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, the Heart Reef.
Since I am a travel addict, I always collect the brochures from various travel agencies. My favourite 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.
Do you want to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef? Read my scuba diving experience in the Great Barrier Reef.
About Heart Reef
The Heart Reef is one of the natural reefs in the Great Barrier Reef stretch of the Whitsunday islands on the east coast of Australia. It was discovered in 1975 by John Ramsden, one of the Whitsunday’s pilots. With a diameter of 17 metres, the Heart Reef is a composition of coral reefs in the shape of a heart and it is believed that the corals date back to about 20 million years ago. Since Heart Reef is protected, the only way to see the Heart Reef is to fly over it (helicopter or a seaplane).
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Flights to Airlie beach
Flight providers to Airlie beach
Tigerair sale days
Update!! Unfortunately, Tigerair Australia closed their operations because of the pandemic.
My childhood friend had messaged me, about a sale Tigerair had announced. On sale, 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.
Stay at Airlie beach
After booking my flight tickets, I started planning my itinerary by booking a dorm at the hostel – YHA Airlie beach and the tours for all the activities I wanted to sail in Whitsundays, take a sunset cruise and take the sea plane to see the stunning Heart Reef.
YHA Airlie Beach
The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) Airlie beach is a really cool place to stay when you are traveling alone and are looking for a budgeted accommodation. The rooms are clean and has some of the friendly people and staff. Also, it is very close to the city centre where there are many cafes and restaurants.
Other accommodation options
Sea plane tour to see the Heart Reef
One day before the seaplane ride
One day before the tour, 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, to ensure not to miss this tour at any cost.
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 the upgrade, but I decided to pause for a moment and talk to the YHA staff for alternate options. I spoke to the YHA reception staff to find out that there was another tour operated by GSL Aviation and that there was an availability for the next morning flight. I booked the tour with GSL Aviation for a cost of AUD 259 per person. The flight included the scenic views of White heaven beach, Hill Inlet, Heart Reef, Bait Reef, Hardy Reef and Hook Reef and flew at 2500 feet above sea level.
On the Seaplane
I got the best seat at the back, by the window. The views from the seaplane were magnificent. And I could see the corals from the plane, that were spectacular and so lively!
Tip: Make sure to either sit at the front of back of the plane to get uninterrupted views of the Heart Reef.
Because of its vibrant blue and green colours and having being the largest coral system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is said to be visible even from the satellites and space. While I was eagerly waiting for the Heart Reef, I spotted a Manta Ray too from the plane.
Tip: Definitely watch out for the Rays and turtles, you maybe lucky to spot them as well.
After few minutes of flying, finally there it was, the Heart Reef. I felt my heart melting. Oh My God! I was so mesmerized and stunned 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.
Tip: When you are traveling in Australia, make sure you put on your sunscreen as the sun is really harsh.
Safety for solo female travelers
The Whitsunday Islands and the Airlie beach are absolutely safe for solo female travelers. I have visited the place multiple times and most of the times alone and I have not had any issues whatsoever. However, like any other place, be careful, especially at night and know your surroundings at all times.
Are you new to solo traveling? Or do you want to start but not sure how and where? Read my guide to solo traveling.
The Heart Reef has been one of the best and the spectacular things I have ever seen in my life. It was totally worth the effort, the cost and the time. I would say seeing the Heart Reef must be on your travel list for Australia. And hey, after all even nature believes in love and that’s why we have the natural corals in a heart shape.
Have you visited the Heart Reef and the Whitsunday Islands? Let me know in the comments below.
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