If there is one thing you must do while in Airlie Beach, it is this. Taking a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands was one of my top three experiences of my whole year in Australia. Although a little pricey, the incredible views were just breath-taking.
I had completed my PADI Open Water Cousre in Cairns which took us on a three day liveaboard visiting some beautiful reefs and exploring some of the uderwater life. And it was great to see the individual animals, corals and species up close. But I think to understand the sheer size of the reef, seeing it from above it so great.
You can find lots of companies along the main road in Airlie Beach to fly with, so ask around and get a feel for what you’ll get. I went with GSL Aviation on their Reef & Islands tour which lasts 60 minutes and included pick up/drop off from your hotel.
Right from take off, there is a full commentary from the pilot talking all about the reef system, islands and some history of the area which gave me an insight into the history of the islands. It was perfect weather and the turquoise waters were alive with colour.
We had views of Conway National Park, Airlie Beach, and the Whitsunday Islands where I had spent the last three days sailing around. We had incredible views of Hill Inlet and the famous Whitehaven Beach which was exactly how you see it on postcards. Past the Whitsunday Islands, you reach the extensive reef systems and you see the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef. We glided above the iconic heart reef where we circled around so each side of passengers could get a photo.
So if there is one activity to splash out on while in the Whitsundays, this would be it. Seeing the extensive reef system from the sky was magical and so worth the money. Have you ever been to the Whitsundays? Let me know in the comments below!