Daydream Island Living Reef
The free-form constructed reef system wraps around the Daydream Island Resort and Spa and holds almost 400,000 gallons (more than 1.5 million liters) of water. The Living Reef serves as a great educational tool, giving visitors hands-on experience dealing with coral and the organisms that live within it. Guided snorkeling tours with marine biologists are offered at the resort, plus some island hopping tours stop at Daydream Island, so you don’t have to be a guest in order to experience the reef. Plus, nighttime viewings are available, where you can see the underwater world glow for an insightful nocturnal experience.
Things to know before you go
- Easily spot fish and coral from the viewing windows that face the resort’s central atrium; there’s also an education center for kids with a touch pool and display tanks.
- Kids must be 10 or older to snorkel.
- Travelers warn about the sharp coral on Daydream Island’s beach, so don’t forget to wear appropriate footwear.
How to get there
Daydream Island is accessible via chartered boat or the ferry system that also connects Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. There are direct flights from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne to the Hamilton Island Airport. From there, take a boat transfer to Daydream Island. Alternatively, fly into Proserpine Airport, 25-miles (40-kilometers) from the Port of Airlie, where you can hop aboard a boat transfer. The reef is found at the entrance to the resort.
When to get there
Between October and May, Irukandji and box jellyfish are abundant in the area and may pop up in the reef; protective “stinger suits” are available. Overall, September (early spring) is considered the best time to visit the Whitsundays Islands. This is when you’ll get to enjoy the most sunny days and little-to-no rain.
Guided island-hopping tours often combine a visit to Daydream Island with a stop at Whitehaven Beach, which is located along the coast of Whitsunday Island. Like most of the Whitsunday Islands, this beach is a postcard-worthy spot for snorkeling and swimming. Full-day tours to Whitehaven are also offered, allowing you to spend even more time on the sand.