Even though you read the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space, you can’t fully appreciate its scale until you are helicoptering towards it. At first it seems like a dot in the horizon, but then as you draw near it opens up all around you with a beautiful spectrum of blues and tans. We went out in the early am and (as suggested by our coincerege) took a semi-private helicopter. This was very good advice. We beat the tour company boats by about 2 hours and had the reef essentially to ourselves. Comparing the GBR to other reefs (in the Caribbean for instance) is like comparing New York City to pretty much any other city in the US…New York is just so much bigger…more vertical. We snorkeled over what seemed to be 30′ cliffs of coral. Hundreds of silverfish swam below us as sunlight shone through above. The colors…the amazing variety of marine life…the intense beauty…it was breathtaking and something you would never forget.
We started our Australian trip with this visit to the reef area and we suggest it as a great way to go. Flying from the US to Australia is no short trip. Instead of landing in a city (Sydney for instance) and feeling the panic to get going, we flew (direct) on to Hamilton Island (a resort island near the reef) and spent 3 days adjusting to the time zone difference (which made Sydney a lot more fun later).
Stay at Qualia resort…the best place you’ve never heard of. Great service…stylish…great breakfasts…and your wifi works all over the island! The spa design is inspired. Have a great massage…then take an outdoor shower and use the Aesop products (an Australian company)! Make sure you save a day to go to Wheathead Beach (the next island over…a short trip by boat). This famous beach is almost all silica-sand and is a stark-white against the blues of the water and the greens of the land. In the evening, head up to One Tree Hill for sunset (beautiful) and then have drinks on the deck of the convention center at the marina…a really nice way to wind down the beautiful days!