many types of reefs, from offshore bommies that rise from the depths like undersea skyscrapers, to atolls where rings of coral surround placid lagoons. The Ribbon Reefs are another unique formation—long, narrow ridges of coral running parallel to the shore. They act like breakwaters, providing calm seas on their western sides, facing the Australian mainland.
The Ribbon Reefs run for around 50 miles (80 kilometers), with a total of 10 ribbon reefs named by number, from south to north. Remote Lizard Island marks the northern reaches of this section of the Great Barrier Reef—the final landmark before sailing on to the Cape York Peninsula and the Torres Strait.
The greatest highlights of the Ribbon Reefs are found below the water, where divers and snorkelers can explore undersea gardens bursting with corals, tropical fish, sharks and much more. Topside explorers should keep watch from the ship for dolphins and whales, especially during the months of June and July, when dwarf minke whales arrive from Antarctica to birth their young.