Of Heron’s many fish-filled dive sites, the most beautiful may be Blue Pools. A little bay to the west of the island and sheltered by the edge of the Heron reef, the pools are essentially current free, so snorkelers can relax and enjoy the watching the local fish clans cruise the corals. Are you into numbers? A coral reef research station on the island estimates that more than half of the 1.500 fish species on the Great Barrier Reef can be seen here.
Heron island is just one gem in the Whitsundays, Australia’s favorite cruising waters. But before you sail too far off into the sunset, head south to Fitzroy Lagoon (a favorite snorkeling day-trip from the island), with a dive stop at the Fitzroy Bommies, a pair of large coral heads that attract multitudes of marine life.
Measure the seasons with birds, turtles, and whales. Bird activity (black noddies and shearwaters predominating) peaks from December through February, about the same time as sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea. If humpback whales strike a chord with you, plan to be on the island June through September to catch them on their northern migration.