Lady Elliot Island, which is actually the southernmost cay of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, is one of the Aussies most guarded secrets. Everything on this tiny coral cay is relaxed and easy. Divers grab their gear, head to the shore, suit up and sink into water where they can swim alongside fish nibbling on coral, look into the mouths of massive clams and even see manta rays flapping by silently overhead. Boat trips to sites are generally short and include a chance to swim among manta rays. Meals are communal dining. Lodging is basic but you sit outside your front door and can watch the whales pass by.
Where is It?
The island is about 80 kilometers off Australia's Queensland coast northeast of Bundaberg. It's located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef and there are several wrecks close to the island because the ship's pilots didn't realize that the land rose so swiftly. Divers take a quick flight from Bundaberg.
When to Go?
While there's no "best" time to dive on the Great Barrier Reef the weather is typically better from August to January. Between November and February female turtles come ashore to nest (and the sea birds follow). The hatchlings emerge eight- to twelve weeks later. Remember that it's summertime here when it's winter in the U.S.
Pros and Cons
The waters are pristine and the variety of coral and fish is astonishing. On dry land, activities and entertainment are limited to reef walks, learning more about the reef, evening slide shows and lectures, and the quality of your friends' conversations.
Visit Lady Elliot Island to learn more.
Best Islands for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Off the Shore
If you enjoy walking off the shore and scuba diving or snorkeling in coral so colorful you’ll think you are in an underwater garden, go to Best Islands for Diving Off the Shore. Here’s where you go if you want more information about learning how to start scuba diving.