The Great Barrier Reef is at the top of the scale when it comes to underwater experiences. One of the most accessible places for divers to base their reef experience is the World-Heritage-listed Heron Island, a two-hour boat ride from Gladstone.
They have been welcoming visitors since the early 1930s and it is now attracting the attention of divers from all round the world.
It is certainly not over-dived and the fish are almost tame. There are around 30 sites within a 15-minute boat ride from the jetty and one of the most photogenic of the islands is the Heron Bommie.
At around 20m there is no shortage of action and more than 70 percent of the reef's species can be found in the waters there. You can swim with wobbegong sharks, white-tip reef sharks, eagle and manta rays, moray eels, parrotfish, sweetlip and hussars amongst staghorn coral banks, overhangs and several tunnels.
The Gorgonia Hole is a popular site for novice divers. The fish are quite used to divers and there is an excellent variety of small, soft coral there. Further east are larger fan corals and staghorn colonies.
South-west of Heron is Masthead Island, the second largest of the nine vegetated cays in the Capricorn group.
You can join a guided reef walk to learn about the ecology of the reef or snorkel off the beach to enjoy the colourful marine life just below the surface.
The P&O Heron Island Resort has a great range of accommodation suitable for singles, couples and families. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Pandanus Lounge and Baillie's Bar has an entertainment lounge, dance floor, mezzanine level library and outdoor terrace. The Wistari Room shows newly-released films and has nature presentations.
Camping is permitted from April to October and there is a limit of 50 campers at any one time.