Great Barrier Reef Places

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Hamilton Island

Scuba Diving

Hamilton Island Dive & Snorkel Tours. If you're keen on exploring the reef, Hamilton Island can organize everything from PADI-accredited courses to snorkeling trips to Whitehaven Beach and local reefs, and full-day cruises to outer Great Barrier Reef pontoon Reefworld. A catamaran excursion to the outer Great Barrier Reef (A$225) allows up to four hours on the Reefworld pontoon at Hardy Reef, which is ample time for one or two dives (minimum age 12). The fare includes a buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea, snorkelling gear, wet suits, a semisubmersible tour, and use of Reefworld's underwater viewing chamber, waterslide, and facilities. The resort also organizes thrice-weekly, full-day circumnavigations of Whitsunday Island (A$165) by rigid inflatable speedboat (RIB); during the trip you can snorkel the fringing reef off Chalkie's Beach and local coral gardens, explore Whitehaven Beach, and anchor off Hill Inlet for a trek to the summit for stupendous Whitsundays views. Hamiton Island Marina, Front St., next to general store, Hamilton Island, QLD, 4803. 07/4946–9888 Dive Shop; 07/4946–8305 Tour Bookings Desk. www.hamiltonisland.com.au.

Cruise Whitsundays Reefworld. On the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef sits magnificent Hardy Reef Lagoon, and within it sits Reefworld, a state-of-the-art pontoon around which you can snorkel and dive along easy coral trails. There's a large underwater viewing chamber, a spacious sun deck, change rooms and fresh-water showers, a kid-friendly snorkeling area, and a child-minding service. There's even a massage hut and accommodation for Reefsleep guests. There are many ways to explore the underwater environs: take a semisubmersible coral-viewing tour, guided snorkel safari (A$45), or an introductory (A$119) or certified dive (A$99) with gear included. A scenic heli-flight over famed Heart Reef starts from A$135 per person. Depart Hamilton Island Airport and Airport Jetty, Palm Valley Way, Hamilton Island, QLD, 4802. 07/4946–4662 Cruise Whitsundays; 07/4969–9599 Hamilton Island Air. www.cruisewhitsundays.com or www.helireef.com.au. A$225 Cruise Whitsundays Reefworld day-trip; A$399 HI Air/Cruise Whitsundays fly-cruise.

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