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!
This series is about practical ways travelers can help make a positive impact on the areas they visit.
Hi my beautiful,
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef was an incredible experience I will never forget. The whole experience brought me so much joy, exploring such a special corner of our planet has really been a dream of mine for so many years. And the sadness I feel when I hear of its degradation really breaks my heart. Enjoying the reef should be a joy experienced for generations to come. So if you are planning to visit this natural wonder of our world, here are a few tips to make sure your visit safeguards its beauty for many more years.
Choose An Accredited Company
There are a few key signs to look for if you want to choose an eco-friendly company. Ecotourism Australia and EarthCheck both provide two levels of certification in which tour operators can commit to using sustainable practices and high quality tourism experiences. These companies are actively protecting the environment by adhering to safe practices and maintaining the high standard of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). You can see the list of approved operators on the GBRMPA website.
Follow The Responsible Reef Practices
There are some basic rules to follow when in the water, whether you are snorkelling or scuba diving, these few guideline will save not only the reef from harm but also yourself. Here are just a few points to remember while on the reef.
Practice good scuba diving – have good buoyancy, be aware of your equipment and move slowly
Avoid holding or touching any part of the reef, including corals and animals
Observe animals like whales or turtles from a safe distance
Enhance the quality of your dive experience by learning about the environment you’ll visit
Don’t take anything from the reef including dead coral or shells
See the full list of responsible reef practices at GBRMPA.
Contribute To Citizen Science
As the reef is so large, it is quite a challenge for scientists to collect frequent information across the entire length of the reef, and that is where citizen science (and you!) come in. ‘Eye On The Reef’ is a way for every visitor to contribute towards the long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef by recording animals sightings, reef health data and other valuable information. However you are enjoying the reef, you can join in with citizen science by downloading the Eye On The Reef app and start contributing immediately to data collection. You can submit locations of animal sightings, photos of what you have encountered like marine pollution or coral spawning and it can also help you to identify the wildlife you come across.
Fight For The Planet
The biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change caused by humans. And this will only change with action. So start right now to help give the Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance of survival. So here are just a few things to do today for a better future.
Make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint
Commit to only taking one long haul flight per year
Change your diet to include more local produce and less animal products
Have your say at local council meetings and elections
Vote with your money by researching companies sustainability pledges.
I hope when you visit, you will take the time to explore the reef with the care it deserves and let it inspire you to help change its future.