Heron Island – Great Barrier Reef

Heron Island oceanswimsafari

November 14-19, 2021
(… maybe whales will be hanging around, too)

STOP PRESS: Due to strong demand, we have added another Heron Island oceanswimsafari in November 2021. If you are interested, we suggest you get in quick. Our earlier Heron Island oceanswimsafaris all have sold out very quickly.

This is the return of one of the most popular locations on the oceanswimsafaris calendar. Heron Island is part of a cluster of islands at the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef. It's a national park, which means the area is crawling (and swimming and flying) with sea life and all sorts of other wondrous creatures. When this oceanswimsafari takes place, it will be the start of the turtle laying season. It also will be near the end of the whale season, so you never know, we get close up with humpbacks!

The Heron Island oceanswimsafaris won’t be in quite the same form as the Great Barrier Reef swims previously that ran until 2017, in that we won’t be running formal swim events as part of a four-night package. Instead, we’ll be running a five-night package with four days of escorted, informal swims to different parts of the reefs around Heron Island. (We always felt that four nights wasn’t quite enough.)

heron 1410


Those of you who are familiar with Heron Island will know how many other reefs and islands there are around the area, quite apart from the enormous reef on which Heron itself sits. Our earlier groups never got to visit most of this reef. We always used to gaze out wistfully, across the reef disappearing into the distance, wondering what pristine reef and sea life we would find out there, if only…

Most of our anticipated swim spots are within short boat rides of Heron Island Resort, and whilst some of these spots are visited by divers, they have not been visited by ocean swimmers. We aim to change that.


Our plan is to conduct an escorted swim daily on each of the four full days on which we are on Heron Island, along different reefs (conditions on the day permitting). Our escorted swims will take place each morning, post-brekker. Excursions will run for 2-3 hours, depending on the course (travel time, time in the water, etc). We’d aim to swim distances of 2-3km each time, although that will vary with conditions and the locations. These swims are not races: we want you to enjoy the locations; to explore and enjoy the reef, the sea life, and the water; to enjoy swimming with friends. If you spot something you want to look at more closely, you can do so. All that we ask is that our groups keep swimming generally in the same direction. We will regroup regularly (we don’t want anyone left behind).

heron island 12 600


We will get to these swim spots with the Heron Island boats, which will stay with us throughout our swims. They’re large, covered boats with c. 25-40 person capacity. The number of boats depend on how many we have in our group. The boats will have a two-person crew of skipper and lookout. You will be able to climb back into the boat as you like, and dive into the water at any time during the escorted swims.


heron island 14 turtle tracks 300There's a bonus in the timing of this oceanswimsafari… It takes places right during the turtle laying season. Every night, turtles (mostly green turtles, some hawksbill, and the odd loggerhead) come up onto the beach to lay their eggs. You can tell where they've been, because they leave their tracks, like tractor tracks. If you like, you can go looking for them during the night, maybe sit with them while they lay. That's very special, too.

And then…

Afternoons will be kept free so you can arrange other activities if you like, or just lie on the beach, or by the pool, or go diving, etc.

We have timed our dates with high tides in the morning, so we’ll also swim informally (unescorted) on the island's reef each morning prior to brekker, if you’d like to join us.


Our package is ex-Gladstone. It includes accommodation at Heron Island Resort (5 nights), all meals, ferry transfers to Heron Island and back, and the escorted swims. We’ve also included an opening night drinks reception at which we can all say hi and have an introductory chinwag prior to dinner.

We have assembled packages based on different room standards at Heron Island Resort. There is a link here (see below) to the resort’s website so that you can check out those different room standards.

The reef is different

Anyone who has ever swum on the Great Barrier Reef knows how special and different it is from pretty well anywhere else. Different even from the waters inside the reef, such as around the inshore islands off the Queensland coast. There really is no comparison.

That’s why people who’ve been there talk about it so much. We love hearing the oohs and aahs when new swimmers arrive on the Heron jetty, and catch their first glimpse of the sea life in the lagoon. When they leave, they’re very different people. It’s a life-changing experience.

heron island aerial

What's included in our Heron Island oceanswimsafari...

When you book, your nightly room rates for the five-night oceanswimsafari includes -

  • 5 nights accommodation (room standard of your choice)
  • Return ferry transfers from Gladstone
  • All meals
  • Welcome reception
  • Early morning reef swims (unescorted by support craft, conditions allowing)
  • Daily swims along nearby reefs (escorted, conditions allowing)
  • oceanswimsafaris silicone swim cap + dry bag

Note that many will need to overnight in Gladstone the night before boarding the ferry to Heron Island, in order to make the ferry departure on time. This is not included in the package above. On departure from Heron Island, overnights will not be required, Heron Island Resort advise us, provided your departure flights are scheduled after 4:45pm on departure day. For information about accessing Heron Island… Click here

heron island 13 sunset 600

Details, details…

Please look over our package attached flyer for rates… Click here

If you have queries or you'd like to discuss the packages… Click here

When you’re ready to book, go to our booking form on oceanswimsafaris.com… Click here

It would be good to have you with us.

Where it is…

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Hellercamp Pty Ltd
t/a oceanswimsafaris.com
PO Box 1164
NSW 2114

ABN 97 163 965 704

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