Lady Elliot Island manta ray cleaning party.
Lady Elliot Island manta ray cleaning party.

Island haven back in swim

DAYDREAMING of a winter break on a Barrier Reef tropical island where you can dive and snorkel among the coral?

Your dreams can come true when Lady Elliot Island reopens on June 13 for overnight guests and day trips from Brisbane.

Lady Elliot is within 250km of the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg via a scenic day flight.

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort owner Peter Gash says the family-run island will operate on a 50 per cent-bed capacity under their COVIDSafe plan. This ensures all operations comply with strict Queensland Health guidelines.

Peter also operates the Seair light aircraft that will whisk you from Redcliffe Airport to Lady Elliot and back for the best reef day trip from Brisbane. The plane boards early morning and flies up the coastline past the holiday spots of Mooloolaba and Noosa and the contrasting sands of Rainbow Beach.

After an 80-minute flight, guests arrive at Lady Elliot, and it doesn't take long before you are dipping into the water and swimming among the coral.

Manta rays and turtles are frequently spotted here, and divers and snorkellers both find tropical fish, sea cucumbers, starfish, clams and sea urchins.

Guided snorkel tours and snorkel safaris help ensure everyone gets a chance to explore the reef. There is also a glass-bottomed boat, which reveals all the underwater action as you glide over the surface.

On low tide the beach becomes a different sort of wonderland as the island's marine biologists take groups out to explore the littoral zone. Be sure to pack a pair of old sandshoes or beach shoes to walk among the coral. Bright-blue starfish are plentiful here.

It doesn't take long to walk around this 45-hectare coral cay island, which is home to 88 species of birds. Once mined for guano, it is now a wildlife sanctuary.

Peter has put Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort at the environment forefront with hybrid solar-power stations replacing diesel engines.

The Lady Elliot day-trip flight gives you five hours to explore the island. You'll be able to pack in plenty during that time, including a swim, snorkel, beach walk, island exploration and lunch. For more information, visit