8 reasons to choose Lady Elliot Island for your next island escape
Let’s not beat around the bush: If you’re looking for a pampered vacay, this island isn’t for you. After an adrenaline-filled extreme holiday? Look elsewhere.
But if you want to fully immerse yourself in nature and the Great Barrier Reef, and experience a place where humans and the environment work in harmony, then you couldn’t pick a more perfect destination than Lady Elliot Island.
Sitting pretty and pristine on the edge of the Southern Great Barrier Reef, this coral cay boasts no thrills or fanfare, because, well, it doesn’t need to – here are 8 reasons why.
1. It’s totally off the grid
We’re talkin’ no WiFi, no TVs and no mobile reception – just you and Mother Nature in all her glory.
Thanks to its location on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef – roughly 80kms north-east of Bundaberg – Lady Elliot is about as remote as you can comfortably get for a CastAway-esque island escape.
2. They walk the talk of conservation
They don’t call it the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort for nothing, people.
These guys mean serious business when it comes to protecting our reef, living and breathing their role as the custodians of this pristine environment by operating under the ‘Four E’s’ philosophy: “To look after our Environment we need to be Efficient, Economically Sustainable and able to Educate effectively.”
Here, everything is done simply and thoughtfully in order to work on a sustainable basis, from the island’s own hybrid solar power station (which has reduced diesel use and carbon emissions by more than 80%) through to their basic accommodation designed to have a minimum impact on the environment.
Basically, these guys are the shiz when it comes to ecologically sustainable tourism, and have been awarded Advanced Eco Certification by Ecotourism Australia for their never-ending conservation efforts. #BIGkudos
(Psst, if you’re keen to learn more, make sure you check out the island’s Reef Education Centre during your stay.)
3. It comes highly recommended by Attenborough himself
Yep, Lady Elliot Island is that damn impressive it attracted the cameras of the legendary Sir David Attenborough in his final documentary, Great Barrier Reef, who simply couldn’t resist its impressive natural assets (read on, friends).
4. The water is so clear you’d think it was photoshopped
Sitting waaay out on the outer edge of the continental shelf certainly has its perks – since it’s nowhere near as close to inshore rivers and runoff that comes after rain, Lady Elliot Island enjoys clean waters, healthy coral, and an average 30-metre visibility year-round.
Think of it like the world’s biggest aquarium – where you can snorkel straight off the beach into coral gardens and naturally-protected lagoons, or scuba over 20 world-class dive sites with giants of the ocean, which brings me to my next point…
5. The wildlife game is seriously on point
Situated within a highly protected ‘Green Zone’, the island is a sanctuary for over 1200 species of marine life, but its biggest claim to fame is being the home of the manta ray, and rightly so.
It’s one of the best places in the world to swim with these giant kites of the sea, attracting a population of up to 450 who feed around the island throughout the year, aggregating in larger numbers during the winter months.
(The island’s even caught the interest of an elusive pink male manta ray – yes, pink! – who’s been spotted a handful of times and nicknamed ‘Clouseau’ after the bumbling inspector from The Pink Panther.)
But the wildlife wonders don’t stop there – it’s also an ornithologist’s nirvana, attracting thousands of resident and migratory sea birds who nest here during the summer breeding season.
From June to October, visitors can catch the aerobatic displays of humpback whales as they journey north during their annual migration. They come so close to the island that their whale songs can be heard underwater almost daily by snorkellers and divers.
And of course, what would a Great Barrier Reef island escape be if there weren’t a plethora of opportunities for a #turtleselfie. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re pretty much guaranteed to bump into a friendly sea turtle, with three different species regularly frequenting the island – hawksbill, green and loggerhead.
The latter two also nest and hatch by the thousands during turtle season from November to March, with the action going down only metres from the resort’s balconies (meaning you’ll have a front-row seat to the miracle of life).
6. You’ll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean right outside your door
Speaking of balconies, you’ll literally be snoozing mere footsteps from the beach in one of the islands Eco Cabins or units, even closer if you opt for the prime beach-front position of their island suites, which boast lagoon views over Sunrise Beach.
And with only 41 rooms on the island, you’re guaranteed minimal crowds and maximum quality bonding time with nature.
7. Two words: FREE ACTIVITIES
Music to any parent’s ears. #amiright
If you’re planning a holiday with your brood, this is one of the best family-friendly islands for it, but you don’t have to be a youngin to lap up the added freebies.
Included in your overnight price is a glass-bottom boat and guided snorkelling tour, plus free use of snorkel gear during your entire stay. The resort also has a dedicated Activities Team offering a range of free guided fun, from fish feeding and reef walking to historical island tours and a behind-the-scenes look at how the eco resort runs.
When you want to up the adrenaline, there’s snorkelling safaris and an onsite PADI Dive shop that can hook you up with your first Discovery Scuba Dive (DSD) or help you gain your advanced diving creds for an additional cost.
8. Short on time? No worries!
Even if you can’t get away for a few nights, you can still experience the magic of Lady Elliot Island in just 24 hours!
Day trips departing Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast include return scenic flights, snorkel gear, the combined glass-bottom boat and guided snorkel tour mentioned above, an extra guided afternoon activity, plus a delish buffet lunch.