The pilot of the sea plane announced, “We have the Heart Reef coming up in 100 meters”. My heart skipped a beat! Was this the moment I was waiting for? For this long? I am finally going to see the most beautiful and romantic reef in the World – Heart Reef!
My Melbourne days (Year 2013):
Since I am a travel addict, I always collect the brochures from various travel agencies. My favorite pastime is to skim through these brochures and read about the places. One day while reading the brochure for Australian tourism, I saw a picture of the Heart Reef. It was one of the most beautiful pictures I had ever seen. On further researching, I found that Heart Reef is one of the natural reefs in the Great Barrier Reef of the Whitsundays. It was discovered in 1975 and has a composition of coral reefs in the shape of a heart (How cool is that!). Since Heart Reef is protected, the only way to see the Heart Reef is to fly over it (helicopter or a seaplane).
Tigerair sale days (September 2014):
My childhood friend Chaitra messaged me, about the sale Tigerair had announced (Thank you Chaitra!). The flight tickets, if traveled on a Thursday or a Tuesday, costed only $15 one way (less than a movie ticket, can you believe it!). I decided to travel on a Saturday (which was not part of the sale) and return on a Tuesday. Even though the travel period was about 8 months ahead, I booked my flight tickets. Thereafter, I started planning my itinerary by booking the accommodation at YHA Airlie beach (which is a cool place to stay when you are traveling alone and want a budgeted accommodation) and the tours for all the activities I wanted to do – Sailing in Whitsundays, Sunset cruise and the Sea Plane to see the stunning Heart Reef.
One day before the seaplane ride (May 2015):
I called the operator of Air Whitsunday Seaplanes, to confirm the pick-up time for ‘Reef and Whitehaven Scenic’ flight. I had booked this flight 3 months in advance, on a Valentines Day (How romantic, isn’t it?).
The operator checked my flight details and informed me that due to insufficient number of people the flight was called off. She gave me an option of upgrading myself to another flight which was running. But the catch was that the upgrade would cost me more than the price I paid for the first one (almost $100 more).
I was so disappointed, and was on the urge of booking, when my inner intelligent conscious interrupted me, ‘Talk to the YHA staff, they might have some options!’ I spoke to the YHA reception staff to find that there was one tour operated by GSL Aviation and that there was an availability for the next morning flight (Woohooo! God was on my side that day! 😀 ). I booked the tour.
On the Seaplane (May 2015):
I got the best seat (Of course I did! Adamant me). The views from the seaplane were magnificent. The corals were beautiful and so lively! Because of its vibrant blue green color and having being the largest coral system, the Great Barrier Reef is said to be even visible from the satellites. The flight included the scenic views of Whiteheaven beach, Hill Inlet, Heart Reef, Bait Reef, Hardy Reef and Hook Reef and flew at 2500 feet above sea level.
While I was eagerly waiting for the Heart Reef, I spotted a Manta Ray 🙂 (yaay, first time experience). Tip: Definitely watch out for the Rays and turtles, you maybe lucky to spot them as well.
After few minutes, finally, there it was – the Heart Reef. I felt my heart melting. OMG! I was so mesmerized by its beauty that I froze and did not click as many pictures as I wanted to. The experience was truly magical and lived up to its expectations and the hype.
Heart Reef has been one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. It was totally worth the effort and the time. I would say this is definitely a must do during a visit to Australia. And hey, after all even nature believes in love and that’s why we have the natural corals in a heart shape (like seriously!).