Our first Coral Sea anchorage and longest stay was at East Diamond Islet. Why do they call it Diamond? Because it is a diamond of an anchorage, and the ocean sparkles like nowhere else we have been. We stayed there for 8 days through calm and not so calm conditions. Here is why.
We arrived on 4 th August, Chris’s Birthday, after a 28 hour passage from the continental islands of the Whitsundays. Our first five days were in gentle conditions… less than 15 knots of SE wind, sunny. Three aspects stood out for us as highlights: the brilliant colours of this comfortable anchorage, the clarity of the ocean with over 50m visibility underwater, but more than anything the astoundingly abundant birdlife.
We were taken aback by the stunning, varied birdlife where all different species cohabit, often sharing the same bush for nesting, all mingling peacefully together, roosting, mating, nesting, raising their young. We saw so many different birds at all stages of development! Here is a gallery of our favourites. And the best thing: they did not come and settle on Anui, having far more comfortable nests to go back to on the island. A few checked us out, but no mess to clean up!
With our PredictWind forecasts showing the wind would pick up to over 20 knots for the following 3 or 4 days, we felt this was the best anchorage in the area to weather the stronger conditions. Although the Diamond Islets are made up of 4 individual isles, there is only decent protection in these conditions at East Diamond. So we stayed there although anchoring closer in, knowing we would end up spending an extended time in this idyllic spot in comfort and safety.
There is often a downer in our dream life, and this was the condition of the coral. Believe it or not, even 500 kms from the mainland, the impact of bleaching and storms is inescapable. What was apparently a superb diving and snorkeling site is devastated, and by the looks of it has been so for several years. This was the worst we have ever seen. The bright, clear blue water with 50m+ visibility revealed a mass of lifeless grey walls, devoid of live coral and with depleted fish life. We tried different spots including the outside edge of the reef, to no avail.
Once recovered from the shock, we made the most of what we could enjoy and there was plenty.
We went freediving in clear, deep water for practice and fishing. We did find a few little patches of live corals on the outside wall of the reef, but these were rare in the middle of the desert! Here is a slide show of some of our finds:
Beach walks were fun and you could not help but smile at the other critters we came across: the pale-line crabs hopping amongst the rocks and getting swamped by waves, and the red hermit crabs always wandering around in the best looking shells! You’d see a lovely shell and would pick it up only to discover it was lived in!
Kite surfing at one end of the islet on the windier day was the icing on the cake. Imagine the feeling of doing this in the middle of the Coral Sea! And of course it was made possible by having our travelling companions Amanda and Simon keen to do this too.
We hope you have enjoyed East Diamond Islet. Do join us in a couple days for a trip to Chilcott Islet.