Scores of islands are scattered off Australia, between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef, but Heron Island is actually on the reef. So where a trip to the reef from some islands means a long boat ride, on Heron the coral country is right at the front door.
Heron is not a large island (you can saunter around its white-sand perimeter in a hour), but it is a protected sanctuary for both sea turtles and birds; watching turtle hatchlings make their perilous journey to the sea is a prime activity around the Christmas season.
Still, it is the diving that’s the main attraction, centered on corals and fish (lionfish, butterfly fish, sharks, manta rays, and a cast of thousands). Heron is most certainly a resort island, and the clientele is heavily skewed toward the snorkel/scuba fraternity. With more than 20 top dive sites, most located less than 15 minutes away by boat, it’s easy to understand why.