From Here To Antipodes

Heron Island

Aug 10, 2001
Outside Magazine

In FNQ (Far North Queensland), the most popular jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef, the holiday season is hot, sticky, slow, and wracked with rains. Which is why you need to head to the reef's southernmost reaches for more temperate climes—well, 90-degree days with the occasional tropical sprinkle for relief.
At the southern tip of the coral expanse lies Heron Island, regarded as one of the world's top ten diving spots. Seen from the air, Heron is a green dot at the tip of an immense triangle of coral. Swim out a short way with your snorkel and you'll be surrounded by a fluorescent parade of 800 species of fish, and more white-tip reef sharks than you can poke a fin at (luckily, they're too well fed to bother with swimmers). For experienced divers, a dozen major sites are within 15 minutes, and as a Christmas bonus, December and January are hatching months for green turtles.

Heron is reached by helicopter or catamaran from Gladstone. Room rates start with the budget Turtle Cabins ($125 per person, including all meals) to $230 per person for a deluxe Beach House, but the best deal is the Heron Suites ($185 per person, all-inclusive), from which you stroll straight out onto the white sands and into the water. For all three, book through P&O Resort Holidays (in the U.S.: 800-255-9849).

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