I remember first seeing Heart Reef on a card and thought it was beautiful, I even added it into a collage of a hearts on a Valentine card I made for John one year, never did I think I would get to experience it for real, since the age of 18 I’ve been in debt, so much so that travel until recent years was not a priority. So when the opportunity arose on my Working Holiday to Australia to visit the Whitsundays a little research later and I was on that flight across the reef. To make it more cost effective, we were travelling to Hamilton Island so took our crossing over from Airlie Beach with GSL Aviation incorporating the scenic reef flight, it cost us AUS $229 each. The scenery after taking off was stunning, but it took us a little while to get to the reef, then it emerged, wow when it’s commented on how travel photography is doctored and enhanced, nope this was exactly what we got, the vibrant colours, so beautiful, absolutely stunning. This is my favourite thing that we’ve experienced in Australia, it was so inspiring, I just wanted to dive straight into those beautiful turquoise waters. The reef looked like it was endless, it was as far as the eye could see. The pilot let us know we were going to be passing Heart Reef and to have our cameras ready, of course like an idiot I nearly missed it! John had to point it out for me, it was a lot smaller than I imagined, but is truly breathtaking. A natural formation of coral reef in the shape of a heart, located in Hardy Reef, was discovered in 1975 by one of Air Whitsunday’s pilots. As you are unable to snorkel or dive at the site due to it’s protected status, Heart Reef is best experienced from the air by helicopter or seaplane. Luckily for me we swung back past so I got a better view the second time! On the way back we also got to see Whitehaven beach, which was spectacular.
If you are short on budget you can take a reef flight for a cheaper amount than what we paid without doing the transfer to Hamilton Island, it is well worth the money it was definitely my favourite thing to see in Australia. I’d read that people see the wildlife – manta rays, turtles and dolphins and whales swimming in the sea, unfortunately I didn’t experience that, but would definitely love to go again and try out a helicopter ride. Just a tip for those who get travel sick, you make want to take some tablets before hand, I was fine until Heart Reef however the pilot made a few twisty turns, but after that felt a little queasy! Still one of the best experiences of my life – highly recommended!