Ask Lonely Planet: Riches of reef in easy reach
My husband, 15-year-old son and I are travelling to Queensland in June. We will be visiting Hervey Bay as part of our trip and staying a few days at Lady Elliot Island. I'd appreciate some advice on what clothes/gear to take for the expected weather/temperature conditions and activities, as there is a 10kg weight limit for travelling to the island. - Caro Lai
Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater write:
Some non-divers wonder if it's really worth going to the Great Barrier Reef "just to snorkel". The answer is a resounding yes. There are some fantastic sites for snorkellers, with much of the rich, colourful coral lying just underneath the surface.
Lady Elliot Island deservedly features as one of the 20 Top Experiences in Lonely Planet's Queensland & the Great Barrier Reef guidebook. This eco-friendly resort island is one of the loveliest and most peaceful places to experience the reef.
The snorkelling straight off Lady Elliot's white sands is guaranteed to leave you awestruck.
The living reef surrounding the tiny coral cay is teeming with tropical fish, turtles and the island's resident manta rays. You won't be there in time to see baby turtles scampering across the sand (hatching time is January to April), but you may be lucky enough to spot migrating humpback whales.
Getting to the island is equally memorable, with a scenic flight over the turquoise reef-spattered waters. Only Seair's light aircraft ply the route to the island from Bundaberg and Hervey, hence the 10kg limit. However, as rates at the resort usually include breakfast, dinner and snorkelling gear, most of your luggage allowance can be taken up with clothes, toiletries, and other travel essentials such as sunblock, camera and a torch.
The island generally enjoys a mild winter, with daytime temperatures in June between 17 and 22C. Warm clothing and wet-weather gear, however, will ensure you enjoy your stay. Ocean temperatures hover around 20C, which is pleasant for snorkelling in a wet suit. You can hire one from the resort dive shop for around AU$20 ($25) per day.