Heron Island Snorkeling restrictions

Old Oct 8th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Heron Island Snorkeling restrictions

We are avid snorkelers and are considering visiting solely Heron Island because we have heard that the reefs there are in very good condition. However, we have also heard that swimming out on your own to the reef edge to snorkel is prohibited; instead, you can only go to the reef edge in a tour boat - which not only costs extra but only goes for set time each day.

Can anyone who has visited Heron Island recently let us know if this true and if these restrictions are enforced?

We are also considering Lady Elliot Island -does any one know about the snorkeling there?

Thnak you in advance for your responses.
resipsaloquitur is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:01 PM
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All coral cay islands can have strong currents, that if your not experienced and with a buddy, you can easily get swept away (depending if the currents are strong on that particular day). Personally, I would listen carefully to what island diving instructors tell you. Before the new Hervey Bay airport was constructed, the reception area for Lady Elliot island had a map of the island, showing which dive sites were open for diving, pending which currents were running at the time.
Last time I dived on Lady Musgrave Island (part of the Capricorn/Bunker Group), a few snorkellers had trouble getting back to the dive boat, because of strong currents.
Have a great time at Heron Island, you will either love it or hate it. If you like migratory birds, nesting turtles, in otherwords mother nature, than this is the island for you.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 08:37 AM
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We visited Heron in 2001 and absolutely loved it. The snorkeling from the dive boat is amazing. The boats go out twice daily weather permitting. I can't imagine going out to the reef edge and snorkeling alone, I would think it would be quite dangerous as the previous poster suggested. No one is keeping tabs on you so I suppose you could do it, but the boat would be a much safer option. It's not that expensive and they will take you somewhere different each time.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 02:42 PM
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We also are avid snorkelers. After 4 nights (Cairns to Cairns) on the Coral Princess II out on the Great Barrier Reef, we went to Heron Isl, Sep 2004. We had been spoiled snorkeling-wise out on the GBR, but Heron definately does not rank up very high on my places to go snorkeling. Nature wise it has a lot going for it, like 70,000 nesting terns and scores of other critters. But snorkelers paradise it is not.
There is a little beach, I think called Shark's Bay where you could enter and free snorkel, but the water was milky, current strong, and the sea rough. Out a ways there was some reef with rays, turtles etc.. not too bad. There were several rays about a foot of water right at water's edge, almost stepped on one.
To get to the big reef though, at a different part of the island, you needed to take the excursion offered by the hotel. The only way. That got you out there where you need to be for the really good snorkeling in deeper water along a reef wall that was pretty dynamic. The water was still milky.
It was a fairly small group as I recall. All in all, Heron was a great place to relax and unwind, great food, excellent naturalists (reef walk with a naturalist was terrific), but it would not be my destination if I craved snorkeling and wasn't going to get it any other place during my trip.
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Old Oct 15th, 2006, 07:46 PM
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I forgot to mention that don't wait too long for your snorkeling trip. It was reported by scientists on our oz televisions the other night, that due to global warming, our coral reefs, will be subject to coral bleaching, and that means there is a possibility that we could lose our coral reefs (GBR included) within the next 20 years, a scarey thought.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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If I was going to snorkel the southern GBR I would chose Fitzroy Reef Lagoon based only on what I have read and heard. Still need a boat though.
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Old Oct 19th, 2006, 09:34 PM
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As tropo said, the strong currents are the reason why you shouldn't be out on your own to the reef's edge. Someone else said that the water was all "milky" but it may have been after a storm or something...that person went in September which is early Spring so it's not that far of a stretch.

I went to Heron Island in July and it was gorgeous. If you're worried about cost, this is not the place for you. Heron Island is an all-inclusive property which includes 3 meals a day and you're basically either going to do a lot of paid activities or none at all. My husband went on the snorkeling trip and he said that it was amazing. Depending on the time you go, you may hear the humpback whale calls underwater.

The other problem if you're avid snorkelers is that when the tide is out, the water receeds back so far that you can only do reef walks - but they are also very cool and the life there is amazing.

If you can, take the ferry one way and the helicopter back - it is amazing to see the reef from above.

The seafood buffet is amazing too, try to stay over a Saturday night...
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