Whilst there are so many amazing Great Barrier Reef islands to visit, if you’re unsure which is the best one for you, here’s our 10 reasons why you need to visit Lady Elliot Island and stay at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.
Now we must admit, the Southern Great Barrier Reef is just absolutely amazing. We’ve been fortunate to visit Great Keppel Island and Lady Musgrave Island, but nothing prepared us for how incredible Lady Elliot Island truely is.
Whilst we’ve already written about our experience staying at the only Lady Elliot Island accommodation at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, here’s some of the reasons why you need to visit one of the best Great Barrier Reef islands.
1. Best diving in the world with manta rays
PADI won’t say Lady Elliot Island is home to the world’s best diving with manta rays for nothing!
Home to over an impressive 1200 marine life on this tiny island, it’s a spectacular diving spot to visit manta rays.
With a PADI dive shop on the island, you can sign up to an introductory dive if you’ve never dived before. Whilst the diving is quite shallow at around 20 metres, it’s a great place to learn how to scuba dive in Australia. The diving staff are really professional and definitely made me feel at ease during the experience.
Whilst we didn’t see any manta rays during our one dive in June, we did see a massive pod of eagle rays hanging out together and it was easily the best diving in the world I have ever done. The coral is alive and in the best shape I’ve seen along the Great Barrier Reef, and we also saw an abundance of marine life including sharks, turtles and loads of fish.
If you’re wondering about whether you can snorkel instead of diving to see manta rays, I’d recommend diving because you get to go deeper which will increase your chances significantly.
2. Find the only pink manta ray in the world
When Lady Elliot Island is home to the world’s only pink mantra ray, it deserves a reason to visit this island in Great Barrier Reef.
Affectionately known as Inspector Clouseau, he was first spotted in 2015. Whilst his body is black, you can only see his pink skin whilst diving underneath him.
If you were thinking you could see the pink mantra ray by snorkelling, it would be pretty impossible to do so.
So why is his skin pink? Turns out he’s got a rare genetic mutation after scientists from the mantra ray research group called Project Manta managed to take a small skin biopsy from him.
If you’re lucky enough to spot the only pink manta ray in the world at Lady Elliot Island, it will be a memory which will stay with you for a lifetime.
3. Dive with humpback whales
Whilst Lady Elliot Island is all about diving with manta rays, if you time it right and visit between June – August, you might be lucky to dive with humpback whales.
Whilst whales don’t usually swim inside a reef, we actually saw one jumping out of the water when we first arrived on the island. It was an amazing sight to be seen and would have been even more amazing to witness whilst diving nearby.
4. Snorkel with turtles on Lady Elliot Island
Welcome to the best snorkelling in the world at Lady Elliot Island. The Lagoon is absolutely mind blowing and one of the best highlights about visiting the island. Expect to come as close as it gets to a huge amount of turtles.
We saw at least 10 turtles, all up close to us which we found to be quite remarkable because they were quite happy to swim so close to us, rather than to swim away.
If you go snorkelling out by the lighthouse, the whole area has been carefully designed for even people who haven’t snorkelled before. You’ll find ropes to hold onto all around the reef as well as seating stations so you can walk out into the water with your reef shoes on, sit down at the station to change into your fins and put your shoes in the rack above the station to pick up on your return.
5. Prince Charles, The Irwins & David Attenborough’s crew have all visited the island
There’s a reason why Prince Charles and David Attenborough’s crew visited Lady Elliot Island.
As a big conservationist, Prince Charles brought 70 of Australia’s biggest CEO’s to the island to highlight the incredible work they are doing to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Turns out this isn’t a first, many companies come to Lady Elliot Island to learn all about their forward thinking to sustainability and protecting the eco system.
David Attenborough also sent his crew over to film a piece on the Great Barrier Reef and even personally invited the resort’s MD, Peter Gash to London for a private screening of the TV series.
The Irwin family are also regular visitors of Lady Elliot Island. When I asked if they book out the entire island, they don’t and are happy to holiday with the other guests.
It’s hard to believe just 50 years ago Lady Elliot Island was known as The Rock because there was nothing on it. The team at the Lady Elliot Island Eco Lodge have gone well above and beyond to regenerate the entire island. It would be hard not to be in awe of what they have achieved.
6. Learn all about the regeneration of Lady Elliot Island
One of the really cool things to do on Lady Elliot Island is to go on the backstage tours they offer. Here you’ll learn all about the regeneration of the island.
We learnt all about how they make their own water from using the ocean as the source and filtering it out into drinking and waste water. I must admit, it was the cleanest water I’ve ever tasted in my life!
We also learnt about how the island will be 100% solar powered by the end of 2020, how 20,000 pisonia trees will be planted on the island and how thousands of birds come to nest in the trees.
Everything you see on the island is put back into it, including any food waste which goes into the soil to help grow the trees. It’s an amazing island you’ll be blown away when you learn all about these facts.
Watch our video!
7. The flight over to Lady Elliot Island
You can only visit Lady Elliot Island by taking a flight in a small plane from either Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Brisbane or Gold Coast.
The flight itself is so much fun and such a novelty, you’ll be buzzing as soon as you arrive onto the island. Being able to see the Southern Great Barrier Reef island from above is absolutely spectacular and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to sit in the cockpit like I did!
8. The perfect digital detox
When we found out there was no phone reception on the island, we quickly bought the wifi credit from reception which can be used in certain areas around the resort. But, we didn’t actually use it at all because we realised not long afterwards to take advantage of the digital detox.
It almost feels weird seeing guests on their phones because you just want to appreciate every single moment you have on Lady Elliot Island. Having the opportunity to live in the moment and not be consumed with social media is a god given you won’t regret.
Plus, you probably won’t have any time to just sit and scroll endlessly on your phone because there are so many activities to keep you busy. From glass bottom boat tours, to island tours and lagoon tours, you won’t be bored. We especially loved playing bingo with the other guests at night time too.
9. The remarkable staff
We have never witnessed more friendly staff anywhere else in the world than at Lady Elliot Island.
If you’re ever lucky to have a conversation with the managing director Peter Gash, you’ll soon realise how passionate he and his team are about the island. It’s no wonder this incredible man was recently awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his contribution towards ecotourism and aviation.
His life story is absolutely fascinating that I’d personally want to read his biography if there ever was one.
The staff also go out of their way for you on Lady Elliot Island. You can see how passionate everyone is about working there that their positivity and passion just radiates onto the guests.
10. Amazing family holiday in Great Barrier Reef
Lady Elliot Island makes a fantastic family holiday in Great Barrier Reef because it ticks so many boxes. Whilst you’ve got a swimming pool and playground to keep the kids entertained, the cool part is they will learn so much about conservation and so will you.
Take the kids on the many tours to go on around the island from being able to go into the solar panel rooms to learning all about the island and the preservation of it, they will love being in this Great Barrier Reef Island.
It’s also a fantastic place to teach kids to snorkel and to be honest the best snorkelling in the world too!
The great thing about the island is that it’s actually an affordable family holiday. You can choose between various accommodation options from the cabins, to two bed apartments and even the beautiful glamping tents which are perfect for couples.
We can’t wait to go back to Lady Elliot Island, it’s easily the best gem in Australia we’ve seen to date!
Reasons to visit Lady Elliot Island
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