Hervey Bay is a pleasant town tho’ not exactly lively and packed with interest, but it sports a decent beach mostly free of marine nasties and a good selection of places to stay, most of them still unlisted in popular travel guides so don’t panic about finding accommodation.
If you have no transport, try to find a home not too far from the Esplanade intersection with Main St. or you’re looking at a lot of walking to find food, drink or entertainment.
Hervey’s long and sandy Pialba beach is just south of the Great Barrier Reef and so usually free of toxic jellies that prevent sea swimming further north, while the shady esplanade provides an attractive fringe, but the town centre is still young and lacks a hard core or the buzz that Cairns and Airlie Beach thrive on.
Lady Elliot Island seen from the main way in, by plane.
Lady Elliot Island
The southernmost section of the Great Barrier Reef, this tiny coral cay, a 90km (65miles) light-plane flight from Hervey Bay, is a cheerful little eco-resort, home to many tens of thousands of birds, particularly the white-capped noddy, but also at night amazing acapellas can be heard from the wailing, moaning, groaning wedge-tail shearwaters.
Turtles lay eggs which hatch at night on Lady Elliot’s beaches, from November-March, though they don’t exactly swarm and can be difficult to find.
Lady Elliot Island and a few of the 60, 000 white-capped noddies.
Lady Elliot Island. Underwater photography by Earth Catlin Seaview Survey.
Diving and snorkelling here at the end of the GB reef is good if conditions are calm, otherwise visibility goes down the pan. And since the island is very small and very exposed, conditions are rarely calm.
There is a neat but newish little wreck, some good coral bommies and plenty of small sharks, manta and sting rays, turtles, maori wrasse etc. but not much in the way of colourful coral.
In truth LEI is a much better place for bird-watching twitchers than for coral-watching divers.