Great Barrier Reef - Cays and Reefs in The Whitsundays

Aerial of Hardy Reef, Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays are often considered the ‘Heart of the Reef’ – it’s here of course that you’ll find the much-photographed Heart Reef to prove it. The 74 islands of the Whitsundays group are all continental islands with fringing reefs and the very accessible outer reefs are just an hour’s boat trip away.

The outer reefs most frequently visited by day-trippers are Hardy Reef and Knuckle Reef – both having permanently moored pontoons – like floating villages for subaquatic day-trippers, and the more secluded Bait Reef.

Snorkelling and diving

The day boats and pontoons offer everything you need for snorkelling and diving – both first-timers and experienced, and even semisubmersible boat trips if you want to see the reef without getting wet. You’re almost guaranteed to see three of the Great Eight whether diving or snorkelling, as the area is dotted with giant clams, sea anemones and their resident clownfish, and curious turtles often swim right up to the pontoons.

An alternative to the day boat is to fly to the pontoon by helicopter giving you a chance to fly over the famous Heart Reef.

Humpback whales love the Whitsundays too, and the area is favoured by humpback whales for calving between July and October.

Read our blog, Best places to snorkel and dive in the Whitsundays to find out about snorkel and dive sites.

Great Barrier Reef Blog