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Lady Elliot Island Snorkeling – When to come & What to see

Visiting Lady Elliot Island offers you a lifetime experience while snorkeling above Australia’s vibrant corals and exploring the rich marine life! This paradise Eco Resort at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, within a Marine National Park is the perfect place for active family holidays or romantic getaways!

Anett Szaszi - Snorkel Around The World

Written by Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver, and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years of experience. She fell in love with the ocean while snorkeling in the Red Sea on a vacation to Egypt back in 2008. Since then, she has been traveling to discover the world’s best snorkeling spots and sharing her experience and tips to inspire others. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

Lady Elliot Island Things To Know

The worldwide-known Lady Elliot Island is a coral cay of the South Great Barrier Reef. Thanks to its remote location, the surrounding coral reefs feature extreme biodiversity and the water clarity is excellent all year round. Moreover, it is located in a ‘Green Zone’ marine protected area which is the highest protection zone on the Great Barrier Reef.

Lady Elliot Island

Besides rich marine life, the island features the highest seabird diversity in the region! The 42 Hectares size makes it ideal for walks to observe the bird population. No matter you wish to enjoy some relaxing days enjoying the amazing view and beautiful nature, or want to come for a Lady Elliot snorkeling holiday, this eco-tourism destination is worth exploring!

Best Time To Visit

Lady Elliot snorkeling and diving trips are great all over the year with outstanding water clarity. The summer months from November to March bring perfect beach weather and water temperatures around 24-25 C.

But for the highest chance to spot pelagic species, manta rays, and whales, the cooler winter months are the best! Although temperatures are lower in this season, the sea drops to 18-20 C between June and July, so bring a long sleeve wetsuit that keeps you warm!

Green Sea Turtle
Green Sea Turtle

If you want to come for the turtle season, arrive between November and March which is the nesting period, to experience the hatchling season, come between January and April. Manta rays can be spotted any time of the year, but the best time to see them is from May to August, while the humpback whale season runs from June to October.

How To Get To Lady Elliot Island

This natural coral cay is easily reachable from South-East Queensland. You can get to the island with a seaplane journey that offers you a wonderful opportunity to explore the area from a bird’s-eye view. The Lady Elliot Island Resort reservation team will help you with booking your flights once you completed your reservation. There is no boat service.

Flights to Lady Elliot Island are available from the following locations:

  • Bundaberg
  • Herver Bay
  • Brisbane – Redcliffe
  • Gold Coast – Coolangatta

The journey takes about 30-40 mins from Bundaberg and Herver Bay, 80 minutes from Brisbane, and about 100 minutes from Gold Coast.

Lady Elliot Coral Island
This is Paradise! This will be your view when approaching the island!

Tip: would you prefer another island on the Great Barrier Reef that is accessible by boat too? Read our Heron Island post!

Lady Elliot Eco Resort

The Lady Elliot is an eco-resort, that operates following the 4 E’s sustainable tourism philosophy. This means that the management and staff believe in constant Education in order to be Efficient, Economically Sustainable, and able to look after the Environment. Based on these principles, they generate their own power, desalinate seawater for drinking purposes, maintain a wastewater treatment plant, and recycle the majority of their rubbish.

When establishing the Lady Elliot Eco Resort, they made all the efforts to leave the minimum impact on the environment. The Resort has gained a wealth of knowledge in these technologies and has set new benchmarks for sustainable tourism in Australia. An interesting fact is that the resort does not offer fish or seafood on its menu reflecting its policy of marine conservation.

You won’t find here luxurious rooms but eco-conscious travelers will love the simpler buildings that give a ‘close-to-nature feeling. The Lady Elliot Resort has 43 rooms. The 2-bedroom Island Suites and Garden rooms are perfect for families while the Reef Units near Sunrise Beach are ideal for couples. The hut-style Eco-cabins can be a great option for a group of friends with bunk beds and shared bathroom facilities.

For those who seek even more eco-experience, camping is also possible, just choose a tent as your room type! The room rates include buffet breakfast and dinner served in the Beachfront Restaurant. The Café offers snacks and light meals during the day.

Holiday Package

The team of the eco-resort is committed to providing its guests with a memorable stay while experiencing most of the island’s natural beauty on land and under the water. According to the seasons, you can choose the Turtle Trek or the Manta Migration packages that are designed specially to encounter these wonderful creatures.

Migrating Humpback Whale in Australia
Migrating Humpback Whale

In certain periods also ‘Buy 4 – Get 1-night free’ deals are available and the resort offers shared packages with the Kingfisher Bay Resort and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. For more information on the Lady Elliot packages, feel free to contact the reservation team!

Lady Elliot Island Day Trips

However the best is to stay as long as possible on a dreamy destination like this coral cay, but for those who don’t have time for longer holidays but still want to enjoy a great Lady Elliot snorkeling day, the island offers all-inclusive day trips departing from Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Brisbane and Gold Coast. After a short flight, you will have the whole day to snorkel, explore around, or just relax on the beach.

Guided snorkel tours, glass-bottom tours, and other activities are organized by the staff. The Lady Elliot day trip package also includes a welcome drink and buffet lunch as well as equipment for snorkeling. Just bring UV protection clothing or a wetsuit for snorkeling and biodegradable ocean safe sunscreen. Don’t forget to pack your waterproof compact camera, there will be many things to capture!

What Species To See While Snorkeling At Lady Elliot

This natural coral cay offers top conditions for snorkelers and divers to explore Australia’s unique sea life. Knowing that it is located just about 10 km far the East Australian Current and continental shelf gives a guarantee that you get the highest chance here to see pelagic species!

Manta Ray underwater - Lady Elliot Island
A reef manta at Lady Elliot

In total, there are more than 1200 different species living on the surrounding coral reefs including a wide variety of tropical fish, different types of coral, sea cucumbers, sea clams, sea stars, and urchins. Turtles and manta rays are present year-round. The shallow snorkeling lagoons are regularly visited by different types of rays, turtles (Hawksbill, Green, and Loggerhead species), and harmless shark species!

Best Snorkel Spots On The Island

You do not need to take long boat trips, the best Lady Elliot snorkeling spots are available from the shore!

The Lagoon

The Lagoon is an easy snorkel trail on the east side of the island right in front of the resort area. In the shallow water, you could learn how to use your gear if you never snorkeled before, the guides from the dive shop will help you gladly!

Lighthouse And Coral Garden

This advanced snorkel trail on the west side is marked with white buoys and leads through deeper waters between the Lighthouse and Coral Garden spots. Around this spectacular reef, you will get the best Lady Elliot snorkeling experience with turtles, rays, and sharks resting on the sea bottom and big shoals of fish around. Moreover, the outer reef is a manta cleaning station!

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Australia Lady Elliot Island from above

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