A trip to Lady Musgrave Island is expensive, even if you stick to snorkelling and visiting the island. So is scuba diving Lady Musgrave Island worth the extra spending? Not necessarily for everyone, but we loved it. Read more about our experience to find out why.

Coral underwater with the Lady Musgrave Experience boat on top of it
Boat from Bundaberg – Lady Musgrave Experience

For many years, I believed a trip to Lady Musgrave Island wasn’t worth the cost and effort. We saved our travel budget to stay on Lady Elliot Island or Heron Island instead. These two islands are the best to experience the Southern Great Barrier Reef for a few days.

A few times when we visited Bundaberg, Hervey Bay or 1770, we were so close to Lady Musgrave that I tried to organise a trip. But it was either full or the weather stopped us from going. As fellow scuba diver friends recommended it, I tried again and finally got to go to Lady Musgrave Island late in 2020.

A pod of dolphins welcomed us, jumping out of the water next to the boat. Birds – including boobies that I find very special – were busy fishing. We were already having a good day before even reaching the lagoon.

A green turtle swimming on the reef near Lady Musgrave Island.
Green turtle spotted while scuba diving Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)

Is scuba diving Lady Musgrave Island better than other destinations on the Great Barrier Reef?

There’s no straight answer to this question. It depends on a few things like the time you have to visit Queensland and Australia, and your level of experience, for example. Read below a few reasons why I believe you should go scuba diving on Lady Musgrave Island and a few tips to organise your trip.

Why you should go scuba diving on Lady Musgrave Island

Coral reef on Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)
Coral reef on Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)

Lady Musgrave Island can be done as a day trip from the mainland.

It is ideal if your time to visit the Southern Great Barrier Reef is limited.

Although they organise day trips to Lady Elliot Island, you have to catch a plane to get there. For a day trip, diving is no longer an option as you cannot fly after scuba diving.

You don’t need to fly to scuba dive Lady Musgrave Island.

It’s a long drive from Brisbane to Bundaberg, but it’s doable. A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is always expensive, and Lady Musgrave is not an exception. But not having to fly keeps costs low compared to many other places to dive the Great Barrier Reef.

Responsible travel tip: Coral reef ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change, so it makes sense to make efforts to reduce our negative impacts when visiting the reef. If you choose to drive or catch a boat instead of flying, you will reduce your travel emissions. Make sure you follow low-impact driving techniques. Whether you fly or drive, you can also choose to calculate and offset your emissions.

Coral reef on Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)
Coral reef on Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)

You will visit the Reef with a reputed operator.

Luckily, there are many fantastic and passionate operators going out to the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority makes sure operators are aware of the rules to follow to protect the Reef. I wish it was the same for all the coral reefs in the world.

Scuba diver on top of corals on the Great Barrier Reef (Lady Musgrave outer reef)
Scuba diving Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)

Lady Musgrave Experience is one of their high standard tourism operators. As far as I know, they are the only ones offering scuba diving on Lady Musgrave Island on a regular basis. As you’re on the boat heading to the Reef, you will get a chance to learn more about the biodiversity and complexity of the Great Barrier Reef. These educational talks always include tips to protect the reef during your visit. It makes the experience better for everyone.

Responsible travel tip: Did you know that your sunscreen could harm the fragile ecosystem of the coral reef? It’s essential to be mindful of what you’re applying to your skin when snorkelling or swimming near the reef. The best way to protect your skin from the sun is to cover up with long sleeves and pants. If you must use sunscreen, choose a mineral-based one to avoid harmful substances (see the full list here). Mineral ingredients are less harmful to the environment and provide excellent protection. Apply the sunscreen at least 20 minutes before entering the water to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Lady Musgrave Island has some fantastic reefs.

When you book a diving trip to Lady Musgrave Island, they never guarantee to take you to the Outer Reef. But if you’re lucky to go to one of their best dive sites (there are 14 of them), you will be in awe.

We dived a wall that was probably the most beautiful wall I’ve seen on the Great Barrier Reef. It was made of stunning plate corals growing on top of each other’s looking like steps.

Small fish on top of a coral reef on Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)
Scuba diving Lady Musgrave Island (outer reef)

Tips to prepare your diving trip to Lady Musgrave Island

Build up your scuba diving experience and have your advanced certification to dive the Outer Reef.

Beginners can dive at Lady Musgrave Island. However, it is likely that Lady Musgrave Experience will not take them out of the lagoon as dives on the Outer Reef are often more complex.

There’s nothing wrong with the lagoon at Lady Musgrave Island. We had fun snorkelling there. It’s fantastic for beginners as it is well protected. But I’ve heard many times that it’s not worth scuba diving Lady Musgrave lagoon as snorkelling is as good.

A snorkeller at the surface on top of the reef in the lagoon of Lady Musgrave Island.
Snorkelling in the lagoon of Lady Musgrave Island

For scuba diving, Lady Musgrave Island Outer Reef is a lot more impressive.

We hadn’t dived for a few months before going to Lady Musgrave Island. We didn’t want it to be a problem to dive the Outer Reef, so we did a few shore dives at Barolin Rocks near Bundaberg prior to going to Lady Musgrave Island. We really liked this shore dive site!

If you can go with a few friends, you’ll have higher chances of diving the Outer Reef.

A white tip shark swimming on Lady Musgrave Island outer reef
White tip shark at Lady Musgrave Island

They won’t make the trip to the Outer Reef if there are less than four divers interested. So if you want to secure your chance to dive the Outer Reef when visiting Lady Musgrave Island, you should go there with a couple of friends!

When you come back from the Outer Reef, be ready to jump back in the water once you reach the main boat.

A big vessel will take you from Bundaberg to Lady Musgrave Island lagoon. Then, if you’re lucky to go diving on the Outer Reef, a smaller dive boat will take you there. When you come back to the big vessel, it might not be the end of your trip just yet. If you’re back early enough, you may still have time for a short snorkelling session. Make sure you ask the crew and be ready to jump back in!

Have you dived Lady Musgrave Island? Share your experience in the comments below!

Where is Lady Musgrave Island?

Lady Musgrave Island is an island on the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, just north of Lady Elliot Island. The closest town on the continent is 1770 and it takes 1.5hrs to get to the island’s lagoon. Bundaberg is a bit further away; you’ll have to spend about 2.5hrs on the boat. It is feasible to organise this trip as a scuba diving weekend away from Brisbane.

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Eloise is the creator and writer of MyFavouriteEscapes.com. She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Thiago

    Hi! Nice post! But you really need to be an advanced scuba diver?

    I haven’t being in the water for at least 3 years (super sad) and our certification is lvl 1. If they require a recent diving I can provide it easily but doing an advanced course.. .well it will take longer and I might not have that time.


    1. [email protected]

      Thanks, Thiago. You don’t have to be an advanced scuba diver to dive Lady Musgrave. But we were told you’ve got fewer chances to go to the Outer Reef if you are not experienced. RIn my opinion, if you have dived recently (it’s a must), it’s worth booking the Outer Reef trip hoping to have the right conditions that day. If the conditions are not good on the Outer Reef for your level of experience, they’ll offer you to dive the lagoon. Scuba diving in the Lady Musgrave lagoon is fun, but you don’t see a lot more than snorkelling.

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