+61 74914 2425

Can You Snorkel At Heart Reef?

Author Image
Gabby Boucher
Updated Thu 01 Feb 2024

You can’t snorkel at Heart Reef because it is a protected area, but you can have incredible snorkeling experiences at other nearby locations in the Great Barrier Reef! Heart Reef is one of the most unique and beautiful places in the Great Barrier Reef. It is also one of the most photographed spots in the reef, and in all of Australia!

Because Heart Reef is such a popular image, tourists often wonder, “Can you snorkel at Heart Reef?” This article will explain why you cannot snorkel at Heart Reef. But don’t get discouraged! There are many other fascinating places to snorkel and scuba dive in the Whitsundays, and you can still see the iconic Heart Reef on a scenic flight

view of great barrier reef from seaplane in the whitsundays

Why Is The Heart Reef So Special?

In addition to naturally being shaped like a heart, there are so many fun facts about the Heart Reef! This incredible coral reef shaped like a love heart is one of the most romantic places in the Whitsundays. Proposals are common during a scenic flight over the Heart Reef, and it’s a top spot for honeymooners in the Whitsundays. 

Heart Reef is just 17 meters across, making it a rather tiny coral outcrop compared to the entire 2,300 km length of the Great Barrier Reef! Heart Reef was initially discovered in 1975 by a local pilot, so it’s only been on tourists’ radars for a few decades. Now it is one of the most quintessential Whitsunday sights, and few tourists leave the area without booking a scenic flight over this unique coral formation. 

view of the great barrier reef from plane

Can You Snorkel At Heart Reef?

Heart Reef is well protected, so no one is allowed to snorkel at Heart Reef. You also can’t swim or scuba dive there. Some travelers may find this discouraging, as the thought of exploring the underwater world next to this exquisite coral reef is enticing! However, the strict protection of the Heart Reef is the reason why this spot remains so pristine. 

There are few places in this world that human beings have not yet discovered and left their mark upon. We should be happy that some locations are still off-limits to humans so they can remain in their natural, untouched state. The Heart Reef is a magical place, and seeing it from the air is a massive privilege in itself!

aerial view of the heart reef from above in the Whitsundays

What Can You Do At Heart Reef?

Because you can't swim or snorkel at Heart Reef, the best thing to do at Heart Reef is flying over the reef on a scenic flightBoat tours are popular in the Whitsundays, but scenic flights are increasing in demand as well because flying over the Great Barrier Reef is so stunning! A scenic flight is quick and affordable and can easily fit into any Whitsunday itinerary. 

How To Visit The Heart Reef

Because Heart Reef is in a protected reef, the only way to visit the Heart Reef is by air. A scenic flight by helicopter or seaplane provides the ultimate panoramic view of this special section of the reef. You will only soar over the reef, as you cannot land anywhere in this part of the reef. But you can book flights that land on the nearby Whitehaven Beach!

Scenic flights to Heart Reef depart from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island. The flights only take small groups so you will have a guaranteed window seat no matter which tour you book! Pack your camera because flying over the Heart Reef is spectacular. It might just be one of the best views you ever see in your life!

You can even book a combo package that includes a boat trip with snorkeling and a scenic flight. So for the ultimate day in the Whitsundays, spend a few hours sailing and snorkeling before you hop aboard a seaplane and venture out to the Heart Reef by air!

travellers going snorkeling in the Whitsundays

Where Is The Best Snorkeling On The Great Barrier Reef?

If you are itching to get underwater and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, there are other world-class diving locations not too far from Heart Reef. Heart Reef is located within the Hardy Reef Lagoon, which has anchored pontoons nearby so you can still visit and go snorkeling in the area. This section of the Outer Reef has some of the best snorkeling in the Whitsundays! There are tours to the Outer Reef departing from Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island, and Daydream Island daily. 

Combine your visit to the Outer Reef with other highlights of the Whitsundays such as Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout with an overnight sailing tour of the Great Barrier Reef! One day on the Great Barrier Reef sometimes just isn’t enough. You can embark on a 3 day sailing tour of the Whitsundays that includes plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and visiting gorgeous islands. 

Or for the ultimate reef experience, stay at Reefsuites Underwater Hotel! Spend the night in an underwater hotel right on the Great Barrier Reef. Sleep in a luxury hotel room amongst the marine life, and enjoy snorkeling during the day! Reefsleep is another option where you can sleep aboard a pontoon in a cozy outdoor reefbed!

girl overlooking a great barrier reef pontoon in the Whitsundays

Ready to book your scenic flight to Heart Reef? Call us at +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat with us online if you have any questions!

Click To Chat


  • Our experts are Based in Airlie Beach
  • We can build packages to save you $$$
  • Whitsundays biggest boat cooperative

Quick Enquiry

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.