Lady Elliot Island the World’s Best Place to Swim with Manta Rays
The praise keeps coming for some of Australia’s less internationally known holiday destinations. Following the focus on Hobart after being nominated one of the world’s “Must-Visit Cities for 2013” by travel giant TripAdvisor, Queensland’s Lady Elliot Island has been labeled the “#1 Location in the World to Dive with Manta Rays” by independent international diving authority PADI. With over 450 manta rays having been recorded in the waters surrounding Lady Elliot Island – which forms part of the Whitsundays group of islands and lies roughly 85 kilometres off the eas coast of Queensland – the abundance of these graceful creatures has become a major drawcard for diving enthusiasts from both Australia and abroad alike.
Lady Elliot Island owes its high quantity of mantas to the large concentration of plankton that are continually pushed past its shores, drawing the mantas in as a feeding ground while also serving as a form of cleaning station for the creatures. The mantas – with their peculiar yet sleek shapes and passive, docile natures – have long been a favourite of underwater photographers and make for the ideal photo subjects given their combination of size and calm movement. With the largest brains of any fish in the ocean, Mantas are curious by nature and have even been known to actively seek out divers to swim alongside.
Combine the manta rays with all the other abundant marine life found off the shores of Lady Elliot (particularly its many varieties of marine turtles) and it’s no wonder that the island is fast becoming a hot spot on many traveller’s itineraries. If you’re looking visit Lady Elliot Island yourself, it’s easy to simply fly in from one of the many nearby departure points (such as the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Hervey Bay or Bundaberg), with flights operating regularly and delivering you practically to the shore. If you’re interested in planning a trip to Lady Elliot Island, check out our detailed “Best Time of the Year to Visit Lady Elliot Island” article for a more comprehensive breakdown!