There’s a brand-new island in the Great Barrier Reef – in the general sense of the word, at least.
Heart Island is a manmade pontoon near Heart Reef, the love-heart-shaped patch of coral in the natural wonder’s southern reaches.
It’s one of the most photographed spots on the reef, thanks to the guests aboard scenic flights cruising above it capturing its best angle.
Heart Island is a chance to get a little closer, with helicoptered in from Hamilton Island (the ride also includes a quick jaunt over Whitehaven Beach). After disembarking, guests to this exclusive isle board a glass-bottomed boat that glides towards Heart Reef for a chance to snorkel amid the sparkling aquamarine lagoon that surrounds it.
Access to this island is restricted to guests of Hamilton Island. The three-hour experience, which and also includes snacks and drinks, is limited to six guests at a time.
The health of the reef has been carefully considered, with Heart Island’s construction completed in consultation with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The pontoon runs on wind- and- solar-power and all waste is removed when guests leave.
It’s not the only new way to explore the Great Barrier Reef, either. Plans were recently announced for an underwater art museum at several locations along the 2300-kilometre-long reef.
Developed by Jason deCaires Taylor, who has created several other sculpture parks beneath the ocean’s surface around the world, the Museum of Underwater Art will help rehabilitate part of the reef. The first piece, entitled Ocean Siren, is set to open in December 2019, near Townsville.
Images credit: @saltywings