The thirteen seater plane, circled before landing on Lady Elliot Island, the most southern island in the Great Barrier Reef. An eco-resort that takes its environmental education programs as serious as its snorkeling and diving, LEI is a sanctuary from modern technology. No cell phones, no wifi, no television in the rooms. LEI gives us an excuse to turn off all the unnecessary noise we let into our lives but really do not need.
I came prepared with a book and bathing suit and figured if I started going through tech-withdrawal, it was only three days. Immediately after collecting my complimentary snorkeling gear and making my way to the lagoon for a solo snorkel, I wished I could stay forever. The lagoon was the most translucent blue I had seen with the coral visible just below the surface. With my head under water, all I could hear was the rhythmic sounds of my long slow breathes. Listening to my breathing and watching the coral life below, I let myself float where the current took me. I had snorkeled with turtles, a reef shark, and schools of fish for hours before I even checked into my room.
Lady Elliott Island offers three accommodation options: beach front suites with air conditioning, garden suites, and eco-tents. I opted for the eco-tent, which is a minimalist permanent tent structure with wooden floors that sleeps four. There’s a light, outlet, and fan. With a small bedside table and towels, you really have everything you’ll need for your stay. Oddly, I found it cleaner and more comfortable than the last motel I stayed at in Bundaberg.
Though there was a roof, I was essentially sleeping in a tent and at night could hear the wind fluttering the sides and the Green Catbirds crying outside. They hide in the trees during the day and come out at night, with calls that literally sound like crying babies. After the first night, I was used the the birds and slept through everything.
When not snorkeling or diving the island offered numerous activities from discovery and environmental walks to fish feeding and reef walks. It’s currently turtle nesting season on the island, so we were lucky to sea some turtles while snorkeling and were given tips on spotting turtles laying eggs after sunset. I’ll be honest after snorkeling all day I was in bed by 8pm. Also during the turtle update, Jenny of the activities team let us know that turtles are pretty much scared of everything on land as they spend the majority of their lives at sea, so I didn’t really want to be sneaking up on them in the night.
Having forgotten to grab my camera the first two days of snorkeling, I took one last excursion on my final day to catch a few pretty fish in action. Unfortunately, it had just stormed so the current was a little rough and apparently I lack the ability to swim and take pictures at the same time. I got a few blurry shots and a nice coral scrape up the side of my leg. But it’s alright, I got to see the Great Barrier Reef and swim with the fish and sharks. Something that doesn’t quite translate in a photo no matter how pretty it looks on the screen or paper.
Three days spent snorkeling, walking LEI, and reading on the beach without any phone or emails was perfect. Most of the time I had stopped reading and simply sat listening to the breeze and ocean while the birds flew overhead. Lady Elliot Island puts you at ease and never makes you feel that your missing out on anything back home. It really takes you back to the simple basics and lets you just breath a little lighter and be present.