Heron Island – Queensland, Australia

Pink Snowstorms on the Great Barrier Reef

Unlike many of the other islands near the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island is a coral cay – literally part of the reef itself. To see the reef, all you have to do is walk down to the beach and bend over.

The island’s only resort organizes reef walks during low tide, and there’s also diving and snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters that teem with multicolored fish and coral. The coral spawns each November, when the polyps emit billions of pink-and-purple bundles of eggs and sperm. It’s like being inside a pink snowstorm, and the phenomenon attracts divers from all over the world. Situated on the Tropic of Capricorn and only about 30 acres in size (of which half is a national park), Heron is more a summer camp for naturalists and divers than a glitzy reef resort.

Hundreds of green sea turtles come in October and November and lay their eggs. They hatch in January and February. The humpback whales migrate north in June and July, and swim with their calves in October.

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