Would you be surprised if I told you that you could be snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef right out of Bundaberg? Well, you 100% can and the friendly folk at the Lady Musgrave Experience are the people that can get you there.
Lady Musgrave Island is located a 2 hour and 15-minute boat ride from the port of Bundaberg and Lady Musgrave Experience operates daily tours to let you experience both the island and the waters that surround it. The island is the second most south island of the Great Barrier Reef.
After a fairly gnarly ride out in rougher than normal seas, we arrived just before 10 am. At this point we were divided into our 4 groups that they use to coordinate rotating through the activities on offer to ensure everyone gets a chance to try everything and to make sure there is enough staff with each group to give you a personal experience.
Our first activity was a 45-minute glass-bottom boat tour. The driver took us out over the coral and pointed out the different types of coral we were seeing as well as identifying the many different types of colourful fish (we didn’t find Nemo). The best part of the glass bottom boat tour was when we hovered right over the top of a big coral that was a “turtle cleaning station”. The turtles use this station like a carwash. They pull up, settle into a comfy spot and a number of little fish come and clean off its shell so it is sparkly and new looking. Once they are all clean, the turtles continue on their merry way. We saw four turtles in the station being cleaned. The guide told us these were Green Turtles, which were different from the Loggerhead turtles we had seen at Mon Repos a couple of days ago.
The glass-bottom boat then dropped us on Lady Musgrave Island for our 45-minute walking tour of the island. The guide that took us around the island was friendly and entertaining. The island is home to lots of birdlife as well as being a big breeding ground for turtles. Whilst walking through the forest, we discovered one of the members of our group was terrified of birds, which made quite for quite an entertaining commentary coming out of her mouth when the many birds we saw got close to us. We left the forest and walked back along the beach where the guide pointed out multiple turtle nests.
The glass-bottom boat picked us up and took us back to the boat for lunch, which was salad, ham, chicken, prawns and the freshest sourdough bread I have ever had. During lunch, the snorkel guide came in and gave us our safety briefing so we were ready to get in the water as soon as we finished our lunch.
After being fitted for our snorkel gear, we jumped in the water which was the perfect temperature! The first thing I noticed was the excellent visibility
I have been snorkelling in several spots in the Whitsundays as well as out of Cairns and Port Douglas and can confirm that the coral, marine life and scenery is 100% on par with each of these. In fact, I saw more turtles on this trip than I have ever seen on any of the other trips I had done. Another big perk is that there is no “stinger season” like there is further north, so we were perfectly safe in the water and didn’t need to wear a wetsuit/stinger suit.
Pro tip: Lady Musgrave Island is a coral cay and home to a poisonous snail that hides along the waterline. You will need to have shoes on the entire time you are on the island, including when you are walking in the water to get on/off the glass bottom boat. Whilst thongs will do, reef shoes would be best for this activity. Remember to bring them along if you have a pair and if you don’t have any they do sell them onboard for $25 if you decide you want them.