Swimming with turtles is just the best – right?
If you’re looking for the perfect chance to go swimming with turtles, head up to Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia.
Enjoy a relaxing half day trip into the Great Sandy Straits, visiting picturesque uninhabited islands, discovering the World’s oldest living culture and getting the chance to go swimming with turtles on the Hervey Bay Eco Marine Turtle Discovery Tour!
Swimming With Turtles With Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours
The Turtle Discovery Tour is a great chance to spot turtles and to see a totally different side of Hervey Bay! Hervey Bay is mostly known for it’s whale watching tours and as the gateway to Fraser Island (K’gari) – the largest sand island in the world!
But that’s certainly not all that Hervey Bay is known for. With Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours you get to discover lesser known yet equally impressive and important parts of Hervey Bay.
You’ll see lots of local marine life such as turtles, dolphins and perhaps even stingrays and dugongs (also known asa ‘sea cows’) and learn about the Butchulla people – the Traditional Owners of K’Gari Island.
The Turtle Discovery Tour is conducted by a friendly local Indigenous guide called Joe Joe – one of the Butchulla People. He’s a fascinating guy – he tells some great stories and has a lot of local knowledge about the area and his culture. Plus he will sing some Traditional songs and play the didgeridoo at the end of the tour for you!
Having a local Aboriginal guide was actually one of the reasons I was particularly keen to go on a Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tour. Being on Butchulla country, it is only right that you are contributing to a company that supports the Traditional Owners of the land. Joe Joe is a fascinating guy and I felt lucky to have the opportunity to be immersed in and to get a greater understanding of the Aboriginal culture during the tour.
Glass Bottom Boat Used By Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours
The glass bottom boat on the Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tour is called the ‘Milbi’ (which means turtle in the Butchulla language) and is the only glass bottomed boat in Hervey Bay. It was designed so that you can look down through the glass to see under the water and beautiful coral, however the water is often so clear you may prefer to just look over the side of the boat to spot the marinelife and coral!
The glass bottom boat also has a flat bottom. Flat bottom boats are really stable in calm waters, which makes it a really pleasant journey out towards the islands (this makes an ideal trip for those who often suffer from seasickness as it’s a very smooth journey).
Flat bottomed boats can be a bit trickier to moor, but the skipper did an excellent job that you wouldn’t even notice!
The water is very calm around here so it’s not too challenging disembarking from the glass bottom boat onto the islands – although prepare for wet landings and getting your feet wet to cross onto the islands! The Milbi boat is also wheelchair friendly.
The glass bottom boat carries small numbers and there is lots of space on the boat, so you’ll always have a personal experience.
Islands You Visit On The Turtle Discovery Tour
There are several islands within the Great Sandy Straits Marine Park. Depending on weather and tide conditions, you’ll get to visit two or three of them on the Turtle Discovery Tour! We were lucky during our trip we got to visit three: Big Woody Island, Pelican Banks and Round Island.
All three islands are uninhabited and are fairly small. It’s totally down to the weather and tidal conditions of that day as to how your trip itinerary will go. The itinerary does change daily, so just go with the flow and see where the wind and tide take you!
Big Woody Island (Tooliewah)
Big Woody Island was the first island we visited on the tour. It is a big long island and we spent around 20 minutes strolling around with Joe the guide and got immersed in the Indigenous Butchulla culture.
It’s wise to wear something to protect your feet here as the beach isn’t sandy, but rather small stones and shells.
On the boat from Big Woody to Pelican Banks look out for turtles – you should see plenty in the shallow passage here!
Pelican Banks (Buallum Ngiya)
Pelican Banks is the most beautiful island on the tour and is really a highlight in the area!
This white cay surrounded by turquoise waters honestly looks like a paradise island in Fiji – it is so stunning and I can’t believe more people don’t know about it!
With the silica white sands and crystal clear waters, when you’re here you really get the feeling of being completely isolated on a remote desert island despite being just a few kilometres from Hervey Bay! It’s absolutely dreamy.
Pelican Banks is aptly named as pelicans often come to the banks here. You’ll be more likely to spot a big colony of cormorant birds here on the island though – there was about 50 of them sat on one corner of the island when we arrived.
The birds didn’t bother us at all or make any noise – they kept themselves to themselves. Except that sometimes you may however be able to smell a bit of bird poo on the island. That didn’t put us off though – it was absolutely stunning and by far one of the most idyllic islands I have ever been on!
We spent around 30 minutes at Pelican Banks swimming in the crystal clear waters and relaxing on the sand.
Pelican Banks is the furthest away island on the trip – it’s the closest one to Fraser Island. But when I say it is the furthest away – it is still only about 7km from the marina! It only takes around 10 minutes to get from one island to the other, and when you’re on the lookout for turtles, the journey sure does go fast!
After enjoying at Pelican Banks, we got served a simple yet delicious lunch onboard which included a 6 inch Subway sandwich and some seasonal fruit and snacks whilst we headed over to the reef looking for turtles.
Round Island (Weenandin)
Round Island was the final island we visited on our trip and this is the closest island to the marina – just over 1km away!
It was quite different to Pelican Banks, with terracotta coloured sands and bits of coral and shells dotted along the beach.
Despite being called Round Island, the island is no longer round and is more of a diamond shape! Of course the tides affect the shape of the island and the movement of the sands over time.
Where Can You Swim With Turtles Near Hervey Bay?
You can see lots of turtles in the shallow passage going from Big Woody Island to Pelican Banks. As the waters are shallow and clear – it makes it quite easy to spot the turtles!
The boat will take you out to the coral reef in between the islands so you don’t need to snorkel from the shore. Don’t just look out for turtles when you’re swimming though – keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, dugongs and even stingrays!
Reef snorkelling is always determined by the weather conditions so it may not always be possible.
Where Does The Turtle Discovery Tour Where You Can Go Swimming With Turtles Depart?
Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours office is located at Great Sandy Straits Marina (also known as Urangan Marina), and this is where the trip departs. Check the Google maps location.
Make sure you drop into the office before the tour to pick up some flippers and a snorkel if you want to go snorkelling with the turtles. The waters here in Hervey Bay are really calm – making it perfect for snorkelling and spotting turtles!
The trip runs from approximately 10.30am to 2.30pm, and as the trip is really popular with families during school holidays there are often two trips per day – just check the times on the booking form when you book.
Adults cost $120 and children cost $75.
What To Bring With You On The Turtle Discovery Tour
The usual culprits: swimming costume, suncream, hat, sunglasses, water bottle, camera, jacket and comfortable shoes (reef shoes ideal, or sandals/shoes you don’t mind getting wet).
Other Excursions Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours Provide
Milbi Sunset Cruise
Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours also does a popular Milbi Sunset cruise – where you’ll be taken out into the Great Sandy Straits and enjoy the sunset with a grazing platter, King Prawns and a glass of bubbles.
Listen to the stories of the Butchulla guide as well as the sound of him playing the didgeridoo as the sun sets. The sunsets are beautiful in Hervey Bay, so this is a really relaxing tour if you’re looking to unwind at the end of the day, or you want to treat your loved one to a romantic evening.
The Milbi Sunset Cruise has a duration of 1.5 hours. It departs at 4.30pm in the winter and 5pm in the summer. Prices are $85 for adults and $55 for children.
Djinang Cultural Walking Tour
Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours also operates the Djinang Walking Tour, which also provides a unique and different experience to the other two tours offered and is the only cultural tour in Hervey Bay!
Who Is The Turtle Discovery Tour With Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours Suitable For?
The Turtle Discovery Tour is great for couples (young and old!), groups of friends, solo travellers and families. Children in particular love the tour and snorkelling and swimming with the turtles, but let’s be honest – we all do right?!
Overall, the Turtle Explorer Tour was a very relaxing half day trip exploring the waters and islands around the Great Sandy Straits and Fraser Island (K’gari). The Turtle Discover Tour is definitely something different compared to the other tours offered in Hervey Bay and something I would recommend if you have several days in the Hervey Bay Area.
Additional Excursions To Do In Hervey Bay Besides Swimming With Turtles
Hervey Bay is a great place to spend a few days and enjoy the marine life there. Why not do a Whale Watching Tour with Blue Dolphin on their sailboat, or maybe get the opportunity to swim with whales with Tasman Venture!
Accommodation In Hervey Bay
If you want to stay in the most convenient location right next to Urangan Marina then check into Mantra Hervey Bay – literally a stone’s throw from all the boats in the marina!
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!