Freedive with Manta Rays at Lady Elliot Island, Australia, 23-29 May 2021
Lady Elliot Island is a beautiful coral cay located on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The island lies within a Marine National Park ‘Green Zone’ and forms part of Australia’s World Heritage Listed Area on the Great Barrier Reef. Known as the Home of the Manta Ray, mantas are regularly seen in the waters around the island and there have been close to 1000 individuals recognised.
Located in an area where fishing is prohibited, marine life around the island is abundant. Manta rays are sighted almost every day - feeding, cleaning or cruising around the island. There are resident dolphins around the island that make regular appearances on the surrounding reefs. From May to Oct, humpback whales migrate north from the Antarctic, through the east coast of Australia and can usually be seen from land. If we are lucky, we’ll get to see them in the water too! You can expect to see turtles, sharks, stingrays and multiple species of fish. The sites we will be visiting are between 5-20m deep. During the trip, we will take photo identification shots of manta rays and submit them to Project Manta, a research project conducting multiple studies on the manta rays of Australia. These photos will help researchers with population analyses. If a new individual is identified from your photo, you will get to name it!
To get an idea of the wildlife you can see in the waters around Lady Elliot Island, watch this video.
There will be guided freediving sessions each morning and afternoon led by Michelle, who has been to the island many times and conducted research on the manta rays there. Water temperature will be 21-24 degrees Celsius, and a wetsuit at least 2.5mm thick is recommended. In order to get the most out of this trip, we recommend having at least a Molchanovs Wave 1 (or equivalent) certification, and be able to dive to ~16m repeatedly.
Lady Elliot Eco Resort, the only accommodation offered on the island, has won multiple awards for their ecotourism efforts. Each unit, tent and cabin were designed to minimise impact on the island while enriching guests’ experiences of the seasonal wildlife. We will be staying in the resort’s Eco Cabins (4 people to a cabin) with shared facilities.
Various daily tours are conducted by the resort, with topics ranging from island flora and fauna biology, to behind-the-scenes operations of the eco resort.
The cost for the trip is $2130 ($2050 if you pay by Paynow).
Booking and cancellation policy
There are 6 spots available on this trip. A $500 (payment by credit card)/$450 (payment by Paynow) deposit (non refundable) is required to secure your spot, and the balance is payable 2 months prior to the trip.
Please check the current visa requirements for your nationality to travel to Australia and ensure that you have the appropriate visa, if required.
31 May 2020:
- Meet at Hervey Bay airport at 12pm (the flight is at 1pm and check in is half an hour before, please don't be late!)
- Take scenic flight over to Lady Elliot Island
- Settle into cabins
- Briefing on safety and how to take identification photos of manta rays
- Afternoon dive
How to get to Hervey Bay airport:
1) Hire a car and drive from Brisbane/Gold Coast/Sunshine Coast airport (about half a day's drive). You can park your car at Hervey Bay airport for the week while you are on the island. Car parking rates can be found here.
1-5 Jun 2020:
- Morning and afternoon dives, other activities
6 Jun 2020:
- Early morning dive (optional)
- Flight out from Lady Elliot Island to Hervey Bay airport at 9.30am.
Included in the costs are:
- Accommodation as described
- Return flight from Hervey Bay airport to Lady Elliot Island
- 12 guided freediving sessions (11 shore dives and 1 boat dive to the outer reefs other side of the island which are otherwise hard to access)
- Guided walks and tours on the island
- Full buffet dinner and breakfast (buffet lunch can be pre-purchased at $25 at time of booking, or ala carte lunch is available from the resort’s cafe)
- Environmental Management Charge
- Travel to and from your location to Hervey Bay airport.
- Activities other than as described above
- Travel insurance: All participants must carry their own travel insurance, which covers freediving as an activity (e.g. World Nomads) and includes medical evacuation insurance.
- Equipment rental: Equipment is available for rent at the following rates:
|Item / Amount per item for the week (SGD)|
|Mask +snorkel/weight belt - 30|
|Freediving fins - 50|
|Wetsuit (limited availability) - 70|
Lead weight for weight belt (1 kg each) - 12
*Rental of weights on the island is $15 per day
Please note that you will need to collect the items in Singapore (or Hervey bay
airport if you don't live in Singapore) for and bring them to Lady Elliot Island and
back, as there is a 15kg baggage limit per person