Great Barrier Reef Flight
Landing at Hardys Reef on the Great Barrier Reef for snorkelling
Semi Submersible with glass bottom boat snorkelling 2 hours
Landing at Whitehaven Beach picnic lunch 1 hour
Time on tour 4.5 hours
Time flying 1.5 hours
Minimum passengers 2 pax
Maximum passenger 23 pax
Included scenic sights Whitsunday Islands, Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach, Bait Reef, Hook Reef, Hardys Reef and Heart Reef
Float Plane landings Hardys Reef and Whitehaven Beach
Included: Great Barrier Reef Semi Submersible with snorkelling and snorkel gear provided. Picnic lunch on Whitehaven Beach.
Panorama Flight Price
Child (2 to 12) $475.00
Some things in life are unforgettable - this is one of them
Tour Review by Gary Crockett
We arrived at the Air Whitsundays terminal at the Whitsundays light aircraft airport a half an hour prior to the departure time to check in. A half hour later we were boarding the plane and took off on our adventure.
Being a tourism photographer this was my first time taking pictures from a plane. The plane flew over Shute Harbour giving a great view of the ferry terminal and the moored boats there. From there we flew up the Whitsunday Passage passing Daydream and South Molle islands.
Still flying up the Whitsunday Passage we flew over Mid and North Molle Islands and the over Langford Reef before turning east to fly past Hayman Island Resort, through the passage between Hayman Island and Hook Island and then travelling along the rugged scenic East Coast of Hook Island.
We flew past Maureens Cove and Luncheon Bay where we could see the overnight sailing boats taking people scuba diving and snorkeling there. From the plane the view gave a real perspective of just how large and ruggedly beautiful Hook Island is. As the plane neared the Hook Island passage between Hook and Whitsunday Island it banked left and flew east gaining altitude to take us to the Great Barrier Reef. So far the trip had been breathtaking.
It wasn’t long before the Great Barrier Reef came into view and the plane began a slow descent to give us a better view, the reef stretched as far as we could see. It is amazing just how big some of the reefs are. We flew over a channel that runs between two massive reefs. We could see a reef platform with a large tourist boat tied up to it but otherwise there was no other evidence of tourist activity. Our destination was a protected lagoon on Hardy’s Reef. The excitement among the other passengers was evident everyone either had a smile or a look of amazement on their faces.
As we flew over we could see that another plane had already landed. We came in for a good landing, skimming on top of the water with little bumps, nothing scary and then motoring up to the semi submersible which was waiting. The semi submersible was smaller than I had envisioned but was fine for the amount of people there. It was basically a small group of people and we all settled in downstairs peering through the glass windows underwater as the semi submersible motored to our snorkelling location.
Snorkelling gear was supplied and everyone geared up and jumped in. We were actually snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and everyone was pretty impressed with what they were seeing. The water wasn’t cold and being in a protected lagoon you could snorkel along the edges of the reef walls, coral, fish, anemone, turtles we had approximately two hours to take everything in. Amazing! We all dried off and then the semi submersible motored back to the plane.
The take off was as smooth as the landing was. We cleared the water and the cameras began to click, it’s not often you get an opportunity to take fabulous pictures like these and everyone was making the most of it. It’s hard to get your head around just how big the Great Barrier Reef is, it extended for as far as the eye could see and yet this is only a very small section of the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef funs for almost the entire length of the coast of Queensland, some 2,000 kilometres.
The pilot did a flyover of Heart Reef for us. Heart Reef is probably the reef that most people have seen in advertising for the Great Barrier Reef and it did not disappoint, it is indeed, shaped like a heart.
The plane then turned east and again began gaining altitude allowing me to get a variety of images at different heights which made things very interesting and gave us all fabulous views. We were now flying back to the Whitsunday Islands and were keen to see Whitehaven Beach from the air.
The Great Barrier Reef was going to be hard to top but as Whitehaven Beach came into view it was easy to see why it is rated among the worlds best beaches. It is absolutely magnificent. Pure white silica sand and impossibly blue water make this beach a photographers dream. Whitehaven Beach definitely has the WOW factor.
Another smooth landing and we were on Whitehaven Beach taking in the scenery. The pilot produced a picnic lunch which consisted of Australian sparkling wine and 100% fruit juice, local spring water and an assortment of Australian brand snacks and treats. We spent around an hour on Whitehaven Beach before taking off to head back to the mainland.
Flying over Whitsunday Island we saw Gulnare Inlet, possibly one of the prettiest sights I have ever seen. From here Hamilton Island was in the distance and a host of other islands came into view.
We were heading back to the airport but the scenery just wouldn’t quit. Hamilton Island, islands next to Hamilton Island, Long Island with other resorts dotted on the foreshores.
Finally we flew back over Shute Harbour with the sun shimmering on the water below. We were on the final approach back to the airport. The plane did an arc close to a hill near the airport before giving us a final scenic view of the town of Airlie Beach. I have to say that this trip is probably the most action packed 3 hours of my life and something I definitely won’t forget. It was amazing just how much this trip shows you in 4.5 hours.