The Great Barrier Reef: What experience is right for you? Posted by Gemma Christie - 15 January 2016 On Hamilton Island, exploring the Great Barrier Reef is the number one, must do activity people want to tick off while staying with us. Every day, guests with different likes and dislikes, ages and skill levels, travel styles and budgets ask us the golden question: what Great Barrier Reef experience is right for me? It’s a great question and one we encourage people to ask well before landing on our slice of tropical island paradise. Thanks to Hamilton Island’s idyllic location at the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, when researching their getaway, guests often find they’re faced with a multitude of different ways to travel out to this natural wonder and explore what lies below the surface. This is both fantastic and at times, overwhelming. The good news is: there is a Great Barrier Reef experience to suit every type of traveller at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong – every Great Barrier Reef experience promises to be a memorable one! To help you along with your research, here is a quick and easy guide to help you narrow down your options. Below are three different travel personalities. Pick the one that most sounds like you and have a read through the Reef experiences we believe will work best for you. Happy researching and more importantly, happy day dreaming! Your upcoming Great Barrier Reef experience will no doubt go down as one of the best you’ve had to date. What type of traveller are you? Luxury Lover This is me to a tee Family Traveller This is my clan Adventurer This is how I roll Luxury Lover I don’t like crowds and I do like champagne. If I’m going to tick the Great Barrier Reef off my bucket list, I want to do it in absolute style. Luxury Lover Recommended Experience 1: Reef Comber with Hamilton Island Air Why you’ll love it: Flying in chic seaplane luxury in a small group of no more than eight people is a great way to travel. As you do, we promise you will be blown away by the view of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays. Better still, in no time you’ll find yourself in the water exploring below the surface, importantly snorkelling away from the crowds, in your own secluded marine haven. What’s involved?: A scenic seaplane flight (half hour there and back) offering plenty of nose-against-window-jaw-opened time followed by snorkelling from a luxurious private glass bottom boat, ongoing expert information from your local guide and a glass of post snorkelling bubbles and a bite to eat – all before you’re whisked back to island paradise after your experience of an lifetime. Reef perfection! The memories you’ll cherish: Seeing the beauty of Whitehaven and Hill Inlet for the first time as you soar over the Whitsundays. Swimming through a school of fish and feeling the flutter of fins on your face. Sipping a glass of sparkling as you soak up the beauty of the reef. Hands down – Heart Reef. The photos you will have seen is exactly the photo you can hope to capture yourself either on your phone or with a professional camera. It’s truly that beautiful that we can hand on heart say no filter or editing will be required! The photo op you can’t miss: Hands down – Heart Reef. The photos you will have seen is exactly the photo you can hope to capture yourself either on your phone or with a professional camera. It’s truly that beautiful that we can hand on heart say no filter or editing will be required! More about Reef Comber Luxury Lover Recommended Experience 2: Best of Both Worlds with Hamilton Island Air Why you’ll love it: If you want to make the most of your Whitsundays getaway and you’re passionate about ticking off your “must do” bucket list, this experience is worth every cent. This unique helicopter tour gives you plenty of time on Whitehaven Beach AND out at the Great Barrier Reef, not to mention flying over over the famed Heart Reef too. We promise you’ll be left awestruck at every stop. What’s involved?: An hour soaring in a helicopter above the Whitsundays (half hour there and back), one hour to soak up the beauty of Whitehaven Beach including a beach picnic complete with sparkling wine to toast the occasion and two hours at Reefworld (at a time when you’ll avoid the crowds) to get your snorkel on and explore the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef to your heart’s content. The memories you’ll cherish: Feeling like a celebrity as your pilot whisks you from one stunning location to the next. Scrunching the fine Whitehaven Beach sand of between your toes. Snorkelling while captivated by the colours and unique textures of the coral only metres below the surface. The photo op you can’t miss: The helicopter has landed and your picnic has been set up. Your sparkling has been poured and your ready to cheers the occasion. You can’t help but want to capture your perfect Whitehaven Beach moment. Not many picnics in your lifetime will beat this one! More about Best of Both Worlds Adventurer I’m after the ultimate experience and to get it, I’m willing to give anything a go. Dive, swim and explore – I want to see it all. Adventurer Recommended Experience 1: Scuba Dive with Explore Why you’ll love it: Completely immerse yourself in the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef on this intimate scuba dive tour (you’ll love the size of the small group) which will take you away from the crowds to the less visited areas of the Great Barrier Reef. You can be confident it will be a great dive too as high quality equipment and a custom-built dive boat are both guaranteed. What’s involved?: If you’re a first timer, don’t worry as an introduction to scuba diving course will quickly get you up to speed. Once done, cruise out to the reef and when all geared up, take the plunge below the surface. The radiant underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef is yours to explore. The memories you’ll cherish: Swimming among hundreds of vibrant fish including giant gropers and sprightly turtles. Catching a prized glimpse of a hump back whale and her calf – depending on the season. Reminiscing with the group post dive as you gaze out over the ocean expanse and Whitsunday Island bliss. The photo op you can’t miss: Hand your underwater camera to a trusty dive buddy and ask for a photo of you engulfed in an eclectic swarm of marine life. It’s a memory that will take you back to the thrilling moment every time. More about Scuba Diving Adventurer Recommended Experience 2: Reefsleep with Cruise Whitsundays Why you’ll love it: Sleeping in a swag under the stars on a pontoon in the middle of Great Barrier Reef has to be the ultimate Whitsundays adventure. Your overnight stay at Reefworld will have you snorkelling the reef by day, taking in the tranquillity of the ocean after dark and rising to the spectacular colours of the sun peering over the horizon. Nature lovers at heart, you can’t leave the Whitsundays without a tick in this box. What’s involved?: After a cruise out to Reefworld, jump in and get snorkelling straight away. Once the daylight fades, a night dive is on the cards for the brave among the small group (max 12) or you can settle into your swag or cabin for a good night’s rest. Exploring the reef is on the agenda once again when you wake before cruising back to Hamilton Island paradise later that afternoon. The memories you’ll cherish: Diving into the water at the same time your expert guide throws fish food. The sudden appearance of fish from every direction is beyond belief! Tucking yourself into your swag and admiring the sea of stars above – a view of the night sky we rarely get to appreciate. Waking up to the warmth of the sun as it rises over the ocean. The photo op you can’t miss: The sunrise promises to be spectacular. It’s rare you’ll ever get to wake up in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef every again so be sure to set your alarm and have your camera ready to capture every radiant burst of colour. More about Reefsleep Family Traveller I want to know the whole family will have fun. We have young kids so need a GBR experience that is right for them. Family Traveller Recommended Experience 1: Reefworld Day Trip with Cruise Whitsundays Why you’ll love it: Cruising out to the reef with the family will be a joy on the 24 meter purpose built catamaran. Once you arrive, the kids will love Reefworld as they jump in and out of the water and gaze at the fish in the underwater viewing chamber. You’ll love the family friendly amenities on board too such as change rooms, bathrooms, a shop to buy drinks and snacks and plenty of all important shade. What’s involved?: After your boat ride out to Reefworld, the family will be left to enjoy the day swimming snorkelling or relaxing. All equipment is provided plus a yummy buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea for hungry little mouths. For anyone who has had enough of snorkelling, the underwater viewing chamber or the Groper viewing hole are both great fun too! The memories you’ll cherish: The huge smile on the kids’ faces after seeing the schools of fish and coral for the first time. The squeals of excitement as an impressive groper swims past – either while snorkelling or watching on from the viewing hole. Spotting a real life Nemo swimming among the coral! The photo op you can’t miss: The kids grouped together with their colourful snorkels on ready to splash into the ocean below. It’s an experience the family will no doubt talk about for many years to come. More about the Reefworld Day Trip Family Traveller Recommended Experience 2: Snorkel off Catseye Beach with Hamilton Island Beach Sports Why you’ll love it: When travelling with little ones, a full day out on the water often isn’t a possibility given their routine. However if you’re still keen to snorkel, the fringing reef just off the Hamilton Island coast makes for the perfect, quick reef experience that you can squeeze into your day whenever you have an hour or two to spare. Best thing about it, when staying with us on Hamilton Island, the snorkel hire is completely free! What’s involved?: Take the family down to Catseye Beach and set up somewhere in shade. While you or your partner looks after the kids, send the other off to the Beach Sports Hut to hire a snorkel. Ask for some tips as to where the best place is to snorkel and head on your way. You’ll be amazed at the coral and marine life so close to shore. The memories you’ll cherish: Swimming with the local Hamilton Island turtles. Marvelling at the vibrant coral formations so close to the coastline. Emerging for a breath of air and soaking up the stunning view of Hamilton Island paradise. The photo op you can’t miss: Take your underwater camera and see if you can get a selfie with a turtle. If you can nail it, both you and your kids will think it’s one of the best shots of the holiday! The photo op you can’t miss: Take your underwater camera and see if you can get a selfie with a turtle. If you can nail it, both you and your kids will think it’s one of the best shots of the holiday! More about Catseye Beach About the Author As Hamilton Island’s Communications Manager, Gemma is passionate about both writing and all things to do with Hamilton Island tropical island paradise. Sharing all the news, insights and interesting stories from the destination perfectly combines both loves. When not writing, Gemma can be found dancing for no reason, going out for breakfast, soaking up the beach or spending time with her family doing all of the above.