which island

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Apr 13th, 2008, 09:03 AM
  #1
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which island

I THINK I've narrowed it to two choices, but feel free to make other suggestions. We want to experience the GBR up close during our December trip to Australia. Want to do a little diving and a lot of snorkeling (preferrably off the shore). Can only afford a couple of days but -- Lizard Island or Orpheus?
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Apr 13th, 2008, 12:51 PM
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From my understanding, Orpheus Island, like many of Queensland's resort Islands, is not a reef island and would therefore not be the best pick for snorkeling and diving the reef. Lizard Island would be the way to go. Haven't been but I hear it is fantastic for seeing the reef up close. Heron Island and Lady Elliot Islands are the other resort islands on the reef to consider. I've been to Heron and have only great things to say, though December is breeding season for birds, which apparently drives some people nuts.
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Apr 13th, 2008, 08:41 PM
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There is often a lot of confusion about which island resorts are on the reef, so I thought it might be helpful to list the 6 resorts that are directly on the GBR:

1 Lady Elliot Island Resort - coral cay at the southern end of the reef

2 Heron Island Resort - ditto

3 Wilson Island Resort- near Heron Island (trips from Heron to Wilson)

4 Lizard Island Resort - GBR northernmost resort

5 Orpheus Island Resort

6 Green Island Resort - A coral cay 45 minutes from Cairns.

Like RalphR I would highly recommend Heron. If you can afford Lizard it's the one that is consistently recommended, if you go, please report back!


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Apr 14th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Susan: Good idea to try to clarify which islands are directly on the reef and which are not. I haven't been to Orpheus and maybe you have, in which case, please correct me. But after surfing around on the web a little, I stand by my contention that Orpheus is not directly on the reef. Like many of Queensland's resort islands (Hinchinbrook, Dunk, Daydream, Hamilton, Hayman, Brampton, etc), Orpheus is a "continental island" lying close to shore and sheltered by the GBR proper (the "outer reef"), which lies much further out to sea. I note that on the Orpheus Island website boat trips to the "outer reef" are offered, directly indicating the island is not directly on the GBR. It is also clear from the photos that Orpheus is a continental island, unlike Heron, Green and LE, which are coral cays. [Lizard Island, while being a continental island, is nonetheless surrounded by the outer reef, which comes in close to the mainland in the far north.]

Many of the continental islands have their own fringing reefs, and Orpheus appears to be no exception. It's possible that the snorkeling on the fringing reef will be quite good - I haven't been so I can't say for sure. But I have snorkeled some of the fringing reef around Brampton Island..didn't hold a candle to the outer reef, unfortunately.

Nonetheless, I am glad we at least agree about Heron Island and what a great spot it is for seeing the GBR up close.
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Apr 14th, 2008, 03:32 PM
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RalphR I stand corrected! I got the list from a website I used some time ago to choose an island on the reef and I confess I just assumed it was accurate.

Perhaps the fringing reef is particularly good?

http://www.orpheus.com.au/.

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Apr 14th, 2008, 05:09 PM
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Orpheus is one of the Palm Group of continental islands about 20km off shore from Ingham, north of Townsville. Its still about 20-25km short of the GBR. Most continental islands, especially those further north in Qld have fringing reefs with some coral, but they're not the reef proper. In fact, Fitzroy Island, even closer to Cairns than Green Island (a true coral cay) has fringing coral and lovely beaches. As do the Frankland Islands, a bit south of Cairns, and only abour 20 mins off shore, no accommodation there but is available as a day trip from Cairns. Never crowded as only one boat has permit to visit and numbers are strictly controlled.

The most northerly east coast Queensland island with tourist facilities is Haggerstone Island, off Cape Grenville and 600km north of Cairns so its way north of Lizard Island. Expensive to stay and to get to and in 14 years of talking to tourists in FNQ have only met one couple who've stayed there. www.haggerstoneisland.com

Have you considered a liveaboard, Ozzymandius? - most leave Cairns and go to remoter reef regions for 3-4 days, longer if you want beyond the reef into Coral Sea.
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