Top Spot - Lady Elliot Island
LADY Elliot Island has some of the best shore diving sites in Australia. Located off the western side of this coral cay are wonderful coral gardens and spectacular bommies that can be explored by walking to the edge of the reef and jumping in.
Anchor Bommie is a towering pinnacle of coral, rising from the sandy seabed at 20m and standing 8m tall. The bommie is covered in colourful corals and riddled with ledges and caves which can be packed with baitfish.
Also hiding in these ledges are tasselled wobbegongs, moray eels, lionfish, spanish dancer nudibranchs and many other species.
Around Anchor Bommie expect to see stingrays, turtles, shovelnose rays, leopard sharks, reef sharks, gropers, eagle rays and a great variety of tropical and pelagic fish.
Manta rays are one of the main attractions here, commonly observed hovering over the bommie to get serviced by the resident cleaner wrasse.
Manta rays are also common at Lighthouse Bommies, a group of small coral heads in 15m of water. The manta rays gather here to get cleaned but also to feed, swimming above and around the bommies with their mouths open wide to consume tiny plankton.
Exploring Lighthouse Bommies, divers will see similar marine life as at Anchor Bommie, and a few dolphins or sea snakes. In the sand beyond the Lighthouse Bommies, a colony of garden eels rise from the sand and sway back and forth with the current.
The Shark Pools is best snorkelled on the incoming tide. At low tide sharks gather here and, as the tide rises, the sharks slip over the reef to hunt for trapped fish. It is common to see a dozen or so white tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks and grey reef sharks in only 12cm of water.
It is quite safe, as the sharks are usually shy of divers and are more interested in finding fish to eat. Many of the white tip reef sharks can also be found resting in the caves that dot the reef here, allowing you a close view of these sleek predators.
Beyond the Shark Pools are another couple of brilliant bommies, Brain Coral Bommie and Maori Wrasse Bommie. Both of these sites have picturesque coral and healthy fish populations.
Besides the wonderful shore diving, there are many spectacular boat dives on offer around the island. Lady Elliot Island is the southern most island of the Great Barrier Reef. Located east of Bundaberg, the island is accessible by light plane. The island re'sort is quite low-key, not overwhelming the delicate island environment, and it has excellent facilities.
When not diving or snorkelling, guests can relax on the beach or observe the many thousands of sea birds that nest on the island. Information: Lady Elliot Island HOlidays Ph: 1800072200.