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Heron Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Heron Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 17, 2012

Flying from Brisbane into Gladstone and then connecting to the shuttle to the marina to catch the Heron Islander was easily accomplished and expertly handled by the resort staff. The two-hour ride to the island was a little rough, but the pleasure of sitting in the sun on the stern of the boat under a beautiful blue sky cancelled any discomfort. The first impression of the island on arrival---and a startling one---is the presence of thousands of Black Noddy Terns flying low overhead, leaving droppings everywhere---and occasionally on guests---and generally creating a ruckus. This was alarming, for they dominate the island and create the pervading atmosphere. At night, the cooing and shuffling in their nests fills the air. However, I found that, after about a day, I got used to the birds and, although annoyed sometimes by their actions, mentally accepted their existence in my paradise.

And, Heron Island is a paradise, sitting on a reef with beautiful water. One suggestion I have for potential visitors is to check the tide times for the island before they go and, if possible, arrange their visit according to when the high tide comes in during the day. It is important for guests who snorkel off the beach, which many do rather than paying extra to go out in the resort's boats, that the high tide occurs between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. They then have two good hours before high tide and two good hours afterwards for snorkeling.

Other reviewers have commented on these aspects, but I'll add just a word or two. The resort seemed to be managed by university students. I rarely saw anyone in a supervisory or management position over twenty-five. Consequently, all services seemed to be done by apprentices or temporary help. They were not performed professionally. The food was adequate, but the sameness of it got tiring and it did not inspire an appetite. Also, I found it a little uncomfortable that I frequently was being encouraged to spend additional money on bar items, espresso coffee, and other high profit goods. I thought that A$25 an outrageous price for the last lunch before taking the boat back to Gladstone, so I fixed a bacon and cheese sandwich at breakfast that served my needs perfectly.

I have one observation about the swimming pool. I believe that there needs to be a separate pool for small children. I was surprised at how many pre-school children were at the resort and, passing by the pool numerous times, I noticed that they and their parents hogged the facility. I was further concerned about hygiene in the pool.

While these comments may suggest that I have a negative view of the resort, I, in fact, consider it a tremendous destination. It is truly a tropical island with fauna and flora unique to it. There has been great effort to preserve the natural setting. For example, the paths or walkways around the resort narrowly wind their way through fairly dense foliage. In spite of certain less-than-desirable aspects of the resort, I recommend it highly and would return in a flash.

Room Tip: Most rooms seem good.
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled solo
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2  Thank Spruce912
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 15, 2012

Heron Island offered great, clear water for diving and snorkeling. There was never a shortage of turtles, sharks and rays for viewing. A highlight of our island visit. The hotel staff was very friendly but at times it appeared they were understaffed. The accommodations were adequate. The infusion of 170,000 nesting birds was unexpected and not always welcome. Something to consider before booking your vacation on Heron Island. A wonderful entertainment treat performing at the resort while we were there was the duo Beautifully Mad. Tony and Kris were not only fantastic musicians and singers, they were warm and welcoming individuals, making our evenings very enjoyable with their wide selection of music, ranging from jazz, easy listening, rock, salsa and their own creations as well.

Room Tip: When you arrive, check room first to make sure everything is functional before unpacking.
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank RicoColorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2012

We recently stayed in a Turtle room for 5 nights. The room was basic with a 2 beds, ample storage/closet space, 2 chairs and small table in room, private bath and shower, small back deck with 2 chairs and table. These rooms had no air conditioning, but had 2 large fans which kept the room fairly cool. The rooms were cleaned daily with fresh towels provided, however, most days it was well into the late afternoon before the rooms were cleaned. I was told this was because the first rooms to be cleaned were those for newly arriving guests (makes sense). There were no screens on the windows or doors. I was worried about mosquitos, but never saw one the entire time.

The diving was spectacular! Loved the dive operation - very well organized and focused on safety. We did 10 dives and all were fantastic! Snorkeling off the shore was very good as well. Giant Grouper, Sharks, rays, clams, many fish - all right off the dock! We snorkeled the last morning and used the departure showers - they were really nice, clean, roomy and they also provided lockers for your change of clothes.

There are MANY birds on the island. Some people were annoyed by the noise, but this is a bird sanctuary, so......... The only recommendation I would have is to have the trees cut back from the pathways to avoid being "dropped on" on your way to dinner.

Meals were included which consisted of a daily breakfast and lunch buffet. Dinner was a buffet every other night was a menu with 3 selections. The food wast terrible. Mainly just very bland - no spices at all. Alot of beef and lamb were served with very little fish or chicken options. A few food items, we actually spit out they were so bad. Others were complaining about the food too so I know it was not just me. On the last day, our boat was to pick us up at 2pm and we had to check out by noon. We were told that lunch was not included, but we could purchase it for $25 each - no way! I found this rather strange that lunch would not be included if we were leaving at 2pm. Anyway we found that the bar had pizza's for purchase of $12.50 each and we ordered that for our last lunch. If we had known about the pizza, we would have had it more often! I don't believe there should have been a charge for the pizza since we didn't really have a choice of restaurants out there - only the one terrible one.

I gave this place 4 stars because of the diving, snorkeling and location of this beautiful island. Unfortunately, I would not come back unless the food improves. Thanks for the great diving!

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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3  Thank 85Kim
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 reviewResponded December 12, 2012

Dear 85Kim,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review, we do value your feedback.

It is excellent to hear that you had a wonderful time exploring the reef with your many dives! Heron Island is one of the best diving and snorkeling destinations in the world and we get this terrific feedback from our guests daily.

We were disappointed to read that you were displeased with the food on the island. We have recently had some negative feedback regarding the meals and as such have just in the past weeks made we some changes. We now have a new Head Chef who is designing a brand new menu with greater variety and flavour and options to suit all tastes. We are confident that should you return, you will not be disappointed in these changes.

With regards to housekeeping - our apologies that your towels were not replenished daily. This feedback has been passed on to the Housekeeping Manager who is following this up so that occurrences such as this do not happen again. We thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Lunch on the day of departure isn't included in the package as you have mentioned below. The reason for this is that the package includes 3 meals daily, starting with lunch on the day of arrival and breakfast on the day of departure. This equates to 3 meals per night stayed. The lunch on day of departure is an additional meal and as such, we have another option (pizzas at the bar) should guests not wish to pay for a full buffet lunch on that day. I realise that this was disappointing, however hope that you can understand the reasoning behind this. We are however happy to hear that you enjoyed the pizzas on the day of your departure.

Once again, thank you for your feedback. We hope that you do have the opportunity to return to Heron Island again and experience the positive changes we are making at the island.

Kind Regards,

The team at Heron Island

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2012

Tony and Kris, known as "Beautifully Mad", absolutely capped off the vacation holiday with their exceptional music. As we listen to it now, it takes us back to wonderful evenings of musical enjoyment. Their interpretations of known jazz, salsa, rock, and pop were on the money, within an inspired personal context. They are individually excellent musicians that blend into a unique and very professional sound that will carry with you long after you leave. They both have excellent voices and a verve to match! Tony has one of the sweetest 12 string guitars to be found! In addition, their original music is first rate! We have invited them to the United States and hope they can put a tour together!

The turtle viewing is great. Also to be seen are reef sharks, sting and manta rays, and a very large grouper named Gus. The advantage of this location to divers and snorkelers is that once you make the ferry ride to the island, the time to the dive sites is very short! The dive equipment was in good shape and the dive masters and other personnel were friendly and helpful.

We were there during mating season, with the largest bird infusion of the year, when the bird population explodes to over 150,000 birds by one count. I am sure that visits that are timed to avoid this would be preferable.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Steven M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 4, 2012

Heron Island is so beautiful, we loved the amazing birds which were everywhere so it didn't really fell like a resort, more like a nature retreat.

The under water world was amazing and the kids took to snorkelling instantly, showing no fear and loving the chance to get up close and personal with turtles, ray and even (harmless) reef sharks.

It was turtle nesting season while we were there so we got up at sunrise every day and even spotted one giant green turtle laying her eggs on the sand - an unforgettable experience.

Apart from the snorkelling and pool the kids also loved playing billiards(!), watching the cheeky banded rail and their chicks and going on tours with the friendly guides where they could touch various star fish and sea cucumbers. They also loved the buffet restaurant and may have gone back for more desert more than once.

All in all a fabulous family holiday with something for everyone including me (did I mention the spa?), the teen and the little one.

We'd love to go back.

Room Tip: If you pay extra for beach front you'll get a cool sea breeze.
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank AnnabelCandy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 2, 2012

We traveled to Heron Island for 3 nights on the 22nd November and were stunned by the beauty of this small island. The water clarity is amazing and you can see the turtles, sharks and rays without even getting in the water! We snorkeled both from the beach and off the boat and there was a wonderful abundance of beautiful fish and the special experience of swimming with a turtle.
This is an island for those that want a nature holiday as the island is teeming with birds which we just loved. At this time of year the Noddy terns were nest building and courting and they were very intense but also very beautiful birds. The Rails had little chicks running around and the Shearwaters were preparing their nests at night and making spooky sounds. If you are uncomfortable about being surrounded by birds or a little precious about bird droppings then this isn't the island for you!
The bar, restaurant and pool areas are all very pleasant and take advantage of the beautiful views and our reef room also had views of the ocean and a nice little outdoor seating area. The room itself was basic but comfortable and I loved the ceiling fan and lourve windows - much better than air-conditioning! The bathrooms could do with a makeover and there were a few plumbing issues but that's understandable in such a remote location.
I can highly recommend a massage at the spa - it was quite special.
The only disappointment for me was the quality of the food. It was very ordinary. I was hoping for tropical fruit and fresh seafood given the location and while there were plenty of prawns at the seafood buffet some fresh local fish would have been nice. There was nothing exciting about the breakfast and lunch buffets and while I understand the isolation I have had brilliant food in isolated jungle resorts in Borneo. There is no excuse for cheap ingredients - they need to employ someone with a passion for good food and an interest in local and seasonal ingredients - it is an eco resort after all.
I found the staff very pleasant and helpful and would love to go back during a different season to witness the turtle hatchlings. I was concerned about getting bored but would stay an extra day next time as there is a lot to see and do for such a small island........just hope they improve the food.

Room Tip: The family reef rooms have ocean views and beach access but are away from resort facilities and I wa...
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Maccyoz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2012

We arrived at Heron Island on 22/11/12 and had an amazing 4 night stay with our 7 and 9 yr old children. Heron Island is such a unique experience, unspoilt, pristine and a visual feast of sea life. We watched a green sea turtle lay her eggs and snorkelled daily from right in front of our room. The kids had a ball and as we had a beach side room they could snorkel while we sat on the verandah and watched.
My kids loved the junior ranger program and were busily seeking information to complete their workbooks and collect their badges ( very educational).
We found the food was good and although advised to bring snacks felt that it was not necessary as the 3 meals a day were ample, most meals were buffet and the fresh crusty bread was divine!
This really is an awesome spot for a family getaway if you love nature, the birds are plentiful and fun to watch, they occasionally poop on you but the kids thought it was hilarious !
I was thinking that 4 nights was perhaps too long on such a small island but we could have happily stayed for another week!
Take your own snorkelling gear if you can so you do not have to hire them, reef shoes are a good idea for when exploring the reef at low tide ( you can borrow these at no charge but we took our own) to avoid coral cuts and also good for walking on the rocks.
The staff were always helpful and polite.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with family
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2  Thank Megan2757
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 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: $255 - $424 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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