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“An amazing experience of nature...”

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Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
66 reviews
41 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“An amazing experience of nature...”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 25, 2009

Lady Elliot Island is a unique coral cay at the very southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. I decided I wanted to take my two teenage sons to see the reef, and only had time available in January. This is a time of year when the weather in North Queensland is unpredictable and often cyclonic (as hurricanes and typhoons are known locally). It is also staggeringly hot and unpleasant. So I looked for the best coral cay accommodation, as far south as I could get and Lady Elliot Island was the answer. We stayed there for 4 nights. I wanted to stay on a coral cay to avoid the hour long boat trips that are necessary if you want to visit the reef from most Queensland island resorts.

The Island offered exceptional reef for diving and snorkeling (two of us dive). We had six dives, and saw turtles, sharks and manta rays (there are about 40 that live around the island) on almost every dive. Even the snorkelers saw rays, sharks and mantas. Late January is nesting season for the tens of thousands of sea birds that use the Island. It is also nesting season for the hundreds of turtles that use the island (we saw turtles laying eggs, and also hatchings while we were there).

As an experience of a vibrant coral cay ecosystem, it was simply extraordinary and we loved it.

As a resort, it is far from perfect, but is tolerable. The accommodation is -very- basic. It is generally old, and barely maintained. It was generally clean, although there was quite a bit of mould and corrosion. Being nesting season, the entire resort is constantly recovered with guano. The staff clean most seats daily. Although distinctive, the smell is generally not overpowering. The trade winds keep the smell to an ok level. The noise is constant and around the clock. We found it soothing, a little like surf in the background and slept well. The only accommodation with air conditioning are the "suites". These are fibro demountable huts, similar to those found on remote mine sites. At this time of the year there is generally a trade wind, but on still days, it can be extremely humid and uncomfortable. The food is university refectory standard, at best. We found the staff lovely, many were marine biology students.

There is little else to do except dive or snorkel. The resort does make some effort to organise bird, turtle and historical tours during the day. The pool is smaller that most backyard suburban pools and is really only suitable for small children.

The dive shop staff were great. Equipment was generally fairly new and well maintained. Dives were well organised. Almost all dives were at around 18 metres, which surprised us as much of the coral at 12 metres was more interesting. The deeper dives did result in more mantas, however. Dives involve a 3 minute ride in a golf buggy across the island to the boat, gear on, buddy check, then a 3 minute ride out to the edge of the surrounding reef. Extremely convenient diving.

Things you might want to take include a traveler’s peg less clothes line, reef shoes, batteries, Ipods and books for entertainment (there is no bar scene). There are no phones (satellite phone available for outbound calls), newspapers (but they can be ordered), or television.

We thought the Island was simply amazing, but four nights in the resort facilities was about our limit. It would perfectly suit someone who was simply looking for maximum dive time. I did not really do a value comparison against other cay accomodation on the Geat Barrier Reef because of my selection criteria mentioned above.

  • Liked — The Island itself.
  • Disliked — The resort accomodation.
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
6 Thank cunim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
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    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
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Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 22, 2009

I organised a surprise trip for my wife to Lady Elliot Island for our 1st wedding anniversary. I found the reservations staff friendly and well spoken when I booked our 2 night trip back in September 2008. Between then and our arrival I spoke with both the reservations department and the customer relations manager on the island several times, and they were both professional and knowledgeable, offering many suggestions on how I could make our trip more special once we arrived.

Upon arrival at Hervey Bay Airport, we were greeted by an Island representative and swiftly checked in for a 30 minute plane flight to the island. I was lucky enough to be seated next to the pilot for our plane trip and loved it. On arrival into Lady Elliot we were greeted by a staff member who took us on a quick tour around the common areas of the island. The initial smell wasn’t that bad from the birds and you soon get used to it. The staff member showed us to our reef unit, wished us a happy anniversary from all the staff and gave us a complementary bottle of champagne. I was quite impressed. The room was 5 meters from the water, average size, fully refurbished and comfortable. Bathroom was a good size and fully functional. I was thrilled, especially after reading some bad reviews. Our bag was waiting for us in our room.

We spent the next 2 nights/ 3 days snorkelling with turtles, admiring the coral, participating in island tucker tours and a night stalk, releasing baby turtles on the beach and just relaxing and taking in the serenity. It was just awesome.

My wife is a bit of a food snob, so I was a little concerned prior to arrival about the meals. I had nothing to worry about. The buffet dinner was plentiful and good quality. Everything from oysters kilpatrick to beer battered fish and home made apple crumble. The menu changed on both nights.

Breakfast was your standard hotel buffet style, but cooked on the alfresco BBQ. It was good. I recommend buying lunch from the all day café menu. Good prices considering everything is flown in. $9 chicken caesar wrap – could feed 2 people it was that big and $7 nachos. We enjoyed plenty of the $12.50 cocktails from the bar.

I recommend at least 2 nights if not more on the island. Not all tours run everyday. We were lucky to do what we wanted to. You’ll love it and won’t want to leave like we did.

Upon departure we were thrilled to have the same pilot that flew us across. He was a competent and relaxed bloke who asked me if I wanted to sit up front again. The returning flight went via Bundaberg and was excellent.

If you’re after an isolated island, no phones or TV, a relaxing and eco friendly atmosphere then this is the place for you. Don’t go here if you’re expecting room service, day spas, luxury trimmings etc. You’ll just whinge like previous reviewers.

The staff were all friendly and knew their stuff. The resort is being refurbished and is probably of a 3 ½ star standard. All I can say is give it a go, you’ll love it. Cheers.

  • Liked — Refurbished Reef Unit - Comfy new queen sized bed
  • Disliked — No air conditioning
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
4 Thank SamoSydney
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hobart, Australia
Level Contributor
48 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 20, 2008

I stayed at Lady Elliot with my wife over 10 years ago with my wife and learned to dive there. I have been back since with my children and plan on returning again. It is a fantastic place to see birds nesting, turtles and excellent coral without a lot of hassle and time wasted using boats to get to good snorkeling spots. You can watch the sun rising over the reef in the morning while having a cup of tea and snorkel straight from the beach in front of your room.
This is a very special place.
The accommodation is adequate and reflected in the much cheaper price than Heron island or other places. No where have I stayed is the coral easier to see and in such good health.
The food is more than fine with lunch optional.
While I no longer dive (had a lung injury) - Lady Elliot is a paradise for snorkeling. The diving is good but you won't miss much if you just snorkel. Take your family and show them the wonders of the reef before global warming changes that.

I have read a few bad reviews on here of the place - these people should go to the gold coast as they really have no appreciation for nature. Fancy complaining about having birds nesting on the island! It is a privilege to share the island with the 500,000 birds at the height of the breeding season.
They are everywhere - and you need to watch where you stand - see my photos.
The staff have a fair turnover as you would expect but they were pleasant and helpful. They were excellent at encouraging one of my nervous children to enjoy snorkeling in some deeper water. A few of the staff had marine biology backgrounds which was a great help. I learn something new each time I stay. We went for a night snorkel last time and it was amazing.
I think Lady Elliot could use some maintenance on the accommodation but it is still a great place to visit.
My kids love it. I recommend it to all and will be back again soon.

  • Liked — Close to the reef
  • Disliked — Getting a little tired - needs some updating.
  • Stayed November 2007, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2 Thank Hobartfamily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
229 reviews
149 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 26, 2008

I spent a lot of time researching the best island for snorkelling for my husband to spend a couple of days totally relaxing and enjoying nature. I considered location, climate, facilities and price but most of all wanted somewhere where we stood a chance of seeing whales, which is why we were travelling in September just before Oz school holidays. I always read reviews first and was quite happy with my choice until, a couple of months before we were due to go, I read 'AVOID THE PLACE' on June 9th 2008. I was seriously considering changing as I knew it wasn't cheap. I'm now so glad I didn't.
We have been to Dunk, Heron (in nesting season) & Orpheus Islands before and loved each one but they alll have their own different qualities.
I think the first thing people should consider when chosing Lady Elliot is that is is NOT billed as a luxury resort (Orpheus is), but the emphasis is on nature and the environment. The price is high due to the location and the fact that we need to access it by plane. It should not be forgotten that location obviously plays a part in the availabilty of supplies including food. They have very limited deliveries.
I am lucky that when we were there it wasn't full or peak season or nesting season as I know from our Heron experience how noisy and smelly that can be.
I think it is best to cover a few of the issues from the previous damning report first.
We found the staff to be extremely friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and courteous. Yes, they ate and drank at the same time as the guests but it wouldn't be practical any other way. The resort is very small and facilities limited. We didn't find it a problem at all. In fact a chef took my husband and another guest snorkelling and really made the trip as he knew the best spots and they were lucky enough to hear whales underwater, which was a very special moment.
I didn't see a Putt Putt course and didn't look closely at the pool area but could see that it was small. Very few people used it. Most people go there for the ocean not the pool.
I think the whole place had been made over to a degree. The paths were shingle type/ broken coral and not untidy. They were not well lit and didn't do my shoes much good. Take flat, oldish shoes to overcome the problem! Also as the beach is essentially broken shells and coral nowhere is comfortable to walk without getting bits in your shoes. Do not expect soft white sand to trickle through your fingers! It is a natural coral cay and not a tropical sandy desert island.
We had an Island Suite. We had booked a one bedroom as there were just the two of us but in fact we had a two bedroomed one so had loads of room. Even so we had plenty of hanging space and drawers in the one bedroom, and only used the spare room to keep the case out of the way. You are limited to 10kg of luggage each so shouldn't need a walk in wardrobe! We looked out directly to the ocean and had red tailed tropic birds nesting in the bush immediately outside our door. The floors were mostly carpeted and the walls looked like they had been recently decorated. The furnishings looked quite new also and we found the bed to be very comfortable. There was a ceiling fan in each bedroom but it was nice to have fresh air from open windows as there were no biting bugs when we were there. There are no locks on the doors which initially concerned me. The doors could be locked from the inside. We left our passports etc at reception for safe keeping and there really wasn't anything to worry about. In fact it was very liberating to walk around without a bagfull of stuff! The melamine kitchen and bathroom cupboards were a bit tatty but we spent very little time in our suite so it wasn't an issue to us. As I said before - do not expect luxury. We did not have a problem with the cleaning. The bathroom is really showing its age but again it was essentially clean and functional. When you're constantly treading in the beach it doesn't really matter that the tiles are old. We had a view of the ocean from there also. We had a maintenance problem in that we had a dripping tap and no hot water. The tap ws eventually fixed but the water was fixed immediately and as an apology they gave us a free sunset platter which we shared with another couple watching the sunset on our last evening. We even saw a shark cruising around in the shallows then so that was special too.
The food was indeed buffet style and everyone was keen to eat as soon as it started and some plates were emptied very quickly. We found them to be replaced adequately but the resort was not full so that should be considered. It wasn't 5 star but it was perfectly edible, tasty and adequate. The beer battered barramundi was superb. The lunch time wraps and toasties were particulary good. We travel extensively in Oz, US & Canada in hotels from Best Westerns to Westins, and we are used to baked beans in a bain-marie. In fact we stopped off at Le Meridien Dubai on our return journey - and there they were again! I though that was normal 'western' cooked breakfast fare.
We flew from Hervey Bay and enjoyed the flight in a Cessna Caravan. We saw whales on the return journey which went via Bundaberg and I nearly got off in the wrong place! It is so relaxing to travel without the general airport hassle these days.
When you check in on the island they give you the option of a charge card which you hand over for any purchases and then settle up at the end. We found this to work very well and were pleasantly surprised at the prices which we expected to be higher as they have a captive audience.
Thay have many organised options to fill the days and while I am not a water or a sunbathing person I was surprised at how much I could find to do and not get too bored while my husband was snorkelling. We both took the included glass bottomed boat trip and had the bonus of seeing whales that day. The best whale day was when we were sitting looking out to sea at breakfast and there they were - and not very far out. So when you read the website and it says that you may see them from your lounge window - it would not be impossible!
The real bonus with Lady Elliot is the clarity of the water which is evidently due to the colder currents coming from the south. It supposedly has the best visibility being one of the most southerly islands and certainly we found that to be true. The snorkelling is right at the waters edge and while there are strong currents it is a good family location as there is a protected lagoon also.
We would have no hesitation in returning and found everything to be very relaxing. I should also mention that we did have superb weather which has a bearing.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Walking on broken coral
  • Stayed September 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
9 Thank Pearl65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 4, 2008

Literally, I read “Absolute dump - Avoid At All Costs” the night before we were supposed to arrive at Lady Elliott and it scared me to death. I was traveling with my family and though we are not "high maintenance", it was worrisome.
I will not respond to his comments but our experience was completely different. The resort is undergoing a renovation as it has changed management in the last couple of years and it apparently did get pretty run down. Though it is not a luxury resort, it was a wonderful experience with some of the best diving I have ever done and it's right off the beach.
The staff was great, warm and friendly. The kids (8, 6, and 4) had a great time and we were comfortable with them just running around on their own. This is not a place to go for great cuisine, pampering or spa-like atmosphere but if you want a terrific diving/snorkeling location with a laid back friendly atmosphere, you won't regret it. We will be going back as it was a great way to experience the Great Barrier Reef.
Here is a link to some pictures I took over the 4 days. The underwater shots were taken by Adam Thompson, one of the dive guides.

  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1 Thank AmericaninlandofOz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 8, 2008

Last Christmas, my wife, daughter and I stayed at Lady Elliot Island Resort. I was what I can only describe as a ‘holiday from hell’.

The glossy brochures and beautifully presented website in no way prepared us for the reality of overall shabbiness, general neglect, filth and unbelievable stench with which we were presented upon our arrival.

When these physical factors were combined with the untrained, incompetent, unprofessional behavior and out-and-out rudeness practiced by many of the staff the whole experience became too dreadful to bear and we chose to cut short our planned 7 day stay after 4 days.

The ‘resort’ is tired, shabby and poorly maintained. It is desperately in need of an injection of capital and we find it astonishing how the resort can justify charging the money they did for the most basic of facilities that are provided.
• Everywhere you look you are presented with peeling paint, rusty fencing, mould and mildew
• The swimming pool is dirty, murky and smaller than a back-yard pool
• The paths were littered with debris, fallen branches and on occasions after a windy night many dead birds, they were uneven and unswept, with large potholes.
• The landscaping was dead or dying from neglect
• The recreation facilities were damaged or at best shabby – look at the putt-putt course for an example of the facilities provided
• The stench caused by the birds was so bad it made your eyes water. We were aware, from the website, that it was nesting season, but at no point were the real repercussions of this fact made clear ie. that the ‘resort’ and indeed the entire island was literally covered with birds. With 30 or more nests in every tree, birds in the bushes, under the stairs, behind chunks of coral, dead and damaged baby birds in the ‘gardens’ and of course bird droppings covering almost every surface, with the resultant all-pervasive smell, nesting season is indeed overwhelming.

‘Suite’ is a generous term for the 2.5m x 4m fibro room reservation staff recommended for a family. Fortunately the 4th bed was vacant as we were only 3, and so served as a luggage rack, because there was no room elsewhere to store our small cases or dive gear.
• The floors were sticky, un-swept and unwashed, with years of accumulated grit in the gaps in the floorboards. Housekeeping staff gave less than cursory attention to cleaning.
• The furniture was damaged with broken and peeling melamine, cupboard doors which would not close, and a shower which flooded the bathroom floor each time it was used.
• Ants infested our bed and cockroaches roamed the walls.
• The sliding doors were so old and caked with dirt, sand and salt that we were unable to close them properly to keep out wind or rain.
• We found bird faeces covering the verandah, steps, outdoor furniture and windows of our ‘bungalow’ daily, and on occasions had to wash off regurgitated fish which covered the steps up to our room left by one of the thousands upon thousands of birds.

The food provided was of a very poor standard.
• The system adopted with the buffet where certain items were not replenished and therefore disappeared very quickly engendered a rush-mentality from patrons who wanted to sample the full selection available. Those patrons who did not wish to eat early or stand in queues tended to miss out on the better of what was available.
• Generally the standard of food was worse than the boarding school fare my wife had endured as a teenager. I don’t believe I have ever seen a bain-marie container filled with tinned baked beans presented as breakfast fare.
• You would expect tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and the like to be available in abundance during a Queensland summer – tinned peaches and orange segments are a poor substitute.

We found the staff in general to be surly, rude and unprofessional (with the exception of Sandy in the bar). Your supposed “Seastar” Service mantra was not in evidence.
• Many appeared untrained or inexperienced in customer service. Overall it appeared that each area was grossly understaffed during what would have to be the busiest period of the year.
• We were not treated with the everyday politeness or respect with which we endeavour to treat every person with whom we come in contact.
• As an example: after being issued a wetsuit which had the bum torn out of it my wife quietly requested another. The staff member made offensive and disparaging remarks suggesting she was expecting brand new gear – although at the time there was a rack full of undamaged suits from which he could have chosen.
• Staff members in reception were rude to both my wife and daughter on separate occasions when making simple requests for phone cards or other matters.
• Staff were difficult to identify as uniforms appeared to be optional.
• Staff used the patrons’ dining and bar facilities and paying patrons queued behind staff to obtain food or drinks.

We chose Lady Elliot Island so we could dive. Our 15 year old daughter had never been to the Great Barrier Reef and we were excited to show her how wonderful it was.

We found the Dive Centre staff (with the exception of Kym) to be rude, unhelpful, condescending and self-absorbed. In particular we found the Water Sports Manager a rude, arrogant, foul-mouthed man who seemed to care about no-one but himself. The paying customers’ needs and desires seemed to be absolutely secondary to those of the dive staff.
• We are accredited divers; however we are ‘holiday divers’ so had not dived recently. It took lengthy negotiations with unhelpful staff to schedule a refresher dive.
• The refresher dive was rushed and, as it turned out, supervised inadequately, as when we arrived ready to go on our first holiday dive my wife was rejected by the Water Sports Manager with whom we had booked our dive the evening before. When questioned why she was not informed beforehand, he lied, saying he tried to locate us to let us know – the whole incident was handled extremely poorly.
• Afternoon dives were meant to be shallower dives which we thought more suitable for our 15 year old – the Water Sports Manager regularly scheduled deep dives for this time slot.
• No dives were scheduled for Christmas Day – the island is a diving destination – dives should have been available no matter what the day.
• A 1 hour snorkeling tour was finished after only 40 minutes – we discovered later that the staff member who led the tour was due to leave the Island employment the following day – it seems she just couldn’t be bothered, an attitude that was typical throughout the staff.

When researching Lady Elliot Island we noted the fees and charges to be comparable to that of Heron Island and a 4 ½ star resort in Fiji where we stayed in December 2006. Accordingly we had certain expectations, tempered (reasonably we thought) by what we saw on Lady Elliot Island Resort’s website and read in brochures and reviews.
• 12 months ago we paid $308 per person per day in Fiji including daily dives, gourmet a’la carte food, alcohol, shopping and other water sports.
• Compare this to Lady Elliot Island where we paid $368 per person per day including dives - $60 per person per day more than a 4 ½ star resort.
• There is no comparison between the two venues. Castaway Island Resort in Fiji was luxurious, sparkling clean, with fabulous food and wonderful, helpful, friendly staff who delighted in making their guests’ stay as pleasant as possible.
• Lady Elliot Island was simply awful. The staff were rude, the accommodation less than basic, the facilities non-existent. I am embarrassed to think what International guests visiting Lady Elliot Island think of Australian hospitality.

In summary, we felt enormous dissatisfaction. Normal people need to save very hard all year to afford the large amount of money we paid for the supposed pleasure of staying at Lady Elliot. We believe we have been misled by clever advertising with its strategic omissions and outright untruths. The ‘Reef Heaven’ that you promise is a lie. We feel we have been ripped-off and are totally discontented with the experience we received while guests at this dubious resort.


Stayed December 2007
74 Thank KKate1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, GA
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 7, 2008

Lady Elliot Island Resort is a great place to stay to experience the Great Barrier Reef. The flight in is absolutely stunning, and the accomodations were clean (aside from ants - but that is to be expected if you bring food with you). We were in nice tent-cabins with wooden flooring, and the bathrooms outside were clean. The food available was also very good and reliable.

There are plenty of activities available from reef walking (shoes and instructions for what animals to be cautious of are included) to snorkeling to scuba diving for all levels. There is also a playground on the island for kids, laundry service, a bar and snack shop for food during the day, and a small convenience store. The island emphasizes ecofriendly practices and is a very peaceful place to stay. I would return in a minute!

  • Liked — Location and Activities
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Stayed May 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2 Thank Peak_Bagger_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort

Property: Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort
Address: Lady Elliot Island, Queensland 4216, Australia
Phone Number:
Location: Australia > Queensland > Lady Elliot Island
Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Lady Elliot Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 41
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Lady Elliot is a true coral cay island located at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, north of Fraser Island. The island is regarded as one of the best snorkeling and diving destinations on the Great Barrier Reef and is famous for its unspoilt coral reef and amazing array of spectacular marine life including turtles and manta rays. Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort provides a range of low key accommodation options ranging from 2BR Island Suites to Eco Cabins for those on a budget. The overnight rate includes: Full buffet breakfast and dinner daily; One free glass bottom boat/guided snorkel tour per person; Free use of snorkel equipment (mask, snorkel, fins); Range of free guided Island activities/tours; and Environmental Management Charge. Scenic flights depart daily from Bundaberg, Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast, Brisbane (Redcliffe) and Coolangatta. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
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