Yes it’s currently winter in Australia, and while those of you from actual cold places might laugh at the number of people in Brisbane wearing scarves on a 20 degree day, the last thing many of us here would be thinking about is going somewhere not too far from home that involves swimming, in the sea! Brrrrr!
However I did just that, and visited the wonderful Lady Elliot Island right in the middle of winter.
Here are five reasons why I think it is worth a winter reef trip:
1. I noticed there were less seabirds on the island which is a bonus if you are unenthusiastic about getting pooed on, but not so great if you are a bit of a twitcher/enjoy all that good luck courtesy of descending bird faeces. I personally am hoping my next visit will be in summer to experience the full intensity of a seabird breeding island!
2. As the hours of daylight are shorter, it means getting up at a normal time* for sunrise, if that is your thing. Which it totally should be if you are staying on the island and literally just need to throw a jumper on over your pjs and step outside to experience the show!
3. One of the great things about winter in Queensland are the clear crisp skies. Combine this with a lack of light pollution, and Lady Elliot Island is the perfect spot for some star-gazing – just don’t forget your beanie!
4. Probably my favourite thing about winter (and let’s be honest, me and winter do not get on that well) is beautiful crystal clear water in many coastal areas, and trust me if you have never seen a coral reef in 30m+ visibility you don’t know what you are missing! Snorkelling or diving in such clear water on a reef is like being a voyeur into a fish metropolis of coral skyscrapers and sandy highways. Well worth the frostbite and hyperthermia**
5. Oh yeh there’s also the fact the island is particularly attractive to manta rays and humpback whales during winter, but really, they just block the view of the reef 😉
**if you are a total sook like me, I highly recommend taking a long thermal layer (top & leggings) to wear under one of the short wetsuits you can hire on the island. And gloves if you are using an underwear camera- that combo kept me in the water for hours!