The diving and snorkelling here is first class but it’s very difficult to dive unless you’re staying at the resort (they won’t hire you equipment or let you dive with them) so bring a mask and snorkel with you or it’s better to see the dive sites from a liveaboard to get the best out of it.
Turtle beach to Granite Head is great for seeing some reef sharks, turtles and giant clams along with some nice rock formations. Mermaid Grove has the best coral but you should be an experienced snorkeler as it’s easy to damage the delicate coral. Wear a wetsuit or some protection from the sun as you’ll be a long time in the water.
Directly off the shore the surrounding fringe reef is easily accessible and you can enjoy nine lovely sites available for any level of diver. A bit further out are the sites Bank’s Bank, The Plateau and North Direction Island. Even further still are the sites Cod Hole, Dynamite Reef, No Name Reef, Big Softie, Kate’s Place, Stepping Stones and Yonge Reef.
Cod Hole is a world famous site for its huge friendly potato cod that you can get up close and personal with. Snorkelers can enjoy this site too.
(By Kelly Luckman)
Lizard Island is the most northern of the Great Barrier Reef islands and is a National Park covering just over 10 square km. Located 240km north of Cairns, the limited access and steep costs for flights and accommodation means that very few have had the privilege of witnessing one of Australia’s best kept secrets.
There are a couple of ways to get there. From Cairns airport you can fly with MacAir for around $500 return or if you’re staying with the resort then they will organise your flight for $580 return. Alternatively you can charter a private boat from Cooktown but it’s much easier to fly.
The island is made up of one luxury five star resort, an air strip and a camping ground. Staying at the resort is only really possible for a select few as it is $1600 a night all inclusive! The other alternative is to camp and the site there is well equipped with tables and chairs, a BBQ for cooking and fresh water (which must be filtered and boiled before drinking). The only problem with camping is that you have to bring everything with you as the resort does not allow anyone but guests on the property. The airlines have a baggage allowance so be aware of this. If you fly in then get the plane to drop you at the camping site to save the walk from the airstrip. Be sure to book your campsite in advance online as there are only five sites available.
There aren’t many people visiting the island so don’t expect too much social activity. The resort opens a small bar twice a week to everyone on the island which most of the resort staff come to, along with some sailors and marine biologists. Other than that there are 24 beaches to explore (some belong to the resort though), lovely nature walks around the island and the Marine Biology Research Station open once a week and runs a tour of the area.
Day trips can be done to Lizard Island but they are rather expensive. You can do this trip on a budget if you camp and you’ll feel like Robinson Crusoe on your own tropical deserted island, something you won’t experience on many of your travels.
(By Kelly Luckman)