Most tourists going to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef approach it by sea. Stephanie Brookes arrived by air. The experience was unforgettable; the beach world class.

To fully appreciate the colour, diversity and pristine beauty of the Great Barrier Reef along Australia’s Queensland coast, take a scenic flight – an experience that will leave you with lofty memories.

Exploring the Whitsunday archipelago by seaplane is an adventure that sends you soaring high above the Whitsunday passage and allows you to take in the scattered tiny islands dotted like jewels spread out across an aqua blue body of water.

To glide over endless intricate patterns of coral gardens and suspended coral lakes, while catching occasional glimpse of a turtle, reef shark or mantaray will transport you to a state of delight and wonder at nature’s gifts.

Voted fourth of the top 10 beaches of the world (in a survey published by Guardian Unlimited website), 6km long Whitehaven Beach in the archipelago, is famous for its silica sand – pure white powder-size grains of quartz so fine, it can be used to polish your jewellery.

Alighting at Hardy Reef, also within the Whitsunday archipelago, allows visitors to discover a breathtaking undersea world. The seaplane flight always arrives at low tide on the reef and if you are a first time snorkeler it is good to know you are only in two to six metres of water.

At low tide, an incredible concentration of fish life inside the coral lake provides an eye-catching spectacle of colour, life and beauty among gracefully swaying coral, creating a mesmerising effect.

An ideal way to finish a day like this is to return to the luxury of The Pinnacles Resort and Spa, Airlie Beach, a five-star private apartment complex perched on top of a hill on the mainland the overlooks the Whitsunday Islands.

Deserted Islands and Tropical Fish 
If you have ever dreamed of being alone on a deserted island with your loved one, sharing a gourmet picnic and a bottle of champagne, then this is where dreams come true. A helicopter is the quickest way to create your ultimate castaway romantic adventure.

Cruising low over the hills and out through the Whitsunday passage your chopper pilot will seek out a deserted beach. With over 74 islands dotted throughout the Whitsunday group, there are many to choose from.

From the Hill Inlet scenic lookout nothing can prepare you for the impressive outlook and magnificence of the white swirling sands of Whitehaven Beach. The aqua blue lagoons and passageways formed through the Hill Inlet are a stunning sight to behold.

The Great Barrier Reef experience is an adventurous journey into nature and wilderness that will not disappoint, providing the ultimate great escape.


Connections from most major cities to Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine), Queensland. Virgin Blue Airlines and Jetstar Airways service this route.


Air Whitsunday Seaplanes
Tel: (61) 7 4946 9111
Aviation Adventures
Tel: (61) 7 4946 9988
Salty Dog Kayaking
Tel: (61) 7 4946 1388
Whitehaven Xpress
Tel: (61) 7 4946 7172
Pinnacles Resort & Spa
Tel: (61) 7 4948 4800


Air Whitsunday Seaplanes offer a range of panorama tours including a seaplane golf package and Hayman Island day trip. They will also collect you directly from your yacht.

Aviation Adventures are a premier helicopter operator. Helicopter rides start from USD$87. Tours include reef adventures, island day adventures, deserted island drop off and pick up, jet skiing, quad bike riding and hiking. Awesome Foursome Ultimate: skydive, quad bike, helicopter and jet ski all in one day.

Salty Dog Kayaking run at a very relaxed pace and allow lots of time for beach lazing, snorkelling. Their tours are suitable for beginners to experienced paddlers. Their guides have an intimate knowledge of the Whitsunday region and can customised tours to suit you. For the real adventurous you can do either a 2-day overnight camping expedition or a 6-day sea kayak adventure.

Whitehaven Xpress Boating provides a combination tour of Hill Inlet Hiking Trail, a few hours for relaxation and swimming on Whitehaven Beach plus a gourmet beach BBQ followed by an afternoon of snorkelling at Mantaray Bay.

Pinnacles Resort and Spa is 5 star apartment complex. Luxurious and spacious self-contained one, two and three bedroom apartments. Plasma TV in many apartments. Every apartment comes with a spa and outdoor balcony with the best views in Airlie Beach.

Photos by David Metcalf

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