Day began on an ominous note with 1 hour delay due to plane tyre puncture and gathering storm clouds over Bundaberg. Would have been good to have received some form of update from check-in desk, instead of waiting for pilot to roll up on his arrival from initial departure point of Hervey Bay. Trip was birthday treat for our daughter, as she was unable to get along to the Lady Musgrave trip we did a few weeks earlier, so some comparisons follow. She enjoyed being co-pilot on the short flight over and we did a quick scenic 360 of the island, spotting a huge ray in the water, before landing.
Certainly no time for a detailed orientation tour and intro, as glass bottom boat/snorkel trip departed 30 minutes after disembarking, meaning we had a bit of frantic rush to collect snorkel gear from dive shop, find some reef shoes (strongly advise bring your own) and store bags in handy locker room. My wife managed to get fitted with a free prescription mask, which was great. So with sun out and weather humid, conditions for the trip around the reef were excellent, as was our guide, who spent the whole of our 45 minute snorkel in the water with us making sure we were quickly alerted to any interesting creatures, such as rays and turtles.
Our buffet lunch was available in the rustic resort restaurant bar area from midday, so as additional snorkelling off the beach was allowed at high tide range up until 3pm, we decided to eat early and then explore the islands tracks and beaches before heading into the water again. The range of both hot and cold food on offer was plentiful and enjoyable and the bar was surprisingly well-stocked for a remote location, meaning the stay-over guests looked as though they were pretty well looked after.
The bird-life on the island is very varied and easy to get up close to and we enjoyed the laid-back vibe of the location with its scattered beach huts and benches along the foreshore and with green turtles swimming alongside us. There are several further snorkelling options off the beach, but we chose the inner lagoon just a few steps down from the restaurant, which was enjoyable but not spectacular. Just enough time to see some fish feeding in a deep pool that a previous lighthouse keeper had created, before changing up and enjoying a quick a beer in the ‘departure lounge’.
The short 20 minute flight is a hands-down winner over the 90mins choppy boat journey to Lady Musgrave and the lunch option was superior. Lady Elliot does have a slightly more touristic feel, but the bird life and presence of large rays and a lot of turtles is a plus and the day’s activities are not so regimented. However, we felt there is definitely a greater diversity of corals in the shallower areas around Lady Musgrave. Overall, despite the relatively high cost for a day trip and a slow start, this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a big thumbs-up to our lovely snorkelling guide.
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