Great Barrier Reef Aviation Adventure | Airlie Beach

Hey everyone! I’m back, it’s been a week or so I know but I’ve been busy exploring the beautiful world that is the East Coast of Australia…

If you read my last travel post on Cairns, you will know that I experienced the Great Barrier Reef there for the first time, and it has been one of the best things about our trip so far. In fact, I think it’s been my favourite of all the things we’ve seen and done up to now. I’ve basked in all the cultural delights that Ubud had to offer, soaked up the rays in Seminyak, lived the island life in Gili T, and so much more over the past five weeks, but seeing the Great Barrier Reef has really been a highlight for me.

I wrote in my last post about my first snorkelling experience, how incredible it was, and how as I was snorkelling, I could almost hear the voice of David Attenborough narrating everything I was seeing as I saw it. It was a surreal, life changing experience and one that I will never forget.

After we left Cairns we made our way to Airlie Beach to continue our reef adventures, and while I’ll go in to all the Airlie details in my next blog post, today I wanted to tell you about possibly one of the best hours of my life, a flight over the Great Barrier Reef. Okay it sounds a little dramatic, but my god is the reef just as incredible from the sky as it is from under the water.

I had seen and read a lot about the helicopter and airplane tours of the reef before I got there and I knew without a doubt I was going to go on one, so one of the first things I did when I arrived was booked my seat on a one hour scenic flight with GSL Aviation. Dave has a fear of flying, so opted to stay behind on this one, but there’s no way I could have missed out on the opportunity of seeing one of the wonders of the world from the sky.

So when the day arrived, off I went excited and a little nervous to Whitsunday Airport and got myself ready to take off.

When I arrived I found out the plane seated seven people not including the pilot, and as everyone else was a couple, I got to ride up front, right beside the pilot, steering wheel (is that what it’s even called on a plane?!) in front of me. There I was, the closest I was ever going to get to my Maverick and Goose moment and I was in my element! *Queue cheesy 80’s movies quote; I feel the need, the need for speed… *E-hem*.

Anyway, off we took nothing but blue skies in front and beside me, and it was amazing.

Nothing can quite describe that feeling as you take off in a small plane, butterflies of excitement that almost catch your breath as you begin to see everything from an entirely different point of view. Then, just as you begin to breath again, as if out of nowhere the reef begins to appear.

It is spectacular, and so big. I mean I knew it was big but seeing it with your own eyes just makes you realise its expanse. We flew low so we could all the reefs, coral, and varying shades of blue up close, and it is beautiful. I’ll never forget that feeling, and the wonder I felt as I took it all in. As we flew along of course I snapped away on my camera, trying not to miss a thing, but even if I hadn’t taken one photo I’d still never forget what it looked like.


We saw the Whitsunday Islands, we saw Whitehaven Beach, we saw coral, we saw the infamous heart shaped reef, and it was quite possibly one of the best experiences of my life. One which I will never forget.


Airlie Beach was so much more than just my plane ride, and I’ll share all the details of our trip there soon. But for now let me just say, if you ever find yourself in Airlie and wonder whether it’s worth doing then yes it is, it really is.

It’s Wednesday in Oz so happy hump day, I’ll post more soon!

Sorcha x

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