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Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

Chicago, IL
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Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

We love to snorkel and are planning a 3-4 day trip to GBR in early September. There are so many choices that we're confused. What would be the best coral and fish viewing for snorkelers? A 2 day liveaboard cruise to the outer reefs from Cairns, or 2 nights at Heron Island?

Unfortunately, because of the short amount of time we have available, we can't do both because of the distance and expense to travel between both sites. I've read great reviews about both options, but not sure about visibility or if the water will be too choppy in either location.

I've read that the boat crossing from Gladstone to Heron Island can be rather rough, but the helicopters are an expensive option. The reviews of the resort in Heron Island are inconsistent, but I think we can live with that. However, there are some postings complaining about pesky birds in Heron Island being noisy, aggressive and stinky--but wasn't sure if that was because of nesting season or year round.

Where is the reef more fabulous, outer reef from Cairns or Heron Island?

Help making a decision will be much appreciated. GBR has been on my "bucket list" and I would like to make sure I make the best choice for snorkeling, many sites seem to focus more on divers.

Thanks!

Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands
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1. Re: Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

Most of the liveaboards are diver focused so that may influence your decision

I wont comment on wild life, after all it is wild.

Heron Island...
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2. Re: Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

September is a great time of year weather wise at Heron, and the crossings are good. The issues with rough crossings is mainly Dec-May which is Cyclone season.

The times with most Birds are Dec to Mar which is nesting seasons

Cheers

Chicago, IL
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3. Re: Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

Thanks for the feedback!

Edited: 13 June 2013, 01:39
Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

I think the liveaboard was best if all you want to do is snorkel. We saw about 4 different sites over 2 days and all were different so you'll get more diverse scenery. Heron obviously has more options outside of snorkeling. The snorkeling was just as good as the diving everywhere we went on the outer reef and the crew never catered to one or the other. There is plenty of people who just snorkeled, none of the locations were particularly deep. Best part about the liveaboard was no crowds as we were at different sites to the day trippers. Wasn't uncommon for people to get seasick on the liveaboard though if this is a concern. The boat transfer across to Heron can get rough and I think it usually is. There will be an unbelievable amount of birds there so they are noisy. I never found them intrusive at all and actually thought it added to the charm of the place. I thought the snorkeling from shore was better from Lady Elliot Island than Heron.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

How is the "time in the water" on a liveaboard? We like to snorkel A LOT so 45 minutes here and there isn't usually our cup of tea like on day trips. We have been considering this same issue as the OP. We are not worried at all about sea sickness. We are planning November 2014 so we have some time to make our decision. As it is such a huge expense from the US we hope to make the best decision - hah!

6. Re: Snorkelers dilemma-Liveaboard to outer reef or Heron Island?

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