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“Great food, rest and dives!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Heron Island Resort

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Heron Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Heron Island
Certificate of Excellence
Canberra
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great food, rest and dives!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 8, 2011

Great 4 days. Food was 5* and the diving was really good! Not crowded dive boats and the dive crew were great! Mantas, turtles, so many sharkes I stopped counting. Highlight - scooter dive at 30m! Plenty of rest - loved it! Celebrating wedding anniversary - perfect!

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Kazmarch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (569)
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 18, 2011

We spent four nights at Heron Island and had a was wonderful time. We had a calm crossing in the boat although we prepared for the worst. The hotel and resort is a combination of incredible location, nice and helpful staff but facilities that are dated and tired. I would recommend going mid-week to avoid some of the weekend crowds and by all means avoid public holidays as the kids can run wild in the place. The kitchen staff tries hard but the food was average at best with the lunch buffets getting tiresome after only 3 days.

The best part and the reason to go to Heron of course is being able to have a five minute boat ride for wonderful dives and snorkeling off the beach. It was incredible for both the divers and snorkelers in the family. We needed wet suits to dive and snorkel (at least more than 30 minutes of snorkeling). The dive staff were extremely helpful as were the activities staff. The reef, bird and nature hikes were great. We stayed in a Beach Suite which was nice but basic. They were working on the Pointe Suites when we were there and perhaps the new owners will work on the other rooms over time. We took the submersible boat trip and although no one got sick, we would have been happier if we had taken our Kwells before the trip!

Heron is a special place, we left relaxed and refreshed, try to stay more than two days to get truly into the flow of the place. Keep expectations for food and lodging in check and expect some great dives, walks around the island and friendly staff.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Microinsure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 13, 2011

We loved Heron Island! -- Amazing contact with nature, friendly staff and guests, competent manager, good resort facilities.
Such fun spotting — all from shore! -- reef sharks, stingrays, black noddys, white breasted eagles, just hatched baby turtles. Excellent and informative educational walks are offered every day. Of course, snorkeling is spectacular: giant turtles, colourful corals and thousand of fishes. Even the bumpy catamaran ride was fun (ginger tea might help!)...oh even croissants and cappuccino for breakfast! We never felt the resort lacked in comfort, especially considering that absolutely everything there has to be imported in (and absolutely everything has to be exported out).

Room Tip: Better ocean view from the top floors
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank carpediem28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
84 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 11, 2011

We stayed on Heron Island over the Easter long weekend. There were 5 of us, all adult, sharing two rooms.

Heron Island is simply spectaular. There is no other way to describe it. The reef, the beaches, the wild life and the views.

The accomodation is a little dated but that is to be expected on the reef islands as everything has to be brought in by boat and renovations are a major undertaking. Despite some wear and tear the rooms were clean and comfortable.

The staff were all very friendly and more than willing to help.

The food was ok. Much better than some hotel buffets I have encountered in the past.

When you go to somewhere like Heron you are not going for the food, or the luxury accomodations or the Spa (though they do have one).... you are going for the reef, and they certainly deliver on that front. We went out on the snorkle boats twice and just swam off the breach for the rest of it. We saw many turtles, sharks and rays, the usual coral and reef fish and on one trip a group of manta rays.

Fantastic trip all up and will be going back.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Georgia M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver
Level Contributor
55 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 223 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 6, 2011

My husband I just stayed at Heron for the last few nights in April and have accolades as well as suggestions for the Island resort. For the price, we expected the rooms to be nicer and the amenities to be in better shape. Most of the mid-to-sr-level staff were pleasant and helpful, whereas some of the younger staff worked hard, but perhaps could have been trained a little better.

The Boat Ride {to and from the island}
If you get sea sick, don’t risk it and take the boat. Upgrade to the helicopter transfer. Though I took some of the strongest sea sickness meds out there, I had no trouble filling 6 barf bags.

Yes, like you’re read in other reviews, the boat ride is choppy virtually year-round because it travels 72kms over the open ocean. I only wish the transfer could be on a large-scale cruise ship with stabilizers, but that wouldn’t compliment the resort’s eco designation nor be practical. Even if you don’t get sea sick, bring medication anyway to take prior to boarding. The trip can get the best of everyone.

The 170-seat boat is comfortable and new. Each table on board features a non-slip pad with kleenex and a giant stack of barf bags tipping you off to your perilous, 2-hour journey. The boat should be re-named the Vomit Comet, however, its staff are attentive, thoughtful, discreet and anticipate your needs. My deepest thanks and appreciation go to the Heron Islander’s staff! You are all gems.

Arrival
Upon arrival at Heron you are given a brief welcome chat and then lead into the dining area to lunch and receive your room assignment. This process is fairly organized, but does make you feel a bit like you’re at camp.

The Food
There is one dining hall, and breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style. Buffets can get a little gross, but I do have to give the chefs kudos for coming up with interesting compliments to the standard salad bar and hot plate section. For example, in the morning, you get your honey from a fresh honeycomb, and in afternoon there are always interesting options like butter chicken or Asian-inspired fare.

Alcohol is not included. Aside from an Aussie BBQ and seafood night, dinner is supposed to be a la carte, except both nights we dined, it was buffet because they were a little understaffed for Easter crowds.

The Draw
For many people, the resort’s draw is its location on the GBR, complete with eco-lodging, sprawling beaches and snorkeling/diving galore. The only challenge is it is unclear who the resort is targeting. Catering to everyone from young families to couples, leaves you with a confused impression. When you have a pre-dinner drink there are kids zooming around every part of the resort, while couples are trying to wind down after a day of eco adventures. That said, bringing kids to Heron is a fantastic idea and provides an incredible, hands-on education about nature.

The Rooms
Heron’s website really makes the category above the basic Turtle Rooms look nice, but they are not anything special and the pictures 'paint the rooms' in the best possible light. All rooms are in major need of a refresh with stained sitting area upholstery and confused decor combining some new features with older items left over from previous redos. However, I’m happy to hear the resort will be undertaking a reno in short order and look forward to seeing updated pictures!

What to Know
- Most plans are inclusive of meals, but not alcohol
- You are charged extra for the boat transfer {$100 per person, per way} and Helicopter transfer {$400 per person, per way}
- Unless you are also staying at Wilson Island, you pay extra for snorkel or diving equipment and tours, though some packages include diving
- There are no locks on the rooms, so lock up anything valuable with the front desk free of charge
- A slow Internet connection is available in the bar area, and charged at $3 for a 20-min period, save yourself the frustration and use it as an opportunity to be disconnected
- All rooms have tiled floors, so staying on the top floor will mean less noise coming from above
- The island’s plentiful birds can be loud, so bring ear plugs for a peaceful sleep
- The resort is pretty casual. Yes, people get out of their board shorts and bathing suits for dinner, but the dining hall’s vibe doesn’t really inspire fancy high heels and chic outfits. It’s not that kind of place.
- In winter, though day temperatures are an average of 25 Celsius, it can get chilly and damp at night or in the wind or rain, so bring warm clothes as well as dialed-down resort wear.
- During high season, it is advisable for families with young children to book dinner early and couples to book dinner later.
- For high quality snorkeling, take the snorkel tour. Don’t expect to swim through a school of fish right off the beach.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
14 Thank tripstyler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jjohanse, General Manager at Heron Island Resort, responded to this review, May 10, 2011
Thankyou for your feedback on Heron Island. I’m glad to learn that you enjoyed your time here.

I’m sorry you were slightly disappointed with the lack of a-la-carte service, however we felt we could cater better for our guests during the busy period by providing a variety of buffets throughout the day.

I understand your concern about our wide range of guests. We aim to provide for a varied clientele, and consequently provide many activities for children and adults alike.
Finally, you’ll be pleased to know our renovations have just begun and are sure to freshen up the resort. I hope to see you again here in the future.
Regards
John Johansen
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane
Level Contributor
26 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 6, 2011

Sometimes we don't take the time to explore our local tourist attractions but we were so happy we took a mini-break to Heron Island recently.

The natural beauty of the island is its selling feature and it is truly awesome.

We didn't have the best of weather - or the worst. It was windy but thankfully little rain. The wind did mean that during our three-day stay that the fishing and snorkelling trips to the outer reef were cancelled. However, just outside our door the water was pretty calm and warm and we could snorkel for hours amongst the coral and endless variety of fish. When the tide was out, we could carefully tread between the starfish, beche de mer and coral.

When we weren't in the water or relaxing reading our books, we walked in and around the small island. We can also recommend the guided trips by the very qualified staff. From them, we learnt heaps about the local birds and their nesting habits plus the flora and fauna of the island. The guided walk to the Univesity of Queensland Research Station was very interesting and very much enjoyed by the children.

As for accommodation, we stayed in the very comfortable Beachside units and would recommend that, if you can afford it, to stay in those or others with a view of the water. There is nothing like being on an island holiday and waking to a view of the water; watching it for hours; and then listening to the lapping waves after you go to bed.

Meals at the Shearwater Restaurant were part of our package and they were ample and varied. We appreciated the many healthy options. Our stay was during school holidays and therefore the evening meal was buffet-style - whereas we would have preferred the a-la-carte.

Overall, we could not fault the staff. They were always friendly and helpful.

A cautionary hint is to go prepared with motion-sickness tablets. When the wind is blowing, it can really be a rough trip from Gladstone to Heron.

We hope to go back again when the wind isn't blowing and we can get our fishing and reef-snorkelling trips in.

Super holiday! Go Queensland!

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank polcol
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jjohanse, General Manager at Heron Island Resort, responded to this review, May 10, 2011
Thanks for spending the time to share your experience of Heron Island. I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed your stay. It’s always satisfying to know that Queenslanders are looking to their own backyards and appreciating what natural beauty we have in this state.
I look forward to having you with us again.
Regards
John Johansen
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Australia
Level Contributor
90 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2011

Unfortunately for us the weather was very windy so diving was cancelled for most of the time we were there and to top it off my husband arrived not feeling well so he spent the first couple of days in bed. However, the staff were most helpful and the place is just lovely and we will just have to go back and do the diving, which is the main reason we went there! We did manage to snorkel twice and it was fabulous easy snorkelling, right off the beach!
The trip over was very rough due to the high winds but I see this is a general complaint - I am especially dodgy with seasickness so took my pills before I left and I was fine despite there being a 'vomithron' going on around me! I do think that proper anti seasick pills should be sold at the wharf and not the ginger stuff they dish out - my own experience is that ginger does not touch that kind of motion sickness! Otherwise, I cant complain about the trip over and back - very very comfortable, huge catamaran ferry - loved it!
We found the rooms to be very comfortable - yes, there is no netting on the windows but we didn't find that a problem but perhaps in the heat of summer with mosquitos it might be - not sure but I see they had mozzi coils under the basin if you needed them. We found it a little noisy at night with all the birds and although we have bats and possums creating havoc at night at home, the different noise did keep us up a little - but they do provide earplugs and that solves the problem.

Great not having to lock rooms and carry keys and money - I loved that feeling - really, if there were a few things pinched, I am sure the rules would change so just enjoy that feeling while you can! I cant see the calibre of tourist that goes there stealing out of other people's rooms???

We thought the food was great - lots of choice at each meal and I loved the spacious dining area. The staff were very efficient and seemed to cleverly sit couples with children near to each other and kept the childless couples on the outskirts and I liked that. I see someone complained about seeing a mouse! Well, it is an open-air dining room and all sides butt up to the natural bush - we saw two little tiny field mice pop in and out during our time there - they are not 'kitchen vermin', merely little visitors from the bush like the birds that manage to sneak their way in during meal times.

I really liked the way water bays are provided in the bar (and jugs in your room) so you dont have to constantly buy water. And also, on our last day we packed up and vacated the room but then went snorkelling and you can have a lovely hot shower with fresh towels down at the marine centre before you leave -such a nice touch.
I thought that the facilities available for people to snorkel, reef walk etc were brilliant - right from a 'stick' to use on the reef to steady yourself to reef shoes you could use to glass bottom tubes to view under the water without getting wet.

I dont think we saw the manager but who cares? I only want to see the manager when there is a problem. I think the staff there are extremely helpful and polite and I think that is a credit to the manager.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank buzzah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
jjohanse, General Manager at Heron Island Resort, responded to this review, May 10, 2011
Thankyou for your feedback on our resort here on Heron Island. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed your time with us. Unfortunately, the ride from Gladstone can sometimes be an unpleasant start for our guests, however we strive to make the trip and welcome to the island as comfortable as possible.
I hope to welcome you back here in the future.
Regards
John Johansen
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Heron Island Resort

Property: Heron Island Resort
Address: Via Gladstone, Heron Island, Queensland 4680, Australia
Location: Australia > Queensland > Heron Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge 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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