Best Places to Snorkel and Dive in The Whitsundays

Simon Mallender on June 3rd, 2023

Best for: families and couples

The Whitsundays region has snorkelling and diving experiences for everyone. Whether you’re a hardcore diver who wants three dives a day (and maybe a night dive as well), a family looking for a great day out on the Great Barrier Reef (the ‘Reef’), or even a couple looking for a romantic escape to snorkel your own private coral reef – the Whitsundays has a host of options for those who want to experience the magical underwater world of the Reef.

Here are just three of the many subaquatic adventures you can have in the Whitsundays.

Hardy Reef

Hardy Reef is just a 90-minute cruise from Airlie Beach, and moored at Hardy Reef is Cruise Whitsundays’ Reefworld pontoon. The daily boat from Airlie Beach arrives via Hamilton at 11.00m and the pontoon turns into a busy little town geared to maximising your experience on the outer reef.

Families can snorkel together, couples can dive together and even if you don’t want to get wet you can see the wonders of the reef from the comfort of a roomy semisubmersible. Through the large windows, you’ll see scuba divers exploring the sloping reef and snorkellers viewing the colourful coral and reef fish along the edge of the reef top. The day boat departs at 3.00pm on the dot for return transfer back to Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island.  Another great option is to fly to/from the pontoon on a scenic helicopter flight from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach.

Sleep on the Reef

For the ultimate way to experience the reef - you can stay and spend a night on the Great Barrier Reef sleeping out under the stars with the ‘Reef Sleep’ tour package.  This unique Reef Sleep overnight option an amazing way to experience the Reef.  Choose to sleep on the reef in a luxury swag on the deck of the pontoon, or sleep underwater in the luxury Reef Suite.

Luncheon Bay, Hook Island

Luncheon Bay is the most northerly snorkel and dive site within the Whitsundays group. Practically halfway to the outer reef – it gives you the best chance of seeing something special.

The bay is full of coral bommies – divers’ slang for bombora – an Aboriginal word that refers to submerged reefs. The shallower reefs, better for snorkelling, are close to the beach and the bommies in the bay stand like big haystacks almost reaching the surface. The coral cover is nothing short of amazing; large leather corals, big round brain corals and meadows of xenia – the soft corals that look a little daisies using their petals to pluck nutrients out of the current.

Langford Island Reef

If you’re looking for a private little snorkel on a very colourful reef look no further than Langford Reef. Situated just south of Hayman Island it is well away from the hustle and bustle of both the mainland and even Hamilton Island.

Tiny damsels, butterflyfish and large angelfish wend their way amongst the mixture of hard and soft corals of all shapes, sizes and colours in a microcosm of life on the Reef.

You can get to Langford by private boat charter or helicopter tour – it makes a great spot for lunch too.

Explore more about things to do in the Whitsundays



Simon Mallender

Simon Mallender

Passionate eco-warrior, Simon is also a scuba diver, videographer and writer. He has produced promotional wet and dry video for a number of Australian and overseas tourism boards, as well as dive centres and cruise lines. His dive features have appeared online on Queensland Blog, Expedia’s ‘Out There Starts Here’ Blog, Wego Editor’s Desk, and in print in many inflight magazines.

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