Bucket List: Flying over the Great Barrier Reef & Whitehaven Beach
Seeing the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) was at the top of my bucket list. It was probably in the top 3 honestly. I remember watching Steve Irwin’s shows when I was younger and dreaming of going there and seeing it for myself. RIP Mr. Irwin.
When trying to decide if I should snorkel in the GBR or do a scenic flight over it, I couldn’t choose. So I did both! It was expensive, but I knew I was probably only going to go to Australia once in my life. That and the fact that the Great Barrier Reef isn’t always going to be around unfortunately. It was worth the splurge for sure.
The next decision I had was whether to fly over the GBR or Whitehaven Beach. In my research, I stumbled upon GSL Aviation, who offered a Reef and Island Scenic Flight that highlights both! Done deal. Sold.
I also got some personal recommendations to go with this company after I had already booked with them, so I felt really good about my decision. Word of mouth is the best advertising right? Oh, and GSL aviation offers planes with guaranteed window seats, which is super important when doing a scenic flight, obviously. C’mon, no one wants the middle seat!
I chose the 60-minute Reef and Island Scenic Flight, far longer than most scenic flights. If I was going to do it, I was going to get the full experience!
The morning started bright and early with a free shuttle pickup from my hotel. After a short safety briefing, we soared above Airlie Beach and made our way to the Great Barrier Reef. Rewind a few days earlier when I snorkelled the outer Great Barrier Reef. I hate to say this, but I was a bit disappointed. I guess I was expecting it to be more colorful. Most the pics you see of it are super photoshopped I guess. It’s sad but the bleaching of coral is a real thing and you definitely can see it for yourself.
Aerial shots are my ultimate favorite and flying over the Great Barrier Reef and seeing it from above was a completely different experience. You can really visualize the bold blue/green colors and see how enormous it really is. Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic structure on earth and is visible from OUTER SPACE? It’s so much easier to grasp that concept when you see it from above!
Well, I only saw a small section of it on this flight, but it was incredible! My dream of the Great Barrier Reef had been revived.
No need for a drone when you basically see through a drone’s eyes from above. We had many different viewpoints and plenty of time to really experience it.
We flew over the infamous heart Reef, but unfortunately I fumbled with switching cameras and didn’t get the best shot. It was also very sunny and the glare on the windows was quite bad that day. I tried.
But in case you want to see a better shot, here is a great one from their Instagram!
On our way back, we flew over the idyllic Whitehaven Beach. I ended up going to Whitehaven Beach the next day but seeing it from above was so much better to tell you the truth! You can really appreciate the swirly patterns of pure white silica sand and turquoise waters from above and it will leave you in awe.
GSL Aviation also offers transfers to Hamilton Island and they can get you there in just 10 minutes! Or you can combine the transfer with a one hour scenic flight over the GBR and Whitehaven, which I would definitely consider if I was staying on Hamilton Island. The ferry tickets are SUPER expensive to get there, so this option is actually a great value.
For example, a one-way ferry ticket is about $52 USD and the transfer flight is around $75 USD. It’s even cheaper if you do the transfer plus scenic flight!
They also do helicopter tours if that’s what you fancy. Oh, and they operate in Cairns as well. So if you’re up that way and want to see the Reef from above, holla at them!
- I was trying to switch between snap chatting on my phone, taking GoPro shots and videos, and using my wide angle camera lens with my Sony. It was too much and I often missed shots because I was trying to do too much. Stick to one camera and be ready!
- touch your camera up to glass to prevent glare from the window.
Flying over the Great Barrier Reef is a must do activity when visiting Australia. It was one of the highlights of my entire trip!
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Disclaimer: I received a media discount on my scenic flight. However, my opinions are my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I would never sell out like that! I had the best time and would highly recommend GSL Aviation.