The Southern Great Barrier Reef is sprinkled with tiny coral cays that are surrounded by protective coral lagoons, providing exceptional snorkelling the moment you enter the water.
Heron Island is no exception, its surrounding waters are brimming with rays (eagle, cow-tail and giant shovel-nosed to name a few), turtles (primarily green, but keep an eye out for a giant and very old loggerhead named Ben) and reef sharks (don’t worry, they’re terrified of you).
Lady Elliot Island is regarded as the southern starting point of the reef, or as we prefer to call it, where GREAT begins. Located 46 nautical miles off the coast of Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is (as the name suggests) eco-certified and attracts divers from around the world who want to swim with super-sized manta rays.
Lady Musgrave is off the coast from Queensland’s birth town, the Town of 1770. This protected pocket of water is like swimming in an ocean aquarium, and its calm waters are perfect for families and swimmers of all abilities to snorkel and explore the colourful reef.
Located 89 kilometres north-east of Gladstone, Heron Island packs a punch with 16 superb dive sites within 15 minutes of the island. Plus, there’s no need for long boat transfers to the reef when you reach this island – you can literally swim off the beach and drift snorkel above colourful coral.
And rounding out these is an island that offers some serious island chill time. The biggest of the 14 islands that make up the Keppel group, Great Keppel Island has that relaxed feel where you can comfortably wander around in your togs (aka swimmers/bathers/cossie) and lose track of time. A quick hop across the bay from Yeppoon, Great Keppel Island has 17 pristine white-sandy beaches perfect for lounging, sand-castle building and beach cricket.