Heron Island is the perfect spot to explore the Great Barrier Reef from as it’s one of the few islands located right on the reef. With coral and marine life to discover directly off the beach – and no mobile reception or wi-fi connectivity (except for a very slow paid option in the resort bar) – this is the ideal destination to connect with nature and disconnect from the pressures of modern life. You can also stay at Heron Island Resort. Don’t worry, you won’t need a Heron Island map to explore the island. You can walk around it in 40 minutes and there’s not much there except the resort.
Heron Island is located approximately 90km off the Queensland coast and easily accessible by ferry from Gladstone or you can take a seaplane flight with spectacular views of the reef. Heron Island Resort is the only place to stay on the island. It is a guests-only resort so there are no day-trippers invading the island each day. Three to four days will give you time to experience the reef, get close to nature and disconnect from life for a while. It also allows time to reschedule activities if the weather isn’t the best for a day or two.
1. Heron Island snorkelling and diving
Heron Island is one the best snorkelling and diving spots on the planet with no fewer than 21 snorkelling/dive sites within 15 minutes of the island. If you’re thinking about taking up diving or just want to see what it is like, Heron Island is the place to do it as there are some beginner dive sites which are truly spectacular. If diving is not your thing, you can sign up for a free snorkel lesson in the resort pool to learn some handy tips and tricks to get the most out of your ocean adventures. Marine magic is never far away so grab a mask and fins and dive in. Just remember to bring your own snorkel gear if you’re staying more than a couple of days as the hire fees can quickly add up, especially if you’re travelling as a family.
2. Heron Island activities
Heron Island packs a punch when it comes to nature, with unique sights available all year round. From migrating whales to nesting sea birds and green turtles, there’s always something to see. You can explore the island at your leisure or take one of the many free tours on offer, from reef walks to bird spotting and turtle watching trips.
3. Heron Island Research Station
There has been a marine research facility on the island since the 1950s. Daily (free) tours of the Heron Island Research Centre take visitors on an amazing journey into how the reef works and how science is helping it to survive. If you have ever wanted to get up close and personal with a starfish or pat a sea hare, this is your chance. Don’t know what a sea hare is? You’ll have to visit Heron Island and find out.
4. What the sunrise or sunset (or both)
There is a real magic to sunrises and sunsets over the water. Even if you’re not a morning person, it’s easy to stroll the 10 meters or so to the beach to catch the first ray of sunshine. Depending on the time of year you might get to see mother turtles laying their eggs or young turtles hatching and making their way down to the water. Alternately, you could always grab a chilled glass of wine at the bar and watch the sunset.
5. Heron Island with kids
Heron Island Resort is the ideal spot to go on holiday with older children as there is plenty to keep everyone in the family entertained, from snorkelling off the beach to helping baby turtles make it safely out to sea. With no high-speed wi-fi or in-room television, your kids might just be surprised at how much fun they have without them.
Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of Heron Island Resort.