Located a 3.5 hour scenic drive along the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane is the Australian town of Hervey Bay. This was our departure point for a 40-minute flight in a 13-passenger Cessna Caravan.
Two thoughts came to mind at first glimpse of Lady Elliot Island from an altitude of 5,000 ft. First, the beauty. It was like someplace straight out of National Geographic Magazine. Second, “Lord help us.” How was our pilot going to land this plane on that tiny grass line carving the island in half? He did, we made it, and after changing my pants (I needed a swimsuit), I was ready for a delightful afternoon.
Lady Elliot is only 42 Hectares (100 acres) in size. At the resort orientation, we learned that one can walk around the island in 45 minutes. However, frequent stops to take in the splendor of the coral reef, light house and ocean sights extended our journey to three hours, a very enjoyable morning.
Situated at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, approximately 131 kilometers (81 miles) northeast of Hervey Bay, Elliot Island lies within a Marine National Park ‘Green Zone’ and forms part of Australia’s World Heritage Listed Area on the Great Barrier Reef.
Made entirely from crushed coral, the beaches and other walkways can be harsh on your feet. Be sure to bring along your walking shoes. Water shoes are a must. If you have them, bring them. Don’t have water shoes? It’s OK; they can be obtained for purchase at the gift shop or on loan from the resort.
4 Top Things to Do on Lady Elliot Island
Its location on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef enables the waters around the island to maintain exceptional water clarity. A total ban on fishing or taking anything from the area provides a habitat rich in sea life.
The resort dive shop offers many options for scuba diving, touting some of the best encounters in the world. However, we stuck to snorkeling from the beach inside the break water and observed a vast array of aquatic life and coral majesty.
Fish in many sizes, shapes and colors come so close you can reach out and touch them. Manta rays are abundant, the green and loggerhead turtles provide awe-inspiring entertainment as they swim with you and munch on the coral. The coral varieties and colors are spectacular and strongly protected, so be sure to keep your hands off.
For the more adventurous, the Dive Shop offers scuba gear, lessons, and a variety of tours for world-class dives in the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you are a pro diver or first timer, you will find programs tailored to your needs.
It is common to encounter whales while diving May through October. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) recently named Lady Elliot Island as one of the ‘Top 5’ locations in the world to go diving with manta rays.
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