8 reasons to choose Lady Elliot Island
If you like your tropical islands shared with more wildlife than other resort guests, it’s time to drop your pin on Lady Elliot Island, the coral cay 80-clicks off Bundaberg.
You won’t find spa treatments, swim up bars, or any phone signal for that matter on this tropical island. This island is unashamedly an immersive eco-experience with an itinerary that encourages you to eat, sleep, snorkel, scuba and repeat.
Start packing your beach bag and plotting your annual leave, we’ve got eight reasons why you need to visit this island on the edge of the Southern Great Barrier Reef.
1. Lady Elliot Island is an Eco Resort in every sense of the word
When it comes to being eco and sustainable, Lady Elliot Island is just part of the philosophy, it’s a tourism champion, with a trophy cabinet to prove its contribution.
Lady Elliot Island was awarded Advanced Eco Certification by Ecotourism Australia (2009), Climate Action Business (2014) and Climate Action Leader (2017), thanks to their operating philosophy “to look after our Environment we need to be Efficient, Economically Sustainable and able to Educate effectively.”
No coral has been left unturned when it comes to streamlining the resort’s sustainability. Everything from the island’s own hybrid solar power station, wastewater treatment plant, water de-salination plant for tap water and simple accommodation has been designed to reduce the impact on the environment.
Their eco initiatives aren’t kept hidden behind closed doors in operating rooms. All guests are invited to learn more about eco-initiatives, joining the Island Team for a Behind the Scenes tour of the resort.
2. You can wander where the WiFi is weak
The average Australian might spend 136 minutes on their phones each day, but the average guest at Lady Elliot Island spends precisely zero (unless you’re taking turtle selfies of course).
On this coral cay, there’s no WiFi, no TVs and no mobile reception – so there’s no trills, beeps and notifications from your phone, to interrupt Mother Nature all day, every day.
3. Getting there requires wings
You can stand on the shores and scour the horizon, but mark our words, you won’t see the mainland from Lady Elliot Island.
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 get when it comes to Queensland’s islands you can actually visit.
The only boats that arrive at Lady Elliot Island come bearing supplies and groceries for the kitchen, so for visitors, you’ll need an air fare, departing from Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast.
4. David Attenborough filmed here
You know the reef is going to be good when world-renowned naturalist and documentary maker David Attenborough chose this island to feature in his final documentary, Great Barrier Reef.
It’s no surprise Sir David wanted to film here; the water is so clear it’s like looking through the glass of an aquarium.
Crystal clear water goes with Lady Elliot Island’s offshore territory, with no inshore rivers or run off affecting the visibility of the water out there. In fact, the island lays claim to an average 30-metre visibility year-round.
You don’t even need to go well offshore to enjoy this kind of visibility, you can walk straight off the beach to snorkel the coral gardens and naturally-protected lagoons, or don a mask to scuba over 20 world-class dive sites.
5. You’ll spot wildlife without needing to go looking for it
It’s not just the resort that’s green at Lady Elliot Island. Put your head under the water, and you’ll find yourself in a coral garden that’s been classed by GBRMPA a ‘Green Zone’ due to its environmental and ecological significance.
Under the sea, you’ll find a sanctuary for over 1200 species of marine life, most famously a population of manta rays.
Time your visit for winter for mass manta-ray action, as they come to the warm waters to feed and get frisky.
An underwater camera is a must if you want a #turtleselfie of your own. Hawksbill, green and loggerhead turtles all swim in these parts, with green and loggerheads also nesting here from November to February. Pssst – for more turtley-good nesting action, jump over here.
If you prefer animal-spotting from the comfort of dry land, fill your day spotting the thousands of resident and migratory sea birds who nest on the island or look out to shore to catch the aerobatic displays of humpback whales who migrate north each year.
6. There’s no such thing as a bad view
There’s no risk of lucking out with a garden view room at Lady Elliot Island. With five different styles of accommodation, all within footsteps of the beach, you’re guaranteed beach front access.
As of December 2017, two glamping tents joined the accommodation line up, and that’s not where the accommodation changes to this island resort stop.
Over the past year, three blocks of Reef Units have been totally renovated (with the final two due to be finished in 2020) and the four Eco Cabins renovated with new walls, louvres and glass sliding doors to take in the views.
Travelling as a group? Lady Elliot Island won’t bust the budget with Eco-Cabins and Units that sleep up to four people.
No need to worry about overcrowding during your stay. Even with the addition of new glamping tents and the update to the reef units, there’s still only 43 rooms, making this one of the most intimate island resorts on the reef.
7. Your stay is all-inclusive
You know those holidays where you are constantly dipping your hands into your pocket? Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is not one of them.
Included in your room rate, is a glass-bottom boat and guided snorkelling tour, a range of guided tours/activities plus free use of snorkel gear during your entire stay.
On solid ground, there’s an Activities Team taking care of your to-do list, with more free fun from fish feeding and reef walking to historical island tours and a behind-the-scenes look at how the eco resort runs.
8. You can even do Lady Elliot Island in a day
Just because you’re time poor, doesn’t mean you won’t leave rich with experiences on Lady Elliot Island. Did you know you can even do a day trip, flying in from Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast?
A day trip package will include return scenic flights, snorkel gear, the combined glass-bottom boat and guided snorkel tour, an extra guided afternoon activity, plus a buffet lunch to fuel said adventure.
This post was published in May 2017 and updated in October 2019.