Barrier Reef Australia Blog


How Do I Choose the best Helicopter Flight When Visiting The Great Barrier Reef in Australia?

Jennifer Tofia on September 26th, 2023

When visitors go and see the Grand Canyon, New York City & Kauai, Hawaii they normally book a seat on a helicopter scenic flight too.

Around the globe there are so many spectacular sights to be explored and photographed. Then there are distinctive locations famous for their iconic views that simply must be seen from the seat in a helicopter.

The absolute ‘must do tour’ while you are there. The Grand Canyon-USA, the island of Kauai-Hawaii, New York City-USA, Rio de Janeiro-Brazil, Cape Town-South Africa and the Glaciers of New Zealand just to name a few.

So, with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia being one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it has to be said…

A helicopter flight over this amazing natural treasure is also a simply ‘Must Do Tour’ for all visitors to see it all in its grandeur.

Why Should I See the Great Barrier Reef from the seat of a Helicopter?

The ‘Great’ Barrier Reef is named so, due to the vast expanse of the reef. It is not just one reef.  It is composed of many individual reefs, approximately 2,900! It also has 900 islands spanning over 2,300 kilometres [1,400 miles] and over an area approximately 344,400 square kilometres [133,000 square miles].

Knowing this, it is easier to comprehend the magnitude of its size. Its size and structure are not something that can be truly appreciated unless seen from the seat of a helicopter, seaplane or fixed wing aircraft.

You would have seen the simply breathtaking Great Barrier Reef aerial photographs in all the travel magazines and on the internet with the brilliant blue and turquoise colours of the water entrancing your stare, so now you are here at last, come along and see it for yourself and take your own memorable photographs of the lace like patterns of coral as you fly over them on a scenic helicopter flight. 

Witness More of the Great Barrier Reef, don’t limit yourself to just seeing below the water’s surface.

When you hear the words ‘Great Barrier Reef’? Do you envision colourful corals and a myriad of marine life swimming and darting around in their underwater existence?

Do you think of water activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, semi-submersible submarines and glass bottom boat tours to see it in all its glory for yourself?

You can, and you also have the opportunity to see so much more to completely round off your visit to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia!

Book a scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier Reef and allow yourself to be amazed by its naturally formed intricate coral architecture.

What Type of Scenic Helicopter Flights can be booked on the Great Barrier Reef?

There are all sorts of helicopter flight options to choose from and they can also be combined with rainforest tours and other local iconic attractions in the region.

Great Barrier Reef scenic flights can even be as short as a 10minute flight when combined with an existing reef tour that offers scenic flights once you reach your floating pontoon destination that is sitting out on the reef.

If you travel to Green Island just off Cairns, there are 10min and 15min scenic flights that actually depart from the beach right on the island itself.

From the mainland in Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and in the Whitsundays, you can choose from 20min, 30min, 45min and 60min scenic helicopter flights. These can be shared charters or private charters.

Longer helicopter flights such as the 45min and 60 min scenic flights can incorporate flights over the reef as well as the rainforests and waterfalls.

Can I Fly out to the Great Barrier Reef and Fly back from the Great Barrier Reef?

Some reef tours offer a ‘Fly out’ or ‘Fly back helicopter & reef combos from the Great Barrier Reef option. A flight to or from the outer reef takes approximately 25mins depending on your departure location.

Another option is to take the boat cruise one way and fly by helicopter the other. OR, if you are tight on time, you can fly out to the reef, enjoy the outer reef underwater activities at the floating pontoon and then return by helicopter at a much earlier time than what a motorised catamaran would have you back at your departure point.

By combining a helicopter and boat in your travel to and from an outer reef pontoon you can still enjoy all the snorkelling and scuba diving options and other activities on the platform and then return to the mainland by a helicopter flight.

If you are on a cruise ship tour on the Great Barrier Reef then this is a really good option for you to consider.

All tours that travel to an outer Great Barrier Reef platform will have these options. There is also a Dive & Snorkel boat out of Cairns that also provides the option to Fly out or Fly back.  

Often, it is not just about the views when helicopter tours are booked. It can also be about travelling to the reef in less time than a boat would on standard reef tours.

Because the flights to and from the reef are an approximate 25minutes, the journey by helicopter can cut down travel time immensely when compared to a motorised catamaran. 

If you have time constraints in your itinerary, a helicopter tour to or from the Great Barrier Reef is a way of ensuring you get quality time to explore the reef without worrying about wasting valuable time on a boat.

Avoid Sea Sickness and Fly by helicopter to see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Something else you may not have considered with helicopter flights to and from the reef. You can avoid motion sickness that is associated with boat travel by travelling to the reef in a helicopter.   

If you are susceptible to motion sickness on the open water, a helicopter flight is not only going to be a smoother, quicker journey, but also much more scenic and memorable!

Can I book a private charter Helicopter Tour on the Great Barrier Reef?

If you are wanting a more personalised private flight experience, there are helicopter charters that will take you further afield to remote places on both the Great Barrier Reef and rainforests.

You and your travelling companions can feel like the only people in the world when you fly to a sand cay in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.  Enjoy a private gourmet picnic hamper, snorkel the nearby reef, and wade in the crystal-clear waters.

Fly over and land at the famed ‘Heart Reef ‘, or land on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays with departures from either Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island.

We have some really exclusive tours to visit these iconic locations via helicopter.

Avoid a long day tour to the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation north of Cairns and Port Douglas when you book a chartered helicopter flight to the worlds’ oldest rainforest.  Follow the coastline by helicopter where the rainforest meets the reef, cruise the Daintree River before flying over the Great Barrier Reef on the way back to Cairns.

Travel to the outback for an Aboriginal Indigenous Cultural Experience near Laura to visit the Quinkan Aboriginal Rock Art sites while being guided by Kuku Yalanji traditional owners.

And if you love your fishing, let a privately chartered helicopter take you and your friends on a unique fishing expedition where you will be taken to remote locations only accessible by helicopter.

There are even helicopter tours that will take you on a pub crawl!! Who needs a taxi or uber when you have a helicopter to get you to the next pub!

Great Barrier Reef, Rainforest and Outback. When you visit the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia there will be a helicopter tour that can allow you to see more, travel further and faster, with incredible views guaranteed. 

If you would like us to create a special helicopter tour please just speak with our Great Barrier Reef holiday specialists and we can plan some really unique activities for you on your private charter helicopter tours. 

View our private charter helicopter flights Here and our helicopter & reef combos Here 

Read more about Scenic Fligths on the Great Barrier Reef

Jennifer Tofia

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