Scuba & Free Diving on Heron Island, The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef. The mere mention of its name brings shivers down the spine of every diver. The thought of sparkling clear waters and shining coral reefs teaming with tropical fish makes even the most novice of scuba divers drool and pine for a single dive in this paradise. With over 2,900 coral reefs and 900 islands, the Great Barrier Reef offers some of the most spectacular diving in the world. The clear Australian waters are known to have exceptional visibility, sometimes up to 35 meters.
Snorkelers and scuba divers alike would be hard-pressed to find a bad dive spot among the thousands to choose from. With such a vast seascape of luxurious dive spots, the hardest question is where to dive? One suggestion is Heron Island. A remote, unspoiled island situated 89 kms off the coast of Queensland, Heron Island offers divers a once in a lifetime vacation filled with serene accommodations, fabulous food and, of course, incredible diving.
Of all the dive spots in the world, few stand up to Heron Island. In fact, Heron Bommie was one of the infamous Jacques Cousteau’s favourite dive spots. Accessible only by seaplane, boat or helicopter, Heron Island is a diver’s paradise. With only one tiny hotel on the island boasting its own dive shop and dive masters, seclusion is key. To get there, the boat trip takes about 2 hours from Gladstone Marina on the mainland and costs $64 AUD. It can be quite bumpy and is not for those who suffer from sea sickness. Seaplane or helicopter, both rides lasting about 30 minutes from the Gladstone Airport Terminal, will offer the best views of the reef from above as well as provide an opportunity for whale watching if the season is right. Australia by Seaplane offers charters from $349 AUD and a Marine Helicopter Charter starts at $449 AUD. All costs are per person and reservations can be made through the Heron Island Resort by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Designated as a World Heritage-Listed Marine National Park, Heron Island is resplendent with wildlife both above and below sea level. On land, bird watchers can marvel year-round at the abundance of birds, one species being the herons for which the island is named. Aside from birds, nature lovers will get a true treat during the winter when sea turtles flock to the island for breeding.
Protected by the government, sea turtles leave thousands of eggs in the sand, eggs which hatch in droves beginning every January. Whale watching is also prominent in the winter months and it is the lucky diver that will get an up-close look at these majestic mammals from the water.
Day diving on Heron Island is truly a spiritual experience. After waking to a breakfast piled high with fresh seafood from the surrounding waters, the expert team of Dive Master’s take boatloads of guests to the edge of the reef for their first taste of world-class diving. Within 15 minutes of launch, the boat hitches to a permanent line buoyed near one of the 21 designated dive sites. Many of the dives along the reef are drift dives, leaving divers at a starting point where they drift along the current to a final pickup point.
No matter which site you dive, on any given day the waters are filled with eagle rays, manta rays, white-tipped reef sharks, grey sharks, sea turtles, nudibranchs, barracuda, cod, and a whole other host sea life. The gamut of over 1,500 tropical fish species is beyond description and is only something that can be experienced firsthand. This is one of the few other sites in the world that will take your breath away and make you believe in miracles.
For diver’s looking to earn their night diving stripes, Heron Island is the perfect place. There, the underwater world takes on a whole new level in the dark as divers glide past resting sharks, hidden shrimp in tiny wall caves, squid and the local Morray eels. Divers must have 10 dives under their belt and to qualify.
Heron Island Resort offers everything you need for the perfect dive vacation wrapped up in a neat and tiny package. For more information on Heron Island, you can visit their website at heronisland.com.