From Alison Feagin, Hong Kong
“We recently took the kids to Lady Elliot Island, an island resort on the Great Barrier Reef, and it was one of the best vacations ever! To get there, you need to fly in from the Australian coast. The facilities are very basic (this was also the cheapest vacation we ever took), but you feel like Robinson Crusoe and the underwater aspect is simply incredible. It’s great for children, too, as my six-year-old daughter had no trouble swimming out in the calm waters where the reef drops to twenty feet very quickly. The interesting thing about this island is that you would think it would be dominated by backpacker types and while, yes, there are some backpackers, most visitors are business professionals from Australia. They come to Lady Elliot every year because they think it has the best access on the Great Barrier Reef.”
EDITOR’S NOTE Families seeking an alternative to Lizard Island (which does not allow children under thirteen), but who are ultimately turned off by the mega-resort qualities of Hamilton and Hayman, should consider Lady Elliot Island, the Great Barrier Reef’s most southern island. Its single hotel works with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to protect local eco-systems and wildlife, and mitigates its environmental impact by using low-emission generators and green-friendly technologies.Timid swimmers and mothers will appreciate the island’s gentler lagoon while the more adventurous can choose from an array of water sports, including advanced deep-sea diving. Rooms from $435. (61) 7-5536-3644; www.ladyelliot.com.au.