Green Island’s pristine beaches in the Great Barrier Reef

Green Island's pristine beaches in the Great Barrier Reef
The aptly named Green Island appears like an emerald oasis in the sea of blue, attracting a fleet of watercraft. From on high, the speeding boats trailing frothy white wakes look like shooting stars en route to the island.Cairns is one of the closest towns to the Great Barrier Reef and our 30-minute scenic flight aboard a de Havilland Beaver gives a bird’s-eye view of this natural wonder.Leaving the muddy estuary waters behind we skim over the ocean to Green Island and Arlington Reef, passing pristine white sandy bays.It turns out Green Island was named by Captain Cook after his chief observer and astronomer Charles Green rather than the colour of its tropical foliage. Seen from above the reef it mesmerises with its aquamarine palette and abstract etchings of coral.
The water is so clear it is possible to see manta rays and turtles and on our return flight we spot a pod of humpback whales making their way up the coast.”There’s no elegant way of getting in and out”, says our pilot as we disembark the plane at a floating pontoon.But it is a lot more decorous than exiting our hot air balloon this morning.We left well before dawn to rendezvous with our ballooning company in the hinterland. Under a full moon and thick fog, hands thrust in pockets for warmth, we watched our huge yellow balloon with its smiling koala motif take shape.As morning shrugged off its pre-dawn cloak of soft mauves and pinks and slipped into a sundress of yellow and gold we slowly rose up through the mist.

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