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.
- 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