I’d heard so much about Lady Elliot Island, It was on my “todo list” (I have spreadsheet of places i’d love to visit) i’d heard stories from scuba divers that had visited the island 30yrs ago and in the last 12 months I’d seen it appearing more frequently in the press and on social media, particularly instagram.
So ensure you book a minimum 6-8 months in advance, the island is tiny and they are an eco resort so you need to lock in your spots earlier than you think.
Lady Elliot Island, August 2017
Approx. reading time: 3:09 minutes
On approach we circle the island, nothing you’ve seen online does it justice.
From arriving at the Hangar for the scenic flight departing Coolangatta it was effectless. The staff at the hangar, the pilot and the resident island guide that does the flight everyday (Uge) were super lovely and cheerful. The flight was spectacular in itself. From Cooly to Redcliffe then up to Harvey Bay and then across to Lady Elliot Island was just stunning. Not to mention this time of year (August) being Humpback Whale Migration season and there were many sightings along the way.
On approach we circle the island, nothing you’ve seen online does it justice. It’s just perfect as it glistens below, you can see through the crystal clear waters the outline of the reefs, your accommodation and the airstrip. The landing is short and the airstrip is just an oversized cricket pitch. It’s a well-kept strip of grass running the diameter of the entire island.
We’re greeted by Andreas the Island Manager and he makes you feel right at home instantly. Andreas also makes the best omelette for breakfast you may ever have!
Our room is ready, we drop everything and quickly get ready for a snorkel. We take the snorkel safari to get our bearings and learn the lay of the land. You really want to ensure you understand your new environment, tides, rips, marine life, access points.
Our visit saw high tide at sunrise and sunset. So being adrift in the lagoon with the hues of orange, blue and purple on sunrise and sunset was therapeutic in itself.
I’m that guy on the safari, own gear, camera housing, freedive fins. The GoPro users always look at me funny.
In writing this just a few days after returning home, I’m amazing at how all the dives have melted into just a handful. On closer inspection of my images, their date-time stamps, my freediving logs and google maps, it’s clear why my hip joints are sore.
Over the duration of our 4 night stay, I manage to spend more time in my wetsuit than I do sleeping. I manage 15 snorkelling sessions, approximate 25km of flipper activity just on the surface, my freediving watch has logged 374 surface descents, diving up to 12 meters for close to 1 minute at a time. I am a kid in a candy store here.
The key snorkelling spots are; The Lighthouse, Coral Gardens and The Lagoon. Scuba divers are spoilt with many more spots, yet another reason to come prepared to do both.
The staff here are passionate about the what they do, most of them experts in their field, marine biologists and ocean photographers / videographers and the like. big shout out to Phil, Kate, Sheridan, Blaise and Jeremy. These guys play a big part in making the experience even more memorable. The whale swim won’t be forgotten.
The aquatic life is hard to comprehend. It’s seasonal and it’s mother nature so you shouldn’t expect to see all of it, but you’re likely too! From the pelagic fish, reef fish, Sharks, Cephalopods, Turtles, Dolphin, Manta and plenty of other rays. If you’re super lucky maybe even a whale will pop past and say g’day!
Ocean conditions changed frequently, tide and wind changes, this makes for a different approach when entering the water and can also change the visibility. I only mention visibility as a photographer you’re always hoping for the most optimal conditions. On every snorkel, I saw something new and amazing. I experienced an inquisitive Dolphin and her pup come up for a closer look whilst I was sitting rather deep photographing a manta ray, they didn’t stay but wow it was cool!
For the novice snorkeller and those not comfortable in the open ocean, the Lagoon at high tide offers a super calm and safe opportunity to observe the reef come alive. You’ll most definitely encounter green sea turtles, countless fish, anemones, starfish, the list goes on. Our visit saw high tide at sunrise and sunset. So being adrift in the lagoon with the hues of orange, blue and purple on sunrise and sunset was therapeutic in itself. The stress of the big city dissipates further and further away each time you enter the water.
Countless times I saw amazing marine flora and fauna. I tried my best to document these when the conditions are optimal.
Good news is I’ll be back regularly I’d say as I’m sure that with each visit something else amazing unfold.