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“Just fabulous” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Heron Island Resort

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Heron Island Resort
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Via Gladstone, Heron Island, Queensland 4000, Australia   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Heron Island
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Tannum Sands, Australia
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Just fabulous”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2012

I arranged my daughter's 21st birthday celebration at Heron Island recently. We had about 35 guests, half from interstate, half Gladstone locals. Between us, our stays varied from 1-3 nights.

This was my 4th visit to Heron since my 40th held there Dec 2011.

What a sensational, pristine island getaway, without the ridiculous prices charged further North. Rooms are clean and very comfortable, with several options available. No air conditioning, but due to the sea breezes and ceiling fans these aren't necessary (I don't cope with heat and humidity well at night, and have never had a problem with heat while on Heron).

My young nieces had left the Southern Highlands of NSW in snow, excited to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. They were not disappointed.

We found the meals good overall. Remember, this is not a five star fining dining resort. The fillet steak on one of the a la carte nights was the best I've eaten (better than my own).

My parents regularly travel, and their 2nd visit to Heron again didn't disappoint. They now rave to their friends on the location and overall value for a lovely break.

Drinks throughout bars and restaurant are very reasonable, especially considering isolation and captive audience.

Some other reviews complain about birds and bird droppings. The name of the island is Heron. Heron is a bird. There is a massive bird population, which is no secret. It's lovely to be able to relax and watch the various birds go about their natural business. In my 4 visits in nearly 11 months, I've been pooped on once. No big deal.

Do yourself a favour, experience Heron Island. A truly magical, affordable holiday. Wether for a night for a few, you'll never forget is beauty.

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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799 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
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Sydney, Australia
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2012

My husband and I spent 3 days and nights at the Island. Our intent was to have a relaxing stay and see the Great Barrier Reef for the first time. We took the ferry option to the island, which was comfortable. Upon arrival I was a bit surprised with the few thousand? Noddy Terns that were nesting there, but soon got used to them. And later I enjoyed watching the males provide leaves to the females for nest-building.
Due to the coolness of the water there were no soft corals, but the two times I did snorkel I enjoyed what I saw. It turns out there are a surprising number/variety of tropical fish for that latitude, corals of various types and colors, and I even saw a spotted? lobster hiding among them. We also saw many smallish sharks and rays. And I am certain I saw a shadow of a manta ray near the "wreck"! I thought we would be able to snorkel out to the reefs from shore, but we were advised not to, and to pay for the boat to take us out. We were told this was due to the currents being too strong to snorkel out there safely. I also took a group walk thru the forest on the island, learned about how the island was made and saw nesting Eagles.
The facilities were nice. Our room was clean and spacious and I enjoyed sitting on the balcony watching the Terns. The food, though, wasn't my favorite. Qualification: I try to eat healthily/vegetarian. It was rare for there to be anything vegetarian that included protein (no lentils or tofu, etc.), so I had to eat meat. Also, most meals were buffet-style, which I prefer to avoid. However the one night we had a more formal meal I enjoyed it very much, and breakfasts were nice. The American-style drip coffee was not good (full disclosure I am American) but the teas were varied/nice. We could also pay for espresso drinks if we wished one.
There was no free TV or internet access, but there was entertainment most evenings. I am not usually one to listen to music or go to concerts, but I thoroughly enjoyed the couple who played and sang. Beautifully Mad. I particularly enjoyed the slower songs. Both had wonderful voices - Chris reminded me of Bette Midler a bit, and Tony played the guitar with amazing talent. I love good guitar and was quite pleased. And not only that, they were so nice and down to earth. They were easy to talk to, making me feel welcome and at home.
Overall the island met my needs - a place to relax and unwind, and a good start to our GBR vacation.

Room Tip: Depends on your needs. The rooms are varied and spread around. There are those that have beach views...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 22, 2012

We scheduled a stay at Heron Island based on great online reviews indicating it is a hidden gem on the Great Barrier Reef. My wife and I were looking for a location on the reef where we could snorkel to discover the reef and relax in a beautiful natural and remote environment. The Heron Island Resort delivered all this! We snorkeled over beautiful coral reefs, we saw colorful fish, exotic rays, and reef sharks. We walked on a perfect coral beach at high tide and waded in an interesting cay marine world at low tide. We toured the small island forest, visited turtle nesting sites, and watched noddy terns build their nests right outside our balcony overlooking the ocean. This resort delivered everything we were hoping for...and more! The icing on the cake and a highlight of our visit was our discovery of the unexpected world class entertainment that was on tap every evening in the form of Tony and Kris, known as "BeautifullyMad". We were constantly entertained with Tony's incredible guitar virtuosity, Kris' sweet voice, and their ability to entertain across several genres. They captured us with their unique songs and great lyrics. My wife and I felt that this unadvertised surprise turned a very nice vacation into a wonderfully memorable one! If you chose to make Heron Island your GBR destination, I suggest you try to make sure Tony and Kris are scheduled to play during your visit - you won't regret it!

Pleasantly pleased,

Room Tip: We signed up for a Turtle room, but were pleasantly upgraded to a Reef room at no extra charge (anot...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2012

We stayed on Heron Island in April 2012 and have only decided to write a review now as we have seen some of the same issues arising as when we stayed. Firstly the island is absolutely stunning – pristine beaches, amazing clear water. The snorkelling is fantastic and we were there to see the end of the turtle hatching season – which in itself was a massive highlight. Majority of staff were excellent – especially the restaurant staff. We were there with our 7 month old son and they catered for his every need – even preparing ‘made to order’ food for him (one morning his breakfast was ready for him when we arrived in the restaurant!). In addition the babysitting was great and very affordable (huge thanks to the lovely Emily and Vanessa). On the downside the check in was disappointing. We paid extra to have a helicopter transfer and no one met us at the helipad and had to be shown reception by another guest. Upon check-in Christine in reception was rude and unhelpful. Like other reviewers the staff in the dive centre were rude and obnoxious. We were also told the fishing charter was unavailable due to boat maintenance which will take 2 weeks – this was back in April and recent reviewers are still being told the same. The room maintenance was also pretty shoddy. Dirty shower bases and often the room was not serviced on a daily basis. It would help to just have water bowls outside the room for guest to wash their feet. Overall we had a wonderful time. The birds didn’t bother us (the island is called Heron island people – a giveaway birds might be there). Would recommended Heli transfers as the sights from air are spectacular. It would be appreciated if management could explain what is really happening with the fishing charter boat.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2012

My family & I recently travelled to Heron Island & stayed for 2 nights. Firstly, it is an absolutely beautiful, remote spot on the Great Barrier Reef & the 2 hour boat trip is worth the wait although it can get quite rough so take sea sickness tablets if you are prone to sea sickness. The food was good, although I was disappointed with the limited food options for the kids at dinner - cheerios, chips & salad on the buffet for the kids is a bit ordinary. The staff are very friendly, but the organisation of the restaurant needs improving. There seemed to be a lack of staff & service was slow at times, they struggled to cope with a restaurant full of people. The rooms were good, we stayed in a Reef family room (no air con) & had the beach on our doorstep. They are a little run down & not overly spacious but the beds were comfortable & it was lovely sleeping so close to the beach & the birds. If you have kids ask for a room closer to the resort if possible to avoid the long walks. The snorkeling just off the beach was excellent. The is an adundance of fish, coral, turtles & sharks. If you don't like birds don't go to Heron Island because they are everywhere & expect to be pooped on repeatedly. My kids loved the birds & it is nice to see their habitats are well taken care of & undisturbed. Heron Island is an unspoilt paradise & will be enjoyed by people who love good snorkeling & diving & those who also want to relax & unwind in nature.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
74 helpful votes 74 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 18, 2012

First the good. The Junior Rangers club run by the information centre is superb. The kids came back after every session inspired, in awe and infinitely more knowledgeable. And you can't put a price on that.

The kids showed us (thanks to Junior Rangers) where the turtle nests were - and that was pretty special too. Some of the snorkelling was brilliant - reef sharks and turtles were beautiful. Coral and fish sightings - very poor - not a patch on the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

Rooms were good. Comfy beds and fresh (Ikea style) furnishings.

Food at the restaurant was patchy. Breakfast average, lunch average (both fairly unsparing buffets - but fresh), dinner was up and down. The first night was very very poor (a la carte), the second night superb (a la carte), the third night average (buffet), the fourth average (a la carte).

Fishing charter not running due to boat maintenance.

Very poor health and safety compliance around the pool. People allowed to drink from glasses in the pool and around the pool. Kids found lots of broken glass. This is an accident just waiting to happen.

Staff on the whole good. Superb assistant manager (Issac) who tried his best to tackle and compensate for some of the issues we stumbled into.

The main and I think critical issue for this island is the amount and frequency of bird poo around the place. It stinks, is starting to attract little flies in places, looks revolting and surely must be a health hazard. I am not talking about the odd area - it is EVERYWHERE. Two massive patches (each around 1m wide) right next the pool and then at regular intervals (at least every 3-4 metres) along the pathways. The resort say it is a battle they are fighting, but any future guests need to be aware that it is one they are currently losing. The resort needs to dramatically increase the resources and equipment needed to get on top of this issue.

Until this is sorted out I would seriously counsel anyone considering this island to look at other options.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Clementine I, Manager at Heron Island Resort, responded to this review, November 22, 2012
Dear 245lou,

Thank you for your feedback.

We are delighted to hear that you found the Junior Rangers program beneficial and that the children enjoyed it - it certainly is a highlight for any families travelling with children. We were also pleased to hear you enjoyed the snorkelling and the wildlife that can be seen on the reef right off the beach - the turtles are just amazing and so many for our guests to enjoy.

With regards to the food in the restaurant, we have had feedback with regards to inconsistency of the food across all meals. We have just in this past week replaced the Head Chef and have made many changes that will result in more consistent meals, regardless of whether it be a la carte or buffet.

Heron Island is a natural haven for birds. Year round we have large quantities of birds at the island and for many guests, this is part of the reason they come here. Heron Island is a natural habitat for birds and many different wildlife and we do try our best to maintain the bird droppings and a clean environment around the resort. Each morning we have a team that go around the island cleaning the public walkways and other public areas to try and keep the bird droppings to a minimum. In saying this, we take your feedback very seriously and will be looking into ways in which we can possibly clean certain areas more regularly.

Please accept our apologies with regards to the broken glass you found around the pool, that is clearly unacceptable. This issue has now been addressed by resort management.

As you noticed, we have recently made changes to the management team at the island and are very confident that there are many positive changes to come in the near future.

We hope that you come back to Heron Island with your family again in the future so that you can experience all of the wonderful changes that we have made.

Thank you again for your feedback, it is appreciated.

Kind Regards,

The team at Heron Island
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Noosaville, Australia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2012

This was our 3rd trip to Heron Island, the first time we visited was 20 years ago and not much has changed but that's a good thing in my view.
The natural scenery is fantastic and the resort is relaxed and merges into the natural environment.
We were in the Family Reef rooms which are comfortable but nothing special. The rooms open onto the beach and so its hard to keep the sand and birds out but fine for our messy family!
The good points about Heron Island are:
1. Natural beauty
2. Nature - including the birds, if you don't like birds don't come. I actually love having them all around you, its part of the charm of the place.
3. Friendly resort staff - nice young staff but they seem much younger and less organised than before, probably backpackers.
4. Good snorkelling trips and organised walks etc.

The bad points are:
1. I found the dive centre staff to have a MAJOR attitude problem; the female staff were fantastic and showed how it should be done with great friendliness and a fun attitude. Unfortunately the male diving staff were completely the opposite.
At times they were bordering on being hostile and aggressive! For example I was told off for filling out the medical form without being in the presence of an instructor despite being given the forms to take away earlier in the day, my 14 year old backed out of a scuba experience she had wanted to do for ages due to the attitude of one of the main instructors.
I wouldn't recommend diving there to any of my more timid friends, I felt you needed to be prepared to assert yourself to avoid being bullied by them!
2. The diving is actually a bit boring and limited. Each dive seems the same. Being herded along in a group on a drift dive is quite limiting if you're a more experience diver.
When we first dived here in 1993 we did much more interesting dives.
They organise a few night dives but you can't include them in your package. They really need to take divers off to more challenging sites.
3. I agree with what others have said about the food. Most of the meals were buffet's, the choice was limited and it just seemed to have gone downhill since we came 2 years ago.
The wine list was too expensive, I estimated a 300% mark-up compared with bottle shop prices.
A couple of cheaper house wines would be a good idea.
4. The room cleaning was hit and miss, one day it was mid-morning, the next afternood and one day it never happened. My wife asked someone to come and make up the room and I bumped into a very annoyed guy who snapped at me "I know, I'm on my way!" as I came out of the door...I hadn't even opened my mouth, I was just heading out to the bar!

Overall, I really like the place but got very annoyed by the diving centre's attitude. I wouldn't go there for a diving holiday but I'd recommend it for a fun place to take the kids and see some wildlife. The food needs to be improved and the rooms need to be maintained a bit more professionally.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Heron Island Resort

Address: Via Gladstone, Heron Island, Queensland 4000, Australia
Phone Number:
Location: Australia > Queensland > Heron Island
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Heron Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Heron Island Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 109
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Heron Island is a true coral cay right on the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Here you swim off the beach to an endless garden of coral. Activities include guided island and reef walks, semi-submersible cruises, bird watching and beach picnics, plus a Kids program. Voyages Heron Island is famous around the world for its scuba diving and snorkeling. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Heron Island Hotel Heron Island

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