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Sydney or Great Barrier reef

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Hi there
I am attending a conference in Sydney from 15-19 April. I have a plane ticket into Sydney landing on 9 April. I am a keen (but not very good, although I am PADI certified) diver, but my passion is snorkling. I will be traveling alone, and since this is technically not a holiday, I do not have too much cash to spend on the trip.

I would love to go to the great barrier reef. My question is: How feasible is this and is there a way to do it affordably? I assume I would need to fly there and abck from Sydney. This seems to cost between $200 and $300 one way. Once at the reef, where is the best places to stay? Would a live aboard be possible for two days, one night. And me being a lone traveler would that be possible?

Are there nice snorkling spots closer to Sydney? Are there nice scenic coastal drives close to Sydney?

Should I bother flying around in the 5 days I have or should I rather see Sydney and do a day trip. And if so where? I am more keen on beaches than on the Blue Mountains. I am not so much interested in swimming, since I can do this at home; but would be keen on snorkling or scenic beaches - rocks and cliffs and the likes.

I am used to traveling, also on my own, but have never been to Australia and do not know how easy it would be. Is it advisable to rent a car or use public transport for trips outside of Sydney.

Help much appreciated.

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