Whenever a list of the greatest destinations for diving in the world
is compiled and published, Lady Elliot Island, off the coast of
Queensland, is usually somewhere in the top ten.
If diving on the Great Barrier Reef is on your holiday agenda but you
don’t have the time or motivation to travel all the way to the
Whitsundays or Cairns, Lady Elliot is the prefect destination for you.
It’s only 46 nautical miles north-east of Bundaberg and even
closer to the idyllic holiday town of 1770, so flight times from either
location are short.
With an area of just 40 hectares (99 acres), Lady Elliot Island is the
southern-most coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef. It is also one of
only six island resorts on the Great Barrier Reef (the Whitsundays are
not on the reef, but coastal islands) and one of only three with flight
access. Not only that, it is one of the few coral cays where you can
fly straight in and land on the water right on the reef, a big
advantage to maximise time in the water. It’s no wonder this area
attracts its untouched gardens of coral divers from all over the world.
Snorkelling and beginner dive options are also available for the
less-experienced who want to see the Great Barrier Reef at close range.
You can see a wealth of marine life here including a resident
population of 40 Manta Rays. There are countless varieties of fish and
live corals but you may also see some life above the water as well.
Sightings of turtles, turtle hatchlings, dolphins, birds, and even
humpback whales have been reported in this area as they travel up and
down the coast between June and October each year.
Other activities include cruising the waters surrounding the island in
a glass-bottomed boat. There is no better place to see the reef without
getting wet, and the water here is so stunningly clear that you can see
right down to the bottom. Once back on land, you can take a guided reef
walk (protective footwear is available) or be involved in fish feeding.
A resort on the island only allows 105 guests to stay overnight in
order to conserve the delicate environment. Alternatively, you can fly
in direct for a day trip from a variety of locations along the
Queensland coast, of which Bundaberg and 1770 are the closest. Daily
flights also operate out of Brisbane, Coolangatta (Gold Coast),
Maroochydore (Sunshine Coast) and Hervey Bay.
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About Lady Elliot Island
Lady Elliot Island was discovered in 1816 by Captain Tomas Stewart
who was sailing the Queensland coast in his ship the Lady Elliot. The
vessel was named after Anna Maria Elliot (1777-1829), the wife of
Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 1st Baron Minto, known as Sir Gilbert
Elliot between 1777 and 1797 and as The Lord Minto between 1797 and
1813. He was a Scottish politician who held numerous diplomatic posts,
including the Governor General of Cananda, and the colonial governor of
India, 1807 to 1813. Anna Maria Gilbert was the daughter of Sir George
Amyand, 1st Baronet, an army contractor during the Seven Years’
War and later a director of the East India Company. The vessel Lady
Elliot had been built in Bengal at the time her husband was colonial