Hailed as the launch pad for the Great Barrier Reef, as their names suggest, the most southern islands of Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave are regarded as reef royalty.
Both easily accessible from Bundaberg, what makes Lady Elliot Island so special is that it is a 25-minute scenic flight away from the mainland and Queensland’s only coral island reef with an airstrip.
Meanwhile, a day cruise away from Bundaberg’s Port Marina, Lady Musgrave Island is the only coral island on the Great Barrier Reef with a navigable lagoon.
Still need convincing? Here are our reasons why you’ll love these two ladies.
Nicknamed the “first lady of the reef”, the Great Barrier Reef’s most southern island is world-renowned as the home of the manta ray, with more than 700 individual rays identified in the area. The island also hosts nesting and hatching turtles, 57 species of bird, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales.
You’ll find 19 dive sights at this delectable destination including Lighthouse Bommie, Coral Cardens, Moiri and Shark Pool, plus the shipwreck.
Lady Elliot Island was formed over a 3000 year period and offers a guided reef walk and informative displays at the Reef Education Centre. More than 50,000 birds nest here during summer and dolphins and migrating whales adore its surrounding waters.
It’s also the ideal island on which to wet your feet, literally. Beginner snorkellers can enjoy the lagoon, while those more experienced can descend with the divers into the Coral Sea beyond. A fully-equipped dive centre on the island caters for all interests and abilities.
For those who simply can’t leave after just one day, there’s a 41-room eco resort on the beachfront which caters for just 100 guests. Best of all, there are no telephones, televisions or radios to distract you here. Indulge in night-time activities such as
About two hours by boat from the Bundaberg mainland you’ll encounter Lady Musgrave, an island and lagoon. This pristine coral cay boasts 1192ha of fringing reef with an average depth of six to eight metres and sandy lagoon bottom. It is the only coral island and navigable lagoon of its kind on the Great Barrier Reef.
It is scattered with isolated coral bommies teaming with exotic fish and marine life and is an ideal place for snorkellers and divers.
The southernmost island of the Bunker Group of islands, it is also part of the Capricorn Bunker Group which contains around 75 per cent of all seabird biomass of the Great Barrier Reef.
The island provides habitat for thousands of nesting seabirds including white-capped noddy terns, bridled terns, black-naped terns and silver gulls. Between September and March, migratory shorebirds such as the Pacific golden plover also like to flock here.
It is also a nesting place for green and loggerhead turtles, and harmless small whitetip reef sharks and leopard sharks have been spotted hunting around the shallows.
A number of tour operators take daily trips to this island on high-speed catamarans with pontoons. Enjoy a range of unique reef activities, marine encounters and island discoveries:
Adventurous travellers will love the fact they can stay in a National Park wilderness campsite (permit required) on this 14ha island and indulge in a true Robinson Crusoe style experience.
This tour is special in so many ways, and is unrivalled to all other reef tours in Far North Queensland. First of all, it has the shortest open water crossing to get to the Great Barrier Reef. Fantastic news for anyone prone to motion sickness. Although this tour is a ‘Reef’ tour, it includes a ‘River Cruise’ on the journey there with Island activities on arrival. And a huge PLUS to guests that like to avoid the crowds, it has one of the lowest passenger capacities of all the island tours with a maximum of 100 guests. The destination is to an uninhabited continental island called Normanby in National Park which is part of the archipelago of Frankland Islands. It is located 10km offshore from the mouth of the Russell and Mulgrave Rivers at Russell Heads, which is approximately 45km South-East of Cairns. The Normanby Island has an abundance of wildlife not only in the water, but also on the island itself. The island is pristine, and has its own rainforest and a fringing reef not far out from its sandy shores. There are also coral gardens located further out from the island for the those that want to explore the deeper waters.
This is not a blog, it is a pitch on how good this Great Barrier Reef 2 day 1 night liveaboard dive trip from Cairns is such good value. One of our team members wrote it because she thinks it is such an amazing good value Great Barrier Reef tour, she wanted to write about it and put it on our Barrier Reef Australia blog page. We were not sure it was appropriate to pitch a single tour but we decided on free speech and free opinions so read more if you are inclined, or go to another page now. From our wonderful Great Barrier Reef Tour Specialist Chelsea Are you looking for a good value liveaboard Great Barrier Reef scuba diving adventure from Cairns without the crowds? Do you want the best dive deal money can buy in Cairns? If your answer is yes, then check out what deals we have on offer with our Great Barrier Reef Tour 2 Day 1 Night Sail, Snorkel and Scuba Dive tour!
If you are scared of the water and the creatures that live there or have never been exposed to an aquatic life in your younger years, but still wish to live out that lifelong dream of seeing the iconic wonders of the world the Great Barrier Reef, then that is okay, we have a tour that will enable you to see the coral reef from above the water and also below the water’s surface without you even getting your hair wet!
If you are travelling to Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef don't forget other iconic attractions such as the rainforest and the amazing wildlife. Do all that and save money with combo package tours.
Booking a cruise ship tour has become the big trend over the last few years as cruises offer such amazing value for an all-inclusive holiday with meals, drinks and entertainment on-board. Every single morning you can wake up to explore a new port or destination or even another country on some cruise ships.
Bundaberg Rum Distillery, come and 'Blend Your Own Rum' in Bundaberg