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South of Cairns

Where the rainforest descends to eucalypt forest with bays, beaches and rocky headlands along the east coast with more Great Barrier Reef diving and snorkeling along the way!


Fill your days exploring by land or sea and visit the town’s treasure trove of activities.

Home to one of the world’s top dive sites-the historic S.S. Yongala Shipwreck or see the reef without getting your feet wet – the town boasts the much-lauded Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. The world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, this educational centre boasts a 2.5 million litre exhibition, and a rehabilitation centre for sea turtles. The reef also brings the Museum of Underwater Art’s inaugural sculpture “Ocean Siren” to life, which can be seen from The Strand Jetty as it changes colour according to the temperature of the water. Back in town itself, there’s more than enough offerings to keep guests entertained. Days can be spent trawling the collection of cafes, boutiques and
galleries, or the wander along the waterfront promenade The Strand. Make the trek up to the top of Castle Hill to see 360-degree views and the chance to enjoy the stunning sunsets.

  • M.Y. Flying Fish
  • Arvdo
  • The Ville Resort-Casino

Orpheus Island Lodge

Orpheus Island Lodge is an island paradise accommodating just 28 guests on the Great Barrier Reef. Showcasing a plethora of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the island’s fringing reefs boast 1,100 of the 1,500 species of fish on the reef and 340 of the 359 varieties of hard corals. The local waters are a fishing haven and teeming with sought-after reef species. Guests can take the helm of a motorised dinghy, with gourmet picnic, and discover the many private coves that envelope Orpheus. Not to be missed is Dining with the Tides; an intimate degustation dinner under a starlit canopy on the jetty.

Yongala Wreck Dive

Recently voted in the top 10 wreck dives of the world, the shipwreck SS Yongala, Australia’s largest and most intact historical shipwreck is 100m long and 15-30m deep. Come face-to-face with the charismatic mega marine life of the world heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. For advanced divers, this is a diving experience for those with a sense of adventure, a passion to explore, to learn about the tragic history and to witness marine life matched by few other places on the face of this planet. Don’t forget your permit!

Pelorus Island

The Great Barrier Reef’s much loved Pelorus Island is poised to undergo a major transformation with the addition of a private boutique retreat. A 30-minute helicopter flight from Townsville, or accessible to guests via private yacht, the retreat is situated on an unspoilt sandy spit at the south-west corner of the island. The tropical hideaway is embraced by white sandy beaches, superb coral gardens and a lush verdant hillside. Boasting five luxuriously-appointed and expansive suites and best shared with family and friends, the exclusive residence will be ideal for intimate groups who wish to share a memorable getaway together.

Magnetic Island

Only a 20 minute cruise is a tropical continental island with fringing reefs, so
grab a snorkel and explore the kaleidoscopic colours or paddle board and kayak to discover the surrounding marine park. Hike along the bounty of national park reserves, explore hidden beaches, and meet the koalas that call the island home.


A patchwork of 74 bold green shapes lying in a turquoise sea make up the islands of the Whitsundays.

Located just off the east Queensland coast, this continental group is home to untouched sun-soaked beaches with sand as fine as powder. Expect well protected anchorages, coral reefs, lush bushland, impressive granite peaks and some remarkable flora, fauna and sea life.

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is the tourist hub of the Whitsundays region, being the largest town on the Whitsunday Coast with all the necessary facilities for visiting Superyachts. Enjoy a short five minute stroll from Coral Sea Marina Resort to the vibrant township and it’s lively nightlife. Coral Sea Marina Resort is the perfect base for larger Superyachts in the Whitsundays with berths available to 80m/5m LAT.

Fantastic local provisions are readily available in Airlie Beach, along with many entertainment options, leisure activities, dining and shopping. The marina precinct itself has a range of dining and bar options, all perfect for crew relaxation.

Whitehaven Beach

Located on Whitsunday Island this is a 7km long scimitar shaped beach touted as one of the world’s 10 best. Seeing Whitehaven Beach for the first time is
unforgettable, especially from the south via Solway Pass. Its sand is a fraction short of pure silica and as fine as talcum powder and can been seen from the moon. At the northern end is the pristine Hill Inlet and Tongue Bay. The silica sands are continually shifting, creating swirling patterns. This feature is best appreciated from the lookout on the tip of Tongue Point and fabulous to paddle ski down at high tide. Close by on Haslewood Island is Chalkies Beach which boasts small coral reefs and is almost always deserted.

Hamilton Island

Largest of the 6 inhabited islands, Hamilton Island has a fully serviced commercial airport, splendid restaurants, five star accommodation as well as over 60 different activities. Superyachts up to 50m can either berth in the marina as well as anchoring in Dent Passage with island access via tender. A luxury concierge service is available on the island to make your visit seamless.

The marina side of the island bustles with people, restaurants and bars. The stunningly designed Hamilton Island Yacht Club and the world renowned qualia resort is close by. Looking out over to Dent Island is where you will find a world-class 18 hole golf course and club house. Up and over the hill, your golf buggy will take you to the main accommodation side and private residences of
the island. Hamilton Island, with its slopes overlooking Catseye Bay, is the pacific version of Porto Cervo with unique Australian flavour.

Dive Sites South of Cairns

Heart Reef

19˚46.41˙S – 149˚14.55˙E

A beautiful composition of coral that has naturally formed into the shape of a heart, sitting in its own reef lagoon. Located within Hardy Reef, Heart Reef is unforgettable and best seen from the air.

Hook Reef – Caves & Canyons

19˚44.822˙S – 149˚10.923˙E
Intermediate Dive

This site features a 60m wall with a 20m shelf. Making for a great exploration dive, this shelf is dotted with scores of bommies. Also on offer a number of beautiful coral gardens with exceptional overhangs that provides for wonderful photographic opportunities of some gorgonian fans. Mackerel, tuna and Indian steephead are regularly seen as are whales. Depth from 2m to 60m. Visibility from 5m to 35m

Butterfly Bay

20˚04.2˙S – 148˚55.7˙E

Fascinating exploring along the beach and reef.

Bait Reef – Manta Ray Drop Off

19˚48.399˙S – 149˚04.279˙E
Advanced Dive

Boasts spectacular underwater cliffs and a plunging wall that drops off to 30m. The wall is covered with gorgonians, soft coral trees, sponges and sea whips. Depth from 3m to 36m. Visibility from 12m to 30m.

Bait Reef – Gary’s Lagoon

19˚48.399˙S – 149˚04.279˙E
Novice Dive

Gary˙s Lagoon is well protected, making it an ideal site for snorkelers and beginner divers. The coral cover here is excellent and the lagoon makes for easy diving before venturing out into deeper water just outside the
entrance. The lagoon is home to all sorts of tropical marine life including large soft corals, reef fish, turtles, wobbegongs and the occasional manta ray. Depth from 4m to 18m. Visibility from 10m to 20m.

Bait Reef – Stepping Stones

19˚48.399˙S – 149˚04.279˙E
Intermediate / Advanced Dive

A series of 18 or more flat-topped coral pinnacles forming “stepping stones”. These coral pinnacles provide many interesting channels and caves for divers to explore. It features large areas of plate coral with fields of blue staghorn coral, schools of batfish, giant maori wrasse, moray eels and an abundant variety of other tropical fish. Snorkeling across the top of the Stepping Stones is particularly inspiring. Depth from 4m to 30m. Visibility from 10m to 30m

Luncheon Bay

20˚03.7˙S – 148˚56.97˙E
Novice Dive

Good shallow coral cover to 8m to 10m. Large bommie on eastern point. Good snorkeling all along the bay. Visibility from 3m to 5m. Diving depth 3m to 5m.

Manta Ray Bay

20˚03.612˙S – 148˚ 57.468˙E
Novice Dive

Some of the best underwater scenery in the Whitsundays. Manta Ray Bay, at Hook Island has an array of underwater valleys, caves, and swim-throughs leading all the way to the sea floor 25m below. Considered one of the best dive and snorkel sites in the inshore islands. Manta Ray Bay has a good coverage of hard and soft corals and abundant marine life including maori wrasse and manta rays in winter. This area is also good for guided snorkeling. Depth from 3m to 25m. Visibility from 5m to 30m.

Saba Bay

20˚06.9˙S – 148˚56.96˙E

On the north eastern side of Hook Island has an abundance of marine life and some beutiful soft corals to be explored.

Border Island/Cateran Bay

20˚09.2˙S – 149˚02.1˙E

Delightful anchorage with very good coral in the bay.

Lindeman Island

20˚26.8˙S – 149˚02.5˙E

Great walking tracks through vine forests and valleys full of butterflies. Sweeping panorama from Mt. Oldfield.

Thomas Island

20˚32.8˙S – 149˚06.64˙E

Lovely anchorage with a beautiful sand beach, accessible through a break in the coral. Perfect picnic spot.

Shaw Island

20˚29.05˙S – 149˚04.7˙E

Many beautiful bays and beaches, protected in all wind conditions.


Gladstone city is surrounded by two rivers, and in between them in the heart of the city lies a natural, deepwater harbour where the Gladstone Ports Corporation and Gladstone Marina are based. The city along with the port and marina are protected by two outlying islands – Curtis Island and Facing Island.

The marina area has been developed with stunning parklands close by including Spinnaker Park and East Shores on either side of the marina entrance. They both offer excellent walking trails, cafés plus a swimming
beach and great views across the inlet.

An easy walk across the waterway is the Gladstone Yacht Club, known for its Sundowners in the Beer Garden right on the waterfront. Further along is the East Shores Precinct, a recreational destination running between the waterfront and Flinders Parade offering relaxed activities for families, an outdoor cinema and other attractions.

Gladstone offers a range of entertainment and cultural experiences including the Maritime Museum and the Regional Art Gallery and Museum, housed in the Heritage-listed Town Hall building, colonial buildings in the CBD and a wide variety of bars and restaurants.

Heron Island

Heron Island is a small coral cay of 29 hectares located just 80km northeast of Gladstone, and lies in the Capricorn Group of islands of the GBR close to the Tropic of Capricorn. Access to the island itself is through the Heron Island Resort via ferry, helicopter and seaplane.

It has long been known as a premier dive destination and was visited by Sir David Attenborough several decades ago, who described it as ‘his most magical place on earth’.It is also popular with the green and logger turtles which return to breed and lay eggs from September to March each year

Lady Musgrave Island

Lady Musgrave Island is the second most southern island in the reef and is the only coral island on the GBR with a navigable lagoon. Although small at only 14 hectares of coral cay, with its 1,192 hectares of surrounding reef it over delivers on both exceptional underwater experiences and tranquil secluded above-water activities.

For diving and snorkelling experiences in and around Lady Musgrave Island, secure the services of a local tour operator from Gladstone, who can advise vessels on the channel entry and provide local knowledge for the best scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing spots both in and outside the reef. They can also advise on the best anchorage areas inside the reef. Visitors to Lady Musgrave Island can go ashore and enjoy snorkelling off the beach, local birdlife and isolated lazy walks followed by relaxed refreshments on the sand.

Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island is the southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef. The island is only 46 hectares and is managed by the Lady Elliot Eco-Resort operating privately since 2005. Accessible only by ferry or plane, departure ports in the region are from Bundaberg, and Hervey Bay on the Fraser Coast.

Lady Elliot Island sits within the protected ‘green zone’ of the GBRMP and is known as the ‘Home of the Manta Ray’ for its abundance of manta rays, turtles and over 1,200 other marine life species, due to its easterly location benefiting from the Eastern Australian Current. The diverse corals on the reef surrounding Lady Elliot Island are in excellent condition and divers can enjoy a wonderful mix of hard and soft corals along with the local marine life. Lady Elliot Island also has Master Reef Guides available to visitors

Town of 1770 and Agnes Water

South of Gladstone are the two beachside communities of Seventeen Seventy (1770) and Agnes Water. The town of 1770 is famous for being named after then-Lieutenant James Cook and his crew from the Endeavour who came ashore there on 24 May 1770. The township has built up around Cook’s landing site and celebrates every May with the Captain Cook 1770 Festival. Tours out to Lady Musgrave Island also leave from 1770.

Agnes Water operates as the local service town but is more known for its white sandy beaches and for being the most northern surf beach on the east coast of Australia before the Great Barrier Reef.

To go ashore, book a friendly local tour operator for a half or full day tour to take guests around the historic sites of 1770 including a relaxed 30-minute walk to the lookout. Finish the day with a refreshing surf at Agnes Water. There is a public jetty for easy tender pick-up and drop-off located just south of the Volunteer Marine Rescue base next to the local marina. Watch the depth here at all times as waters can be shallow.