Heron Island isn't just fun in the sun with sunsets and swaying palm trees … this is a haven for the nature lovers.
Most people know about the complex, diverse and beautiful ecosystem which makes the Great Barrier Reef so great, but we'd like to show you a place where you can interact with the natural environment with minimal impact on that delicate balance.
Heron Island is an 18ha island in the Capricorn Group at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, 70km off Gladstone on the Queensland coast.
Heron is World Heritage-listed and is a true coral cay which formed more than 8500 years ago. Cays evolve by debris made up of coral, shells, calcareous algae and single cell forms building up over many years. They range from pure soft coral sands to shingle, rubber and boulders. Rainforest, grassy, herbaceous and mangrove plant communities grow on the cays and are critical as nesting areas for birds and turtles.
Green Island, Lady Elliot and Heron are the only three islands which are on the reef rather than in it. Heron is surrounded by 24 square kilometres of reef and you can step right off the beach for wonderful snorkelling, reef walking and some of the best diving in the world.
Soft white sand and gleaming blue waters are safe havens for thousands of turtles, birds and an amazing range of marine life. From December to April, green and loggerhead turtles return to the island to lay their eggs and there are nightly viewings of their nests. Later in the season you can see the hatchlings scrambling down the beach to the water.
The island has a P&O resort which offers a reef experience for guests which, the operators say, is unlike anything else. Buildings are no taller than the trees and there are no day visitors wandering about. It is sophisticated yet casual, with an emphasis on exploring, discovering and enjoying the abundance of natural attractions.
Guided beach walks teach visitors about the reef's unique ecology while snorkelling has you face-to-face with an array of colourful marine life. There is a choice of wonderful dive sites, and if you've always wanted to learn to dive, what better place?
Accommodation is also varied. There is one beach house set in a grove of trees with private boardwalk to the beach. It is air-conditioned, has a separate bedroom with large en-suite, expansive living area, desk and fully stocked mini bar.
Point Suites have premium beachfront position with uninterrupted views of the Reef and sunsets. They have en-suite and separate dressing room. Heron Beachside Suites have absolute beach frontage and villa-style inclusions. Double glass doors fill the room with natural light and connect the bedroom and living area to an outdoor balcony.
Reef Suites offer filtered reef and water views through a canopy of trees. The living area extends to a balcony or garden setting and interiors are light-filled, modern and comfortable.
Turtle Rooms have a garden setting and are a short walk from the beach. There are two in a block and each features a large deck and outdoor area.
Three meals are served daily in the restaurant. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style and dinner is a three course table affair or themed buffet. Picnic hampers are available for outings.
The Pandanus Lounge has uninterrupted views of the reef, cocktail bar, entertainment lounge, dance floor and a mezzanine level library. Baillie's Bar opens to an outdoor terrace and is just right for pre- and after- dinner drinks.
The Wistari Room, which is air-conditioned, is used for evening nature presentations and latest release films.
Complemintary activities include daily interpretative reef, island ecology and birdlife walks, turtle viewing, star gazing, wildlife presentations, picnic hampers, snorkelling lessons in the pool, day and night tennis, workshops, research station walks, films under the stars and nightly entertainment. There are other activities for which charges apply.