East Diamond Islet

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.

Both Anui and Windsong anchored a long way out initially
East Diamond Islet looking southeast
The anchorage looking west
The lighthouse, a comforting light at night
A lost dory – there is a story there
How is this for underwater clarity?

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!

  • Red-footed boobies mating
  • Common Noddy fishing
  • Red-footed Booby on nest
  • Masked Boobies
  • Masked Booby and chick
  • Red-tailed Tropicbird Mum and Chick
  • Booby Chick
  • Male Greater Frigatebird displaying
  • Male Frigatebird during courtship display

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:

  • Saddle Butterflyfish
  • Whitetip Shark
  • Humpnose Unicornfish
  • Steephead Parrotfish
  • Various Surgeonfish and Sergeants
  • Reticulate Butterflyfish

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!

Pale-lined Rock Crab about to get swamped
These rock crabs can hop!
Red Hermit Crab on the move
This Hermit Crab is hiding!

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.

26 thoughts on “East Diamond Islet

      • By the way, Thanks for your posts on predict wind while you were in the coral sea. That was a great tool to see where you were day to day, and hear a lot about what you were finding out in the wilderness.

      • Hi again Murray. Yes PredictWind was an invaluable tool for us for forecasts and passage planning, and it was good to be able to give sign of life to all those interested.

  1. The water clarity is very amazing, wow! The coral looks very sad, I sure hope that it comes back to life in the future.

    • The extremes were really striking, John, such clarity but onto barren walls. We wonder about the possibility of recovery given our current trajectory.

  2. What a beautiful place with the variety of nature experiences. What a shame about the reef, please grow back is all I can say about it. The variety of birds is a delight as well as the clarity of the water. Enjoy your next adventure

    • Oh Sue, you were in our thoughts on all these bird sanctuaries. You will have to join us next time we go out there: much to see, easy flat walks around the islands, warm water for dips, memorable scenery.

  3. Thank you for your account of your time at East Diamond Islet. Your photographs are stunning and we are really looking forward to the next story.

  4. Your report on the state of the corals on the reefs is really disturbing. The colours of the water, sand and wildlife in the photos are still amazing.

    • Hi Jan, yes the extremes we saw were striking: above the water was epic, boisterous and brimming with life, under the surface was like an arid desert. But despite the coral tragedy, the experience was fantastic.

    • Hello Doug, nice to hear from you. This voyage has given us a taste for more of these remote trips. Hope you are doing better and having fun.

      • I thought that might be the case, best to pretend it isn’t happening so we don’t have to do anything about it. Thank you for letting us know how bad it is. Happy sailing.

  5. Have scrolled up-and-down three times and looked at all the photos over and over. A huge Sunday morning ‘thank you’ for being you and being there and sharing ! I just feel so grateful to be here and learning . . . And a very belated happy birthday ! May the year to come fulfil most of your dreams . . . love E

  6. Amazing bird and other wildlife pics! The clarity of the water …. unbelievable! Kitesurfing must have been awesome Wade … no doubt you went round the bommies and reefs? (Shame about the condition of the reef). Looking forward to the next instalment ….

    • There was a bit of dodging bommies on that attempt, being at low tide, but it was still novel! The funniest thing was Wade telling us he had seen a manta ray until he realised it was the shadow of his kite!

      • That’s funny ….. the giant manta following along at the same speed!

  7. Your drone shots, Chris, continue to be breathtaking, though in this case they share their top billing with the birds. I especially loved your shots of the Red-footed Boobies and the curious displays of the male Frigatebird. Your photos of the different crabs brought a smile to my face. I am pretty sure that most people don’t bother to take the time to observe and photograph them. 🙂

    • Many thanks for the feedback, Mike. The crabs were great fun. They actually hopped and jumped from one rock to another and got swamped by waves yet hung in there on the edge! Just fascinating to watch. And the red hermit crabs were great fun too.

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