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Heron Island Resort

4.0 out of 5.0

Recent guest reviews

Big change with the new owners and Peter the old Voyages manager back. Food had improved from terrible to being good and plenty of it. Managed to do a fishing trip this time as the boat had been repaired and caught some good fish, coral trout, red throat emperor and various perch. Island, the reef flats and the wild life are what we've been going for since 1982 and we've witnessed many changes. White breasted sea eagles pairing up for spring was a highlight also a hermit crab in a large baler shell on the reef flats at low tide.... If you've never been, now is the time, birds are coming back to pair and nest after winter at sea.

We just had 4 days at Heron - oh my, what a mindblowing place for people that love nature and wildlife. Obviously nature is the star - the reef - my 13 year old daughter got her open water PADI and my 16 year old son did 4 scuba dives - my wife and I did 4 snorkel dives off the boat. Tons of coral, colourful fish, occasionally sharks, giant rays and perhaps the best of it, giant sea turtles everywhere. The best experiences we had though were walking off the beach as the tide came in and swimming in shallows over the coral that surrounds the reef. There is such an abundance of life across the vast coral reefs all around the island, and you are face to face with it. Giant sea turtles come in to feast on the coral, 2 feet in front of you - Cowtail rays that are 8/9 feet long waft in right in front of you, reef sharks are all around....all very natural, unspoilt and serene. And the island is teeming with birds - egrits, wattle-birds and we even saw an eagle fly off the island and grab a fish out of the ocean! We had a bird sitting on our bed when we arrived - just to set the scene.... The resort is well organised, food is abundant and good quality, great bar (especially the lychee martinis!) for you to unwind and reflect on what you have seen during the day. Even a great funky band, DubArray in the evenings. But the resort is all about the reef/island habitat experience, and so it is not 5 star facilities/accommodation - but there is a spa, a shop that sells some good momentos of the island plus some nice fashion stuff. Probably more facilities than we were expecting, but the attention to detail is in the reef/island experience so diving, bird tours, reef walks etc which is all delivered extremely well. Dive teams are always on hand to provide advice, encouragement and equipment - thanks to Rick, Alison, Joseph, Taylor and Adam, and particularly to Kevin for meticulously looking after our daughter in the water. The rooms are a little sparse - limp pillows, slightly grimey showers etc but that is kind of the way it should be - this should not be a luxury getaway, a pamper place. When you are there you feel privileged to be there, to live alongside the birds and the marine life, to see the perfect sunsets that happened every night during our stay. We flew out from Gladstone on a seaplane, and what a brilliant way to see the reefs and to see Heron from the air. Big thanks to Robyn and Josh from Australia by Seaplane. All very special, I am getting goosebumps as I write this just remembering our time there. Beyond amazing.

We had been to 2 other Barrier Reef Islands in the last 2 months and were expecting the same attitude, you are here so amuse yourself but Heron exceeded our expectations. Firstly it only had max. 200 patrons, no day visitors and some 100 staff. It was friendly and laid back with marine biologists giving talks, taking walks on reef (ON THE SANDY PART at low tide, NOT THE CORAL!), BIRD WALKS, ISLAND WALKS, SHOWING FREE TALKS WITH FILM BOTH AT NIGHT AND SOME IN THE DAY. But the best part is in the water swimming in clear, clean aquamarine water above coral and swimming with harmless reef sharks, turtles, large reef fish and at least 4 different types of rays. Manta, eagle, shovel nosed and stingrays. We also saw whales breaching off the Island. I read some people complain about bird noises and droppings but it is a bird nesting sanctuary so for those people I say if you can't live with nature then think again and go to a sterile, posh hotel. Even the economy rooms are well appointed with a king bed, en-suite, lounge chairs, fridge and tea and coffee making plus a covered deck to sit outside. The accommodation is simple but roomy and clean with every convenience, The restaurant is a tad expensive and the only place to eat other than snacks at the bar. The food was OK but I heard a new chef was soon arriving to shake up the food quality and menu. We took a freezer bag with snacks, bread, fruit and salad to picnic. Everything here is concerned with the environment down to treating the sewage on the island and using desalinated water and garbage to the mainland. We had five amazing friendly nights and are thinking of a return visit. Other than Lord Howe Island and the Galapagos his is the most environmentally natural place we have visited. WOW!

If you are looking for a five star luxurious holiday resort this is not for you! But if you’re after time away from the real world and getting back to nature this is the place for you. No internet or television. We stayed in a turtle room and were pleasantly surprised how lovely it was. Plenty of room no ocean view but that didn’t matter. The reef walk with Rachel was fantastic, she was so informative and passionate- a must do. We snorkelled off the beach and saw turtles,rays reef sharks and beautiful coral. Snorkeling and diving from the boats are wonderful as well. Our guide was Rick, great. The semi submersible was interesting and gave a different perspective of the reef. We went on a fishing charter and caught coral trout and red throat emperor which the chef cooked for our dinner, yum. The food is good. We found the buffet breakfast was plentiful but was not hot. There was a good variety of dinners, buffets and limited al-la-carte. Bailie’s bar was a good place to hang out and watch the sunset, but the birds will try and steal your food and drink. The staff were wonderful, all of them. The only downside is the alcohol was expensive and the food was limited. If you love the reef this is the place to go!

Sharks, Turtles and Rays and that's just off the breach. The snorkelling was great withy the dive crew. In August the birds were not a worry. Where else in the world can you stay on the reef, go walking at low tide and at high tide be in 4 feet of water and surrounded by 20 reef sharks - amazing. I was a little concerned by negative reviews but PEOPLE - you are at a 3.5 start resort on the reef, that's why you are there. Expensive , yes, but worth it, no 2 hours boat trip back to Cairns or PD each day. We will be back with more family.

Recommended by a friend who went there when the only way to arrive was by helicopter. Now you can take a ferry for a LOT less money (but it only runs 5 days a week, once a day, so you'll need to plan carefully). The resort is fine, not super deluxe, but not bad. We weren't there to hang out in the room, we were there to dive and snorkel. Had a refresher course in the pool the day of dive, the instructor (I think it was Phillip) was so kind and very encouraging. (I'm a fearful diver). My kid got to do a "mini" course, so that he could go diving with me, 2 other divers and the instructor. You can't go below a certain depth with this course and you have to be over 12 years old. I went with a larger group later in the day and it was magical. Huge fish, sea turtles, live coral everywhere. And this place is far enough off shore (about 65 miles) so that there are no day trippers. You have all the dive sites to yourself. Suggestions: ***MAKE DIVE RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE***. many people arrive and figure they'll plan the dives when they get there---this is a bad idea. At least reserve dives for the first 1-2 days that you are there, because (especially if it's busy) there may not be room for you on the dive boat at the time you want to go. If you haven't been diving in over 1-2 years, take the refresher course (AUS$200, includes one dive and all the equipment for the day) The food is pretty good, there is a large buffet for breakfast (I think it's included in the room cost). Other meals are fairly expensive and are fine, but nothing exceptional. If you're going for a short time, it would save a lot of money to bring snacks and lunch stuff with you. The rooms (except for a few) don't have AC. We were there in the winter time (July), so it wasn't hot and the birds weren't breeding (so it wasn't loud and stinky, as others have mentioned in the past). The island itself is beautiful, white sugar sand beach that you can walk all the way around in 30 minutes. Calendar-picture-worthy sunrises and sunsets, so it's worth getting up early. And don't miss the Milky Way at night--no light pollution here!

In planning our 2 weeks trip to Australia – Heron Island was a must. What a wonderful place – we spent three days on Heron Island, which is on the southern end of the barrier reef. To get to the island was a two hours boat ride, from Gladstone, Queensland – check in was efficient and our luggage was handled right up to the cabin, likewise on the return. Our rooms, a family 4 adults and 2 kids (5 and 1 ½ years) were the Turtle family room (a queen and two singles) and we had two cabins, they were adequate, but the cabins were showing their age. There is only one restaurant at the resort, The Shearwater – as we were on a full meal play we had breakfast which was always a buffet and good; lunch and dinner was ok (it was the same menu daily). The one very good dinner was the buffet on the first night and I thought they used what was served on the buffet for the rest of the week. The children’s dinner nightly was a buffet - chicken fingers with fries and ice cream for dessert. The diving and snorkeling on Heron Island was amazing – the staff in the dive shop and the scuba instructors were great, they even outfitted our 5 year in a wet suit and flippers. My family dove a couple of times and they raved about the corals, sea life and scenery - sharks, rays, turtle within easy reach. There were many activities that the guests could participated in – star gazing in the night, amazing as to what stars you could see so beautiful and clear; reef walking, tour of the University of Queensland research facility; guided island walk, reef walk, turtle walk in season and semi-submersible boat to mention a few. The other facilities on Heron Island is Baillie's Bar & Pandanus Lounge - the best place to watch the sun go down with drink in hand and the pool is near Baillie’s Bar – great view of the reef. Wonderful visit to Heron Island and we would return when we are in Australia next.

We stayed a week on the island and loved every minute. Beautiful walks, snorkelling, scuba diving, the underwater world is amazing. The staff are great and genuinely friendly. We absolutely loved the musical night entertainment provided by Tony & Kris from beautifully mad. These guys are amazing performers and beautiful people. Highly recommend a visit (accommodation is basic but clean)

I visited Heron Island with my family, 2 adults/2 teenagers and we had an amazing time. The staff is amazing, especially the scuba dive instructors, the island is beautiful, the weather was amazing. We went specifically for the location, it being on the Southern GBR for diving, and it was the best diving we’ve ever seen. The scuba guides were fun and very helpful. We definitely want to go back!

My husband and I visited Heron Island Resort as part of our honeymoon in Australia. We both thoroughly enjoyed the 5 days we spent on Heron Island. Experience: Although my husband is a scuba diver, I am not, so I cannot comment on the quality of scuba diving here. I am a snorkeler though and I really enjoyed the great snorkeling around Heron Island! I went on 3 boat trips to different nearby reef locations for snorkeling. The marine staff who serve as guides on the snorkel trips are all friendly and approachable. They emphasize safety in the water and welcome questions. In addition to boat trips, my husband and I also snorkeled from the beach, in the harbor (at appropriate times) and out to the wreck. The coral and sea life you will see here is fantastic. I saw many turtles, reef sharks, rays, colorful fish, and interesting coral. The resort can provide you with all the gear you need. I found the water to be cold, but I was fine with the wetsuit I rented. The resort offers daily activities, which are free of charge, with their knowledgeable guides This was great for me to do while my husband spent time under water! I participated in a nature walk and a bird walk, both led by Melissa, who was awesome. I enjoyed learning about the island history, the plants, and the many birds on the island. We visited during nesting season for several species of birds which was cool. It was fun to learn about their behaviors and then watch them in action. With thousands of birds on island, yes, there is a lot of bird poop on the ground and in the trees. Yes, the birds can be loud at night, but you get used to it. Just accept it a part of nature and part of the experience. The resort also shows documentary films free of charge and we saw a great one by David Attenborough. By far the highlight of my time on Heron Island was seeing the sea turtles!!! Every morning I went for an early morning walk (5:30a) and saw female turtles nesting and then make their way back to the sea. On our last morning, my husband and I actually got to watch a turtle while she dug her egg chamber in the sand then we sat right next to her while she laid the eggs. It was amazing. These are such beautiful creatures and it was a privilege to get to witness this. I loved it. Accomodations: We stayed in a Wistari suite. Our room and bathroom were both clean. This room had a mini fridge There is only 1 restaurant at the resort, The Shearwater. Breakfast was good. For dinner however, the food was not good and too expensive. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on Heron Island. It was a very special part of our honeymoon :)

Via Gladstone Heron Island QLD

Hotel highlights

  • Free hot/cold buffet breakfast
  • Onsite dining
  • Spa
  • Private beach

Heron Island Resort is adjacent to popular attractions such as Heron Island Dock and The University of Queensland - Heron Island Research Station. This 109-room, 4-star resort has a private beach, a full-service spa, and free breakfast.


Start your day off right with a free hot/cold buffet breakfast offered each morning. Enjoy a bite to eat at the resort's restaurant, or relax with a drink at the bar/lounge. Order from room service to satisfy your hunger without leaving your room.


The bathroom offers hair dryers, free toiletries, and bathrobes. Other standard amenities include a balcony, a refrigerator, and a minibar.

Property features

Guests of Heron Island Resort have access to a private beach, a full-service spa, and an outdoor pool. If you drive, self parking is AUD 10 per night, or you can take advantage of the airport shuttle during limited hours. The 24-hour front desk has staff standing by to help with concierge services and securing valuables. Other amenities at this beach resort include WiFi in public areas, express check-out, and a terrace.

Room options

Family Room

Queen 1 | Sleeps 4

Reef Room

Queen 1 | Sleeps 3

Family Room (Reef)

Full 1 | Sleeps 4

Reef Family Room

Full 1 | Sleeps 4

Reviews from Trip Advisor

Trip Advisor aggregated rating

77.0% of guests recommend this hotel

Total of 1841 reviews