"Being an artist isn’t just a “right brain” activity---you must use ALL of your brain, body and spirit to create. When the creation is done, the whole is much more than the sum of its parts… and so is the creator." - Lyrae Perry

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

My first trip to Australia included snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef in 2002, and it was one of the highlights of my life!  I promised myself that I would get back to see that reef as often as I could.  I’ve been to several places on the reef and every trip is different because each part of the reef has it’s own unique ecology, residents and visitors.   The 2015 Paint Excursions, Inc. visit to Lady Elliot Island, an eco-resort is very special to me…and I already know this is a place to visit over and over.  It’s one place on the reef you can visit any time of the year and you’ll get to experience something new each time.

Lady Elliot Island (LEI) has so many options for snorkelers and divers because it’s a relatively isolated coral cay.  It’s at the Southern most tip of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef where the water is slightly cooler.  It was a refreshing 73-75′ F. , which was perfect!  LEI is within a highly protected green zone with over 1200 marine life species.  It’s best known for an abundance of manta rays, sea turtles, humpback whales, bird species and a very healthy reef filled with fish.  What it doesn’t have is box jelly fish…and that’s a wonderful bonus!

Nearly all dive/snorkel gear is included in the package, so you just have to show up to be personally fitted by helpful dive shop staff.

Nearly all dive/snorkel gear is included in the package, so you just have to show up to be personally fitted by helpful dive shop staff.

Off to the dive shop to get my gear which will be mine for the entire stay at LEI.  Don’t forget your reef shoes — which are provided for your stay as well — you’ll need them to wade out to the dive boat.  Next, we hop on a transport for crossing the landing strip and we’re off to the reef on the side of the island with the lighthouse.  Sitting next to me is 90+ year old woman in nice summer pantsuit who isn’t going to miss the glass bottom boat tour for anything! She’s happily wading out to the boat (with some help) with the rest of us.

Our first encounter with the reef is looking through the windows of our glass bottomed boat.  The water is exceptionally clear and turtles are swimming around the coral and also at the  surface.   We move on to Lighthouse Bommie where the mantas usually hang out and we drop anchor to begin snorkeling.

On the edge of the boat at Lighthouse Bommie, ready to get in the water for my first snorkel at Lady Elliot Island. The buoy line is a snorkel route guide.

On the edge of the boat at Lighthouse Bommie, ready to get in the water for my first snorkel at Lady Elliot Island. The buoy line is a snorkel route guide.

 

First look at the coral reef at LEI.

First look at the coral reef at LEI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Coral

Pink Coral

 

 

 

Loads of fish--mostly Blue Damsel fish at this coral head.

Loads of fish–mostly Blue Damsel fish at this coral head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a couple of videos from Lady Elliot Island of the incredible manta rays for your enjoyment.  Believe it or not, the turtles there actually come up to you to be petted.  So cool!

More reef to come!  Stay tuned….:-)

 

 

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