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Best time to visit Lady Elliot Island Queensland Australia
Experience Oz + NZ Presents

The Best Time to Visit

lady elliot island

by Experience Oz + NZ staff

If you're looking for a travel destination that encapsulates the Great Barrier Reef, then it's hard to look past the highly-acclaimed Lady Elliot Island. Here we discuss the best time to visit this popular QLD island destination.

As the southernmost island in the Great Barrier Reef, it's a spot that's renowned for incredible diving quality and has been named the best spot in the world to go scuba diving with manta rays by international regulator PADI. This is no small feat, given some of the more famous international destinations it's compared to.

Lady Elliot Island lies roughly 85km to the north-east of the Queensland town of Bundaberg and is accessible by boat and air as the island has it's own small airstrip to accommodate light aircraft.

The Best time to visit Lady Elliot Island Queensland Australia

However, travelling to Lady Elliot is not exactly cheap, therefore, the answer to when is the best time of the year to visit Lady Elliot Island question is an important one. If you're going to be spending a significant amount of money, you'll want to ensure you get the most out of your trip.

According to our sources on Lady Elliot Island, the best time to visit might go against public perception. The consensus was that winter is the best time to visit Lady Elliot for a variety of different, yet understandable, reasons. So what exactly makes Lady Elliot Island in winter special? Read on to find out


A brief summary of this article

  • Winter dubbed the best time of year to visit Lady Elliot Island (June-August)
  • Rated the best spot to dive with manta rays in the world by PADI
  • Great water visibility during winter; diving, snorkelling, glass-bottom boat tours a must
  • Average winter temperatures: Max 22ºC (72ºF) , Min 17ºC (62ºF)
  • Turtle nesting and hatching season occurs from November to April

Why Lady Elliot Island in winter?

Diving and snorkelling are two of the most popular activities available on Lady Elliot Island, and it's during the winter months that they're at their best. The term winter is definitely relative when discussing tropical destinations such as Lady Elliot, and the water is still typically warm enough to swim in.

Combine the warm conditions with crystal clear waters and some vibrant aquatic wildlife, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better diving environment anywhere else in Australia. Turtles and Manta Rays can be found in abundance during this season and Lady Elliot provides divers and snorkellers with some impressive underwater scenes.

Whale watching season is also in full swing during the colder months and it's not uncommon to spot Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales off the shore of the island as they make their way north on their annual migration from the Antarctic. Scenic flights over the island are also incredibly popular during this time, as spotting the whales from the air can be a stunning experience to take part in.

The Best time to visit Lady Elliot Island Queensland Australia

The fact that Lady Elliot is situated in the most highly protected zone of the Great Barrier Reef makes it a haven for marine life of all kinds, and a prime example of why the Reef has been labelled as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

In addition to snorkelling and diving, many of our experts also listed glass-bottom boat tours as a must-do experience. The staff at Lady Elliot have always been extremely enthusiastic about the island and its reef and will offer a wealth of information on all the marine life passing below, while also offering you the chance to rub the backs of passing turtles within minutes of entering the water.

Combine all these things to do with the ability to simply kick back and laze in the sunshine of a pristine and relatively uncrowded island environment and it's no wonder why Lady Elliot Island is one of the most highly-regarded, yet still relatively untouched, tropical destinations not just in Australia, but the world.

Honourable Mention: Turtle-hatching Season (Nov-Apr)

One of the few downsides of visiting Lady Elliot Island in winter is that it falls outside the annual turtle nesting and hatching season, which is one of the Islands many highlights, gathering much praise from eco-enthusiasts around the country.

It's quite a lengthy window to participate in the spectacle, with nearly half the year offering the chance to view one of nature's most popular hatching rituals. During this time, various species of turtles, such as loggerheads, green turtles and hawksbills, make their way up the beach to lay their eggs in the sand. Several months later the hatchlings emerge from their nest and scurrying along the sand into the nearby surf.

The Best time to visit Lady Elliot Island Queensland Australia

The turtles perform their hatching rituals in a strictly-regulated section of Lady Elliot Island known as the 'green zone'. Torches are banned in this area during hatching season as they can distract the newborn turtles as they follow the light of the moon towards the water. It's truly a unique experience and one that serves as a great consolation prize should your holiday plans fall outside the winter period.

Can I experience Lady Elliot Island in one weekend?

Yes, you can. In fact, many of our recommendations suggest two days as the perfect amount of time to take in the island without feeling too rushed.

As Sonya Mroz from Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort tells us, “It's easy to simply fly in from one of the many available departure points (such as the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Hervey Bay or Bundaberg), then grab your snorkel and step straight off the shore of the coral cay islands onto the Great Barrier Reef.”

The Best time to visit Lady Elliot Island Queensland Australia

As part of the package, all overnight guests to the resort enjoy complimentary tours and activities on the island, with the chance to take part in guided island tours, reef walks, or attend one of the nightly talks at the facility's education centre.

On the second day, a Discover-Scuba-Dive-Course is a must for beginners, which allows you to get your first taste of scuba diving in some of the most beautiful surrounds available while under the friendly guidance of a qualified instructor. Lastly, Sonya also tells us that viewing the spectacular evening sunset at the Coral Gardens is one of the most unforgettable things to do on the island, so be sure to pop it on your itinerary should you make the trip to Lady Elliot Island.

In addition, if you're looking to book tours to Lady Elliot Island, be sure to visit our main tours section to view options for departing from Brisbane, Hervey Bay and the Gold Coast online.

Browse Lady Elliot Island Experiences