Review: Hamilton Island Air heli-flight, Hardy’s Reef – Hamilton Island Airport, Whitsundays Islands, Australia


This post is one chapter on our trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne with The Great Ocean Road, exploring The Yarra Valley and the beaches of The Gold Coast via Qantas First Class. This trip was booked using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Hamilton Island Air, Heli-Flight, Hardy’s Reef – Hamilton Island Airport, Whitsunday’s Island, Australia

“A ride in a helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef is a once in a lifetime experience that is not to be missed”

At 1:05 PM, we were collected for our heli-transfer back to Hamilton Island. Our group of about 20 people flying back were to be split across 4 helicopters. Aside from us, all other passengers in the group appeared to be from mainland China. None appeared to speak any form of English. We were given a safety briefing which none of the Chinese appeared to understand or pay attention to. 

We were led out to a transfer boat to tender us to the two helicopter pontoons out on Hardy’s Reef. We ended up being on the second one. Thankfully, no Robinson helicopter today.

We had a life jacket assignment and had to wear them for our trip back. The seating configuration inside our Airbus (Eurocopter) H130 was 1(pilot) – 1 -1 in the front and 1-1-1-1 in the back. We were short one passenger, so for balance, it was a full load in the front and a load of 3 (out of 4 seats) in the back. I was able through assignment on the spot (not negotiated) to get the seat immediately behind the pilot. It was great as I had a window, but I wasn’t able to see any of the instruments or call sign of the aircraft from my position. 

Amazing Great Barrier Reef Views on Lift Off:

After we were belted in, we had a pretty immediate lift off in convoy with the other 4 helicopters on the reef. The views on take off were absolutely amazing and I spent a lot of time taking photographs- probably more than actually watching since I wanted to remember it all for the future. The blues and turquoises were absolutely spectacular and like nothing on earth.

Over flying Heart Reef:

We had a circular overfly of Heart Reef, the location of many tourist and Instagram shots. 

For some reason, I was expecting the outer reef to stretch more towards the inner reefs put after about 10 minutes of flying, we got to the edge of the reef where there was a starting contrast of blues as the shallow reef ended and the actual ocean began. 

Flying over Whitehaven Beach:

After the ocean crossing, we then had an overfly of Whitehaven Beach from both sides of the aircraft. The pilots did their best to manage the views so that each side had an even perspective and amount of camera time. 

This was followed by an overfly of Catseye Beach by the reef hotel, followed by Qualia. 

Setting down at the Hamilton Island Airport and helipad. 

Wow. What a spectacular experience. A Hamilton Island Air flight is an experience not to be missed.

Sunsets at One Tree Hill:

After we landed at the Hamilton Airport, the Hamilton Island Air provided us with a complimentary van shuttle back over to the harbor to collect our golf cart. From there, it was back to One Tree Hill for another amazing sunset with self catered sundowner cocktails. We opted for a lower spot down today. It was a bit more private but the views were still just as spectacular. 

My Thoughts on Hamilton Island Air and heli – flights over the Great Barrier Reef:

“A helicopter ride in this part of the world is one of the more expensive excursions but one that is worth almost every penny”

Ultimately, the helicopter ride was a lovely once in a lifetime experience with incredible views and amazing photographs for the office. A helicopter ride with Hamilton Air is a memorable experience and, thanks to the luck of great weather, a wonderful and very memorable experience. Add a wonderful bottle of Coldstream Hills at the end of the day along with a beautiful sunset and you’ve got a very special experience to treasure for quite some time.  


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