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Things You Need To Know Before You Go Snorkelling at Low Isles

admin on January 22nd, 2024

Located just a stone's throw away from Port Douglas, the Low Isles are a snorkeller's paradise, enticing you to explore the vibrant underwater world around these islands that are teeming with marine life. Situated 15km north-east of Port Douglas, Low Isles is a 4-acre coral cay surrounded by 55 acres of reef. The corals are very close to the island, which makes snorkelling an enjoyable experience. These idyllic islets offer an array of snorkelling tours tailored to suit your travel schedules, preferences, and availability. Low Isles has something to offer everyone from young to old and the easy access into the coral gardens from the beach enables everyone to feel safe.

Will We See Turtles at the Low Isles?

If you love turtles, then this is the snorkelling tour you need to book when staying in Port Douglas. Woody Island and Low Isle are home to two species of sea turtles the Green Sea turtle and the Hawksbill turtle.

When snorkelling around just remember to gently swim with your flippers on and don’t do too much slapping around as you will scare off not only the turtles but all the marine life around the island!

Read our Travel Tips & Hints on snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef. 

Low Isles are Home to Dugongs

The inlet between Woody Island and Low Isles are seagrass beds and this is an ideal environment for dugongs along with the turtles so be sure to keep your eyes open for these mammals that are called elephants of the sea as it would be a real treat to meet one of these whilst snorkelling.

These gentle giants are known to frequent the vicinity of seagrass beds, where they can often be observed peacefully grazing on this vital marine plant.

As air-breathing mammals, dugongs follow a unique pattern of behaviour. They gracefully surface approximately every six minutes to replenish their oxygen supply before gracefully descending into the depths once more. It's a mesmerizing sight to witness these majestic creatures emerge, drawing a quick breath, and then gracefully vanishing beneath the azure waters.

Dugongs are no small fry when it comes to size, reaching an impressive 2.6 meters in length and weighing up to 300 kilograms. Despite their imposing stature, it's important to note that these marine mammals are completely harmless to humans. So, if you happen upon a dugong while snorkelling, consider yourself lucky to witness such a magnificent and gentle giant in its natural habitat.

What Fish Will You See Around Low Isles?

Its more of a question of what fish will you not see around Low Isles but here are just a few we will mention for your interest. Living amongst the corals is a large variety of fish, molluscs, sea cucumbers and other animals. Colourful blue, green and purple parrotfish are a common sight as well as angelfish, damselfish, anemonefish or clownfish, trevally, rabbitfish, sweetlips, moon wrasse and fusiliers. Go on a guided snorkelling tour or a glass bottom boat tour and your marine guide will introduce you to lots more varieties.

Giant Clams – One of the Great Eight of the Barrier Reef

When you embark on a snorkelling adventure at Low Isles, you're in for a remarkable treat – the awe-inspiring giant clams. These remarkable creatures, found in various sizes, are true giants of the mollusc world, with some reaching an astonishing 120 cm in diameter and weighing up to 200 kilograms! Their exteriors are characterized by sturdy, bony shells, and you can often spot them resting on the seabed or nestled within the crevices and recesses of the coral reefs. What makes giant clams truly captivating for visitors are their vibrant and inviting fleshy lips, easily visible to anyone who encounters them.

Giant clams are a riot of colours, showcasing striking hues of purples, blues, greens, and golds. Remarkably, much like the corals that surround them, the vibrant colours within giant clams are largely attributed to their symbiotic relationship with algae. This intricate partnership between the clam and the algae contributes to the spectacular display of colours that add to the enchantment of the underwater world at Low Isles.

Read more about the Great Eight of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Funny Clownfish of Low Isles

Low Isles is home to an enchanting cast of marine characters, and among the most iconic and endearing are the clownfish. These delightful fish, made famous by their animated counterparts in the movie "Finding Nemo," add a touch of whimsy to the coral gardens of Low Isles. With their vibrant colours and playful personalities, clownfish are a delight to observe as they dart in and out of the protective tentacles of sea anemones. These resilient little fish have formed a remarkable symbiotic relationship with the anemones, finding safety among their stinging tentacles while providing the anemones with food in return. As you snorkel through the crystal-clear waters of Low Isles, keep an eye out for these charming underwater performers, adding a splash of colour and personality to your aquatic adventure. Their real biological names are Amphiprion ocellaris and there are over 30 species been recognized around the world.  

Whales at Low Isles

The presence of whales near Low Isles can depend on the time of year and their migratory patterns. The most common time to spot whales in the area is during the annual humpback whale migration, which typically occurs from June to September. During this period, humpback whales migrate along the east coast of Australia, including the waters near the Great Barrier Reef.

If your visit to Low Isles falls within this migration window, there is a good chance that you may have the opportunity to spot humpback whales as they pass through the region on their way to the safe calving grounds of the Agincourt Ribbon reefs. They will stay here for a while as their calves consume the high fat content in the mother’s milk and build up strength before the big journey south to Antarctica for the summer ice melts and the krill season.  

Dwarf Minke Whales also make an annual migration past low Isles on the way to the Ribbon Reefs and particularly Ribbon Reef number 10 for some reason. This is the only place in the world where you can join a liveaboard dive and snorkel tour to swim with these inquisitive little Minke Whales. This is one animal interaction you should not miss out on so take a look at these liveaboard dive tours specifically curated for the swim with Minke Whales research. If your game you could even go diving with sharks.

Low Isles Snorkelling Tours

Your options to get to Low Isles could be on a sailboat, private charter yacht or a high-speed catamaran and the time it takes can vary between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

With options for full-day, half-day, afternoon snorkelling tours, and even adult-only sunset cruises, this pristine marine wonderland awaits your arrival.

How to Discover Low Isles Up Close:

Full-Day Tour: Immerse yourself in the wonders of Low Isles on a full-day snorkelling adventure. Spend an entire day snorkelling amidst the captivating coral gardens, encountering a diverse array of fish, and basking in the breathtaking beauty of the reef.
Half-Day Tour: Short on time but eager to experience Low Isles? Opt for a half-day tour that allows you to explore the marine marvels while accommodating your busy schedule.
Afternoon Snorkelling Tour: Enjoy the magic of Low Isles in the afternoon light with a dedicated afternoon snorkelling tour. Witness the transformation of the underwater world as the sun dips beneath the horizon.

Adults-Only Sunset Sail: For those seeking a romantic and tranquil escape, the adults-only afternoon snorkelling tour and sunset sail home is the epitome of luxury. After enjoying 3 hours snorkelling and riding around in a glass bottom boat it’s time to set sail for Port Douglas. Sit up on deck with a beverage in hand and watch the skies change colours as the sun sets down behind the Daintree Rainforest and the ocean changes its colours in unison with what is happening in the sky.

Is It Worthwhile Visiting the Low Isles?

Low Isles boasts over 150 types of both hard and soft coral species, offering a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes beneath the sea. The coral formations provide a natural sanctuary for an abundant variety of fish, making every snorkelling excursion a captivating encounter with marine life.

The Low Isles are conveniently located just across the sea from Port Douglas, and the travel time is refreshingly short, allowing you to maximize your time in the water. With its proximity, you can swiftly embark on your snorkelling adventure and return to the comforts of Port Douglas in no time.

Prepare to be enthralled by the sheer beauty and biodiversity of the Low Isles as you embark on one of the various snorkelling tours available. Whether you're a marine enthusiast or simply yearning for a serene escape, the Low Isles promise an unforgettable underwater experience that will leave you in awe of nature's wonders.

A Window into the History on the Low Isles

Discovering the Enchanting Low Isles: A Journey Through Time and Nature

Nestled in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Low Isles are more than just a picturesque destination; they are a marvel of natural history and ecological wonder. This blog post will take you on a journey through the formation, history, and splendour of the Low Isles, where the ocean's rhythm tells tales of the past and beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

The Creation of an Underwater Eden

The story of the Low Isles begins about 7000 years ago, a testament to the ever-changing landscape of our planet. As the last Ice Age ended, melting glaciers caused sea levels to rise, leading to the formation of these coral cays. These islands are essentially the visible parts of large coral reefs that have grown over centuries. The Low Isles comprise two main islands: Woody Island, an uninhabited mangrove island, and Low Isle, a sandy coral cay.

A Duo of Islands: Woody Island and Low Isle

Woody Island: The Unseen Guardian

Woody Island, the larger of the two, is a dense mangrove island that plays a crucial role in the marine ecosystem. Its roots offer protection and breeding grounds for marine life, acting as a vital nursery for the Great Barrier Reef. Though it's not typically visited by tourists, its presence is essential for the health of the surrounding waters.

Low Isle: A Coral Cay Paradise

Low Isle, in contrast, is a small, sandy island surrounded by stunning coral reefs. This island is the primary destination for visitors, boasting pristine beaches and an idyllic setting for snorkelling, swimming, and basking in nature's beauty.

The Lighthouse and Scientific Research

The Low Isles hold historical significance, with the Low Isles Lighthouse serving as a beacon since 1878. This lighthouse has guided countless mariners through the treacherous corals of the Great Barrier Reef and stands as a symbol of the region's maritime history.

In the 1920s, the Low Isles were the site of the first detailed scientific study of a coral reef ecosystem. This groundbreaking research by Dr. C.M. Yonge laid the foundation for modern coral reef science and highlighted the importance of the Great Barrier Reef as a biodiversity hotspot.

The Low Isles Today: A Conservation Effort

Today, the Low Isles are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, reflecting a commitment to preserving this unique environment. The islands are a microcosm of the larger reef, showcasing the delicate balance of coral ecosystems and the need for sustainable tourism practices.

A Sanctuary for Marine Life

The waters around the Low Isles are a haven for an array of marine life, including sea turtles, dugong tropical fish, and various coral species. The clear, shallow waters make it an ideal spot for snorkelling and witnessing the vibrant underwater world.

Responsible Tourism: A Key to Preservation

Tourism to the Low Isles is carefully managed to ensure minimal impact on the environment. Visitors are encouraged to engage in eco-friendly practices, respecting the natural habitat of the marine and bird life that call these islands home.

Final Thoughts

The Low Isles are not just a destination; they are a living, breathing testament to the beauty and fragility of our natural world. As you walk along the sandy shores or dive into the azure waters, remember that you are stepping into a story that spans thousands of years, a story that continues to unfold with each wave and each grain of sand.

As we journey through these islands, we are reminded of the timeless dance between land and sea, and the responsibility we hold as stewards of these extraordinary treasures. The Low Isles beckon us to explore, to learn, and to cherish the wonders of our planet.

Formation of the Low Isles: The Low Isles were formed about 7000 years ago, which aligns with the general timeline for the formation of many coral cays around the world following the last Ice Age. This is a typical process where rising sea levels lead to the formation of these islands.
Composition of the Low Isles: The description of the Low Isles comprising Woody Island and Low Isle is accurate. Woody Island is a mangrove island, and Low Isle is a coral cay. This is a common composition for such island groups in coral reef ecosystems.
Historical Significance of the Low Isles: The Low Isles Lighthouse and its role since 1878 is a matter of historical record. The islands' use for scientific research in the 1920s, particularly for coral reef studies, is also well-documented.
Conservation Status: The Low Isles are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is a protected area. This information is consistent with the conservation efforts for many parts of the Great Barrier Reef.
Marine Life and Eco-Tourism: The descriptions of marine life (like sea turtles and tropical fish) and the emphasis on eco-friendly tourism practices align with general knowledge about coral cay environments and sustainable tourism guidelines.

 

Embracing the Low Isles Experience

A visit to the Low Isles is more than just a beach holiday; it's an immersive experience in understanding and appreciating the delicate complexity of coral ecosystems. It's a chance to disconnect from the hustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature in its purest form.

How to Visit

The Low Isles are easily accessible via a short boat ride from Port Douglas. Options range from half-day to full-day tours, offering activities like snorkelling, glass-bottom boat tours, and island walks.

Read about the things to do and things to see at Low Isles along with is Low Isles worth a visit.

 

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