I had been meaning to dive Stradbroke Island for a year and a half! finally the opportunity presented itself and I headed over last weekend with Nick K and Marky Mark (Mark S). It was a beautiful sunny day and only 23 minute drive from my place to the Stradbroke ferry terminal in Cleveland. A quick ride over and we were greeted by a Manta Ray Lodge operator and driven to Manta Ray Lodge. The dive crew where very hospitable and we were well looked after. $129 included a return trip on the ferry, pick up and drop off to the terminal, two dives out on the boat with a guide if we wanted….hell I thought that was a bargain!
I didn’t take the twins as logistically that may have been a nuisance for them (I suspected) although we caught up with our mate Ben B. over there who dived side mount, so I shall have to do that next time. First dive was at the FISH BOWL and there was a rip roaring current so I was really glad I wasn’t in twins! I was trying out my new Canon G12 with Patima housing and Sea and Sea YS02 strobe for the first time and having issues with the strobe…so the only thing I really saw was my camera screen while I messed around with settings trying to figure out what was wrong! Yes, if someone was drowning beside me I probably would not have noticed! Sorry Buddy. But I did manage to find and save a dive master’s mask and snorkel that she’d dropped whilst getting back onto the boat.
This trip certainly eliminated any nerves about pissing in the ocean in front of people. As the boat stayed out there, and there was no toilet, unless you wanted to pee in your wetsuit and cook in the sun there was no choice but to pee freely. I didn’t mind too much as the water was really warm, and taking Travelcalm is about the same for your bladder as drinking 3 jugs of beer! and under pressure…let’s just say it was a huge relief! Note to anyone diving here for the first time leave the dry suit at home (laughs). My spring fin strap I bought from Adreno managed to just snap in half and there were no spares on the boat, luckily one of the dive crew helped me make a temporary fix to see me through the next dive.
Second dive we tried to do Manta Ray Bommie as the Manta’s are starting to show (up to four at a time) but unfortunately VIS was about 4m so we headed to Shag Rock. This turned out of be an AMAZING dive! Nick K was magic at finding everything incredible you could imagine and I could hardly keep up with changing photography settings and new subjects! He found a huge Bull Ray about 2.5m x 3m a few other rays, moray eels, baby lion fish including a beautiful black lionfish, puffer fish, cleaner shrimp…not to mention the find of the day by Mark S my first FROG FISH (black) which was incredible! and I have wanted to see one of these for ages! Initially I thought it was sea poo aka sea cucumber I wish I could’ve stayed for longer taking more photos of him but unfortunately I was 7 minutes away from DECO and decided to move up so I could keep the maximum time for the dive. Sigh, if only there was a way to stay down there all day!
We were all buzzing off how great the last dive was and wished we were staying on the island for the weekend. It really is a little slice of paradise over there, and just a stone’s throw away. I had to kick myself for not diving here sooner, and we all agreed we will be returning soon for more great diving, sunshine, frog fish, and ice cream in a tropical paradise. Highly recommend!!