Embark on an extraordinary adventure with a Lady Elliot Island day trip and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing wonders of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Prepare to unveil one of Queensland’s most treasured secrets as you snorkel or scuba dive to your heart’s content. Here’s the best part: scuba diving on Lady Elliot Island is an absolute breeze! You can simply stroll right in from the pristine beach and plunge into an underwater paradise. Trust us, this thrilling day flight to Lady Elliot Island is the ultimate gateway to experiencing the reef like never before. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity.

How to do a Lady Elliot day trip

Lady Elliot Island is an easy day trip for visitors located in Brisbane via Redcliffe Airport. The 45-hectare island lies 46 nautical miles north-east of Bundaberg and it is the most southern coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef.

In just 10 hours on this Great Barrer Reef day trip, I was whisked from Brisbane’s CBD to Lady Elliot Island and back via a scenic coastline flight. I managed a lagoon swim, glass-bottom boat tour and snorkelling with turtles, rays and schooling fish, a relaxed lunch, reef walk and fish feeding. The four mainland departure points for Lady Elliot are Gold Coast, Brisbane [Redcliffe], Hervey Bay and Bundaberg).

It was a big, but rewarding day. I left Brisbane’s CBD at 7.30 am and I was back by 6 pm, tired but extremely happy and grateful to see the wonders of the reef.

Another adventure – Explore the Northern Great Barrier Reef by air

Seair operates the Lady Elliot day flight. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Lady Elliot Island day flight

The 80-minute coastline flight was an unexpected highlight as we passed over places where I’ve holidayed many times from Sunshine Beach to Fraser Island. The shapes of the Glasshouse Mountains, the cores of extinct volcanoes over 21 million years old, were an impressive sight.

Although I was hardly marooned, stepping foot on Lady Elliott felt a bit ‘Robinson Crusoe’. It’s a small, compact island that’s packed with so much wildlife, wide coral beaches and natural beauty you might not want to leave.

Once stripped bare for its prized haul of guano, Lady Elliot Island today supports thousands of nesting boobies and terns whose colours and chatter match the underwater magic.

Owner and environmental warrior, Peter Gash, has built hybrid solar power stations to replace diesel and created a climate change walk to improve reef education. The resort also uses all greywater for irrigation and is the only resort in the country to ban the use of disposable water bottles. 

The Lady Elliot day flight flies past Rainbow Beach. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Undiscovered paradise

Formed over 3000 years ago, the Lcoral cay around Lady Elliot is home to around 88 species of birds, nesting sea turtles and beautiful underwater coral teeming with marine life.

Despite being so close to Brisbane, this region is relatively undiscovered. There are no crowds on this tiny island, and a visit is more relaxed and personal.

People come here to experience a destination that’s a little less mainstream. Where it’s more about nature, reconnecting with family and friends or getting out and exploring than getting dressed for dinner.

Lady Elliot day trip

Lady Elliot glamping tents

With views over the lagoon, Lady Elliot’s glamping tents are a different way to experience the island.  The tents are set up for two adults with a queen bed and a balcony where you can relax and enjoy the island setting. 

Private bathrooms and a mini-fridge are extra bonuses in these fan-cooled tents.

Scuba diving Lady Elliot Island is a popular visitor activity. Photo: Kerry Heaney

The calm water and easy beach access make it easy to scuba dive Lady Elliot. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Lady Elliot Island snorkelling and scuba

Snorkelling is accessible right off the beach where you’ll see abundant coral and fish in the coral cay.  The underwater life here not only amazes locals, but also international adventurer Jacques Cousteau famously called the Southern Great Barrier Reef one of the world’s premier dive destinations.

Expect to discover stunning, secluded reefs populated by a unique combination of sizeable hard coral reefs around Lady Elliot Island, along with colourful fish and big marine life like turtles and manta rays.

The water is extraordinarily clear, even by Great Barrier Reef standards, so you’ll be left speechless by the experience of getting up close and personal with life in this stunning part of the Great Barrier Reef. 

The lagoon on the island’s eastern side is filled with tropical fish, sea cucumbers, starfish, clams and sea urchins.  

You’ll sound like a local if you call your reef shoes seascopes.

Guided walking tours of the lagoon are available at low tide. Just remember to wear reef walking shoes. There’s a daily glass bottom boat tour if you’d rather not get wet and guided snorkel tours and snorkel safaris for those who prefer company in the water.

You’ll see many turtles when scuba driving Lady Elliot Island. Photo: Kerry Heaney

There is so much to see on a Lady Elliot Island day flight. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Bright blue starfish can easily be found on Lady Elliot beach walks.  Photo: Kerry Heaney

Beach walks around Lady Elliot reveal lots of treasures. Photo: Kerry Heaney

Getting on a Lady Elliot day flight

You can fly to Lady Elliot from the Gold Coast and Brisbane (via Redcliffe) for the day and enjoy five hours on a Southern Great Barrier Reef island, a tour, glass-bottom boat, reef walk, lunch, buffet lunch, fish feeding, snorkel equipment, use of day guest facilities and more for $929 per adult / $550 per child. (March 2020). It’s the perfect Great Barrier Reef day trip from Brisbane.

The island is just a 25-minute flight from Bundaberg Airport.

Find out more about the Great Barrier Reef and the amazing annual coral spawn and also about how healthy is the Great Barrier Reef?

Want more island and tropical escapes?

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Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled to Lady Elliot as a guest of Tourism Queensland and Seair