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Heron Island Resort
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Reviewed January 14, 2010

OK, so it's not cheap. A family of 4 - 2 adults and kids aged 12 and 8 - we splurged out on return Helicopter transfers which were worth every penny absolutely fantiastic views! We purchased the food and beverage package which in the long run would save you a small fortune (rubbish choice for kids in the evening though!). If your looking for a 'Four Seasons Spa' type resort this isn't for you. Heron Island is a place for observing and enjoying wildlife. We are not in the slightest a family of bird-twitchers but had the most amazing time. We expected to 'relax' and chill out for a few days - not the case! Up at 5 in the morning to watch the green turtles emerge from the sea to dig their body pits to lay their eggs and then more of the same at 10 or 11 at night, we were all exhausted! I could go on and on about the life of a Sea Cucumber, the nesting habits of the Black Noddy Tern, or the most weird, spooky sound of the Mutton Birds at night when they return to feed their young. Quite frankly If it weren't for the incredibly knowledgeable staff on the island I couldn't now bore the pants off my friends with such great facts!! This is a magical place - embrace it for what it is - yep the rooms are a bit dated, it doesnt have 5 bars and 6 restaurants and 3 spa suites. If thats what you want go to Cancun! Would recommend and return without hesitation.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled with family
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2  Thank mrsshearman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2010

Spent 3 glorious nights on Heron Island with my partner and my family. Can't wait to return! Did not want to leave.

The staff were very friendly and accommodating. I have to praise their work ethic and commitment to guests on the island.

The island itself, although filled with hundreds of birds, was extremely peaceful. And although it accommodates hundreds of guests and staff, we always felt we were remote and isolated on the beautiful beaches. One thing I wasn't aware of: the boat ride out to the island takes 2 hours - I am sure it was in a brochure, but mum had bought us the gift for Christmas, so I had no idea about this fact. In any case - pack your sun screen for the boat ride! There is a large indoor area on the fancy catamaran, but we preferred being outdoors feeling the wind and water spray. Sadly, got a little burned!

When you arrive at the island, the staff give you a quick run down of facilities, before you head to lunch. There is no sandwiches or such on the boat ride over, only snack food (chocolates and nuts) and drinks, so if you're likely to be hungry by lunch, make sure you pack a few little goodies for your boat ride over.

Depending on your network, your mobile phone is unlikely to work out here - just great to really get away from it all really. There are phones on the island you can buy phone cards for if you really feel you need to call out.

The four days we were on the island we spent snorkeling and swimming and eating! The island itself was AMAZING. So much underwater life, and every night we had turtles swim up on to the beach after high tide to lay eggs.
Here's some interesting facts I learned about turtles on the island:
They lay 80-140 eggs at one time
They return to the beach to lay their eggs on the beach they were born on
Of all the eggs laid, only 1 out of 1000 turtles survive to adulthood!

Got to swim with sharks, manta rays, turtles, nemos and lots of other fish. Absolutely fabulous holiday. And I slept like a baby every night, even with all the birds - made it rustic and wild.

Would I recommend it to friends - can't recommend it enough!

Will I be going back - absolutely!

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank SJ_Australia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2010

This was our fourth visit to Heron Island as a family (this time with 2 teenagers) and it certainly didn't disappoint. I was concerned having read a few recent reviews and also given that the resort has recently changed ownership. A number of recent reviews are VERY unfair and in my view, inaccurate. Firstly, the food - recent reviews suggest the food is terrible, together with the service. Our experience was the complete opposite - the food was wonderful, service was good (our drinks order was forgotten one evening - although when reminded, the drinks waiter apologised and admitted her mistake - a rare thing from my experience). Having travelled extensively as a family, particularly throughout the USA, the food was of a higher standard than many places we have stayed (including some that were significantly more upscale than the "4 star" Heron Island resort).

The location is very special and truly pristine. I just hope the new owners preserve this very special place - the diving is brilliant - saw many manta rays, reef sharks, turtles and various other ocean fauna and flora. For those who are not certified divers, this is the place for that first "resort dive" or, for the less adventurous, you won't find better
snorkelling anywhere.

The birdlife is also very special, December and January are in the middle of breeding season for the Island's Black Noddy's and Shearwaters - I recall another reviewer referring to the "noxious smell" - what would you expect on a natural coral cay than the smell of wildlife!? - we certainly don't find the smell offensive nor, would I suggest, do the vast majority of visitors to this very special part of the world. If you don't like the smell and experience of nature, it is probably better to have a vacation in the airconditioned comfort of a hotel somewhere - this is not what you get on Heron - rather you get the opportunity to spend time in a pristine natural environment.

Turtles, turtles and more turtles - we were fortunate enough to 1. dive with turtles, 2. snorkel with turtles, 3. watch female turtles nesting and, 4. witness hatchlings leaving their nests and commencing their long and arduous journey to the ocean and beyond.

The accommodation is still of a good standard although starting to get a little tired in places - in any event, it is very comfortable. Having stayed in another Delaware North property (namely Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp, just outside Yosemite valley), I am confident that the new owners will further enhance the standard of accommodation but hopefully wont go too far in putting televisions, air conditioning and telephones etc in rooms.

I would also highly recommend the fishing trips from the resort (which are conducted outside of the "green zone" of course) - what you catch, the resort's chef will cook for you any style you request (for either dinner or lunch) - needless to say, we dined extensively on our own catch of coral trout, red emperor, red throat emperor and tuskfish.

Do yourself a favour - experience Heron Island as soon as you get the chance. We will certainly return again.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled with family
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Thank Steveh15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2010

We stayed in the villas right on the beach. The whitest sand beach I had ever seen. We walked straight out to the beach in front of us and snorkeled and swam with many small colorful fish.

Stayed: September 2007, traveled solo
Thank HBW1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 10, 2010

We were a little worried because Voyages had only recently sold the Island/Resort, but everything was wonderful. The staff were friendly and competent, the rooms were spacious and clean, and the destination was amazing. The island is beautiful and we had perfect weather. We took the helicopter over and the launch back. The helicopter ride over was pretty good, but in hindsight maybe we should have done it the other way around, as the helicopter goes around the island on the way back and we were so sad to leave it would have been good to have something to look forward to at the end. The food was delicious and plentiful. It does seem a bit silly having separate meal packages when there is no option with only one restaurant, but it worked out okay for us because I didn't have lunch most days and saved a bit of money that way. We saw the turtles nesting, which was fabulous. The guided walks were informative, but we didn't do one on the first day, thinking it would be on again the next day, to find that they don't do the same ones each day. Everything was great. The only thing that surprised us was the time difference, as we hadn't been told that the island is on daylight savings time. The birds were noisy, but not as bad as we thought. Closing all windows at night was sufficient. The lack of a/c wasn't a problem, as the ceiling fan was enough. The sea breezes kept things cool at all times. Snorkelling was great, both off the beach and on the boat trip. Well worth it. The hire of the snorkelling gear did trick us, as we'd thought it was $7 per day, but you paid an extra $7 per day for the flippers. Suggest taking your own if you are staying longer than a few days. Don't forget sunscreen on the back of legs when snorkelling - one minor problem. They didn't take every opportunity to rip us off, which was unexpected. The shop wasn't overly commercial either. All very relaxing, especially without the mobile reception or TV - I hope they never change this aspect. A fantastic experience for couples and families.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank KnRSydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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