You can snorkel right off the beach or go on a snorkelling trip to see more of the reefs in the surrounding area. There are over 30 dive sites around the island and most of them are within15 minutes by boat so 3 dives a day are possible with night diving available as well. Most dives off the shore are only 18 metres, making it great for all levels of divers but deep diving enthusiasts can head a little further out for some excellent wall diving.
The fringing reef of Heron Island is home to 900 of the 1500 different fish species and 72% of all coral species on the Great Barrier Reef, making this an incredible location for sea life diversity. Big schools of fish are abundant along with many types of sharks, bull rays, mantas, turtles, barracudas and little stuff like nudibranchs, scorpion fish and puffer fish.
Some of the best dive sites are North Bommie where it’s likely you’ll see manta rays and turtles at the cleaning station, Coral Cascades for a shallow macro photography paradise, Coral Grotto or Ned’s Bommie to see different types of sharks such as reef sharks, the Wobbegong and the very rare Epaulette Shark. 3 Rocks is a great drift dive. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful coral and fish on all of your dives.
A coral cay located 72km northeast of Gladstone, Heron Island is 800 metres long and 300 metres wide at its widest point. Surrounded by incredible reef, this is an island to spend days snorkelling and diving in the crystal clear waters.
You can get there by boat from Gladstone, a two hour trip costing $100 each way. You can fly from Gladstone or for an extra special trip, catch a helicopter but this is a little expensive at $370 per person one way. There is a boat or flight every day.
There is only one resort on Heron Island and no camping is available so this isn’t a trip to do on a budget. The resort is about $400 per night for two people all inclusive for a standard room; you’ll pay a little more for a room with a sea view. The resort also offers free guided reef walks and snorkelling lessons and you can use their non motorised water sports equipment for free.
This amazing place is waiting for you to explore, another one of Australia’s special Great Barrier Reef islands.
Imagine your own private island, surrounded by powdery white sand and the most beautiful pristine reefs you’ve ever seen and this is what you’ll experience on Wilson Island. The little sister of Heron Island is the ultimate luxury castaway experience imaginable… at a price.
The accommodation is a luxury tent built for two, right on the beach. With just 6 tents available that means only a maximum of 12 people will be on the island at any one time. But at a whopping $1100 a night per tent, you might find that you are the only ones here. This price includes all food and drinks as well as any activity available, which isn’t many due to the remote location. The food and wine is an experience in itself! Transport is only available by boat from Heron Island and the resort will organise this for you for a small fee of $200 per person (free transfer with a stay of 4 nights or more).
The most special thing to do is explore the surrounding reefs, which are right off the beach and home the most amazing coral and fish diversity on the planet. The clear, crystal waters are teaming with life and on special occasions, when the season is right you may experience turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs, or babies hatching and scrambling into the water. What a special site this would be.
Other than that, you can take a walk around the island and do some bird watching or relax in a hammock and read a book. Life’s so simple and relaxed on Wilson Island that you’ll never want to leave! It was voted one of the best islands on the Great Barrier Reef. The island closes for a month at the end of January in order to let the nesting birds have some peace.
Be sure to have travel insurance as evacuation from the island is very expensive. There is no phone coverage or internet either so this really will be getting away from it all. If you ever have the privilege of visiting Wilson Island, we’d love to hear about your experience.
(By Kelly Luckman)