10 Top Islands in the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is more than 2,000km long stretching along the coastline of Queensland in North East Australia. With thousands of coral cays and reef systems, exotic tropical islands and the most amazing marine life, this UNESCO World Heritage site is perfect for island hopping. Choose from more than 100 islands to visit, weaving their way from the infamous Whitsundays to beautiful isles in the north. One of the most relaxing ways to see this natural wonder of the world is definitely from the deck of a luxury superyacht.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve planned your yacht charter vacation to include days at the beach, diving in the deep blue waters or exploring the rainforests, the Coral Sea makes the ideal place to drop anchor. To give you an idea of what to look forward to, here are the 10 top islands you can find in the Great Barrier Reef.
1. Fitzroy Island
Located within the Inner Barrier of the reef’s Central Region, Fitzroy Island has it all. From lush rainforests to stunning white sandy beaches. The island even has its very own National Park teeming with wildlife, flora and fauna. It offers the perfect opportunity to swim, snorkel or kayak along the amazing sheltered reef or how about going on a walking trail to the Secret Garden or Nudey Beach. For turtle lovers there’s also a turtle rehabilitation centre close by.
2. Dunk Island
During your superyacht voyage, be sure to stop off at Dunk Island. It’s considered to be Australia’s most stunning rainforest island with virgin rainforests, golden sands, tropical gardens and crystal clear waters. There are plenty of outdoor activities here too. Check out the walking trails. One of the most popular crosses the island’s suspension bridge and goes to Mount Koo-Tal-Oo Lookout. When you reach the summit, don’t forget to capture those memorable holiday photographs.
3. Haggestone Island
Haggestone Island is a top of the range island retreat. Situated 600km north of Cairns, parallel to the spectacular Cape York Peninsular, it offers an absolute haven to travellers. Divers and snorkelers swim among the shipwrecks, the eye-catching coral gardens in the warm waters which are alive with fish. The island’s peaceful lagoon is perfect to cool off and relax in during a yacht charter vacation. Close by is the Outer Barrier Reef which boasts one of the largest green turtle rookeries.
4. Hamilton Island
Set sail for Hamilton Island with its all year-round sunshine, clear blue skies, beautiful blue waters and spectacular coral-fringed beaches. Located in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands Hamilton has the only airport in the Great Barrier Reef. On the island have a game of golf on the 18-hole green before eating in one of the popular restaurants. Visitors from around the world enjoy this luxury resort which also has a yacht club. If you intend dropping anchor here on your yacht charter vacation, during July-September, you may be lucky enough to see migrating whales.
5. Hinchinbrook Island
Hinchinbrook is home to the national park island of the Great Barrier Reef. You can find Hinchinbrook 5kms off the Queensland coast not far from Cardwell. The island is actually uninhabited apart from the environmental resort at Cape Richard. Many wildlife enthusiasts like to explore the mangrove everglades which are a breeding ground for many animals. Take a rain forest hike along the Thorshorne Trail, do a little bird spotting or just relax on one of the many beaches. Hinchinbrook Island is also rich in aboriginal history with a skyline dominated by the beautiful Mount Bowen.
6. Great Keppel Island
For a sub-tropical climate and outstanding natural beauty, Great Keppel Island offers both. The island is a peaceful sanctuary for a huge range of flora and fauna, as well as more than 100 species of birds. If you enjoy snorkelling, then you’re in luck. It’s one of the best snorkelling spots in the Great Barrier Reef. Check out Monkey Point, Clam Bay and Shelving Beach which have an abundance of underwater marine life. What’s more you’ll have your pick from one of the 17 tropical white sandy beaches where you can relax, heaven.
7. Whitsunday Island
Home to the magnificent White Haven beach, Whitsunday Island is the largest island within the Whitsundays chain. The 7km beach is now a top eco-friendly destination and ranked number one in the polls of the planet’s best beaches. Enjoy the picture-postcard setting with its sparkling sand and turquoise waters that roll gently onto the shore. Why not head to the Tongue Point lookout where you can admire the panoramic views?
8. Daydream Island
Known as the jewel of the Whitsundays, laid back Daydream Island is one of the seven islands of the Molle Group off the coast of Airlie Beach. Take a stroll to Lover’s Cove, a manmade outdoor aquarium named the Living Reef and Sun Lover’s Beach. Scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts love it here which is not surprising with more than 40 marine fish species and 50 varieties of coral. There’s also the opportunity for a hike or trek through the dense jungle where you can reach the peak of the island. Watch out for parrots and tiny sunbirds among the vegetation.
9. Long Island
Laid back is what best describes Long Island. It’s one of the most stunning isles of the Whitsundays and takes its name from the island’s long narrow appearance. Lying near the shore of Airlie Beach, Long Island has 13 sq km of National Park and tropical forest as well as 20 km of bush walking paths. You’ll have no problem finding exotic beaches and remote lookouts. Spend your days relaxing under the palm trees on the white coral beaches or swim in the turquoise waters. You never know you might find yourself swimming alongside dolphins, turtles and colourful fish.
10. Lizard Island
As part of your yacht charter itinerary in the Great Barrier Reef, head for Lizard Island. It’s an exclusive resort island with 24 white powdery beaches to enjoy. The island was named by Captain Cook in 1770 due to its large population of goannas. A national park covering 1013 hectares the island is also near Cod Hole. Island highlights include luxurious spa facilities, dining on the beach and even a coral reef research centre. Have you got what it takes to complete a self-guided nature walk to the 350m high Cooks Look? It’s definitely worth it for the awesome 360 degree panoramic views of the ocean.
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