Lady Elliot Island is the southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The island is the closest Great Barrier Reef Island to Brisbane, and is approximately 45 hectares.
The island sits within the “green zone” of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is the highest possible classification in the area.
Areas within the “green zone” are considered to be important for maintaining biodiversity in the area.
As such, Lady Elliot Island has a number of important breeding areas for local wildlife, including humpback whales, protected, including sea grass beds, mangrove communities, deep-water shoals, and reefs.
Given that the island is far offshore at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, the area is known for its crystal clear water quality, making it ideal for snorkeling and diving.
Additionally, there is a total ban on fishing or taking anything from the water in the area, thus leading to an abundance of sea life for divers and snorkelers to observe.
The island is also an important sea turtle habitat, with hundreds of turtles nesting on the island and laying between 80-120 eggs each. In January to April, guest can watch small turtle hatchlings scramble towards the ocean.
Lady Elliot Island: Accommodation
The only accommodation on the island is the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, which is a small and relaxed forty-one room setup.
The primary goal of the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is to provide visitors with an authentic eco-tourism experience.
The resort constantly strives to find new ways to help their guests better enjoy the natural resources of the island while also ensuring the impact of the resort on the island is minimal.
The resort was established in 1984 when a series of buildings, prebuilt on the mainland, were brought to the island.
Those same structures remain in place today, housing a number of guests each year.
The resort offers three different accommodation options:
1) Reef Units (13): The reef units are arranged in blocks of three.
They come with a queen bed, or a combination of a queen bed and a bunk bed, thus making them perfect for couples or families both.
Each of the units is slightly elevated and comes with timber floors, ensuite bathrooms, and a balcony, perfect for enjoying the ocean views. The units are fan cooled and come with a mini fridge and tea and coffee making equipment.
The reef units are no more than ten metres away from Sunrise Beach.
2) Garden Units (11): The Garden Units each sleep four people and the come equipped with a queen sized bed and a bunk bed.
The Garden Units are otherwise the same as the reef units with the sole difference being they are slightly farther away (a twenty to thirty metre walk) from Sunrise Beach.
3) Eco Cabins (12): The Eco Cabins are also located around twenty to thirty metres away from the beach.
The cabins are spacious, permanent safari style tents with polished wood floors and shared bathroom facilities.
Each one sleeps four people and contains two bunk beds. Each cabin has electricity and a free standing fan.
4) Two Bedroom Island Suites (5): The two bedroom suites each sleep four people and offer full beach frontage.
The suites boast an air-conditioned lounge room and a private balcony overlooking Sunrise Beach. The rooms also have a mini fridge, tea and coffee making equipment, and a microwave.
No matter which option you select, your fare comes with complimentary buffet breakfast and dinner. For lunch, guests can decide whether they would like the lunch buffet or a lighter meal from the Beachside Café.
What to Do
The main attraction on Lady Elliot Island is the stunning natural environment.
The island is small enough to walk in 45 minutes (guests should bring reef shoes if they have them as the island is entirely composed of crushed coral), which is a great way for guests to get a feel for everything the island has to offer.
The water around the island normally has a visibility of over 20 metres, which makes it the best area in the Great Barrier Reef for snorkeling or scuba diving.
With that great visibility, divers can see all the fantastic wildlife the Lady Elliot has to offer, including manta rays, turtles, whales, dolphins, sharks, and, “the entire cast of Finding Nemo.”
There are over 1,200 different species of marine life in the waters surrounding Lady Elliot Island allowing snorkelers and divers of all levels the opportunity to experience the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef right outside their door.
The island comes equipped with a PADI dive shop, and it offers a number of different PADI certified dive courses.
If swimming isn’t for you, there are also glass bottom boat tours, as well as a number other guided activities. The island restricts the number of visitors each day, so no matter what you do, you will be able to experience everything at Lady Elliot Island in an uncrowded environment.
How to Get There
Lady Elliot is the only island on the Great Barrier Reef to have its own airstrip.
To book a flight to the island, visitors should contact the reservations team at the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort. There is no boat access to the island.
The only way there is via one of these plane transfers.