Riding Information and safety tips
Lizard Island is in the northern trade wind belt and gets consistent SE winds most of the year, but especially April to September. There can be good SE winds during summer but you are more likely to get lighter northerlies at that time. It can be very windy here, with windspeeds of 20-35 knots common throughout winter, and gusts into the low 40’s on the really windy days. SSE winds are generally more gusty than SE or ESE winds at this spot.
The best estimate of the wind at Lizard Island is to add 5 knots to the readings atCape Flattery on the nearby mainland, which updates every 30min.
Launch at Mangrove Beach, about half way along in the clean air-flow, and kite out into the lagoon area. Avoid the lee side of the nearby islands (South & Palfrey) as they have vicious turbulence in their wakes. Lizard is a very isolated spot with hundreds of kilometers of tiger shark infested water and reefs to leeward, so unless you have boat support, you are better off kiting to windward of the main island so that if you have a problem you will drift back onto the island rather than off into the shipping channel. In an emergency situation, there is a nurse at the resort and both the resort and Research Station are monitoring VHF 16 and could be also possibly be raised on a mobile phone in business hours. Take steps to be extra safety conscious while kiting this area as small mistakes can be punished both due to the strong winds and the remote location. Coral cuts are likely to be the biggest hazard from marine life, and it is important to treat cuts immediately with freshwater and then Betadine.
Lizard Island works best on the lower tides, tending to be very choppy on the higher tides. You need to be careful not to ride over the darker coral areas once the tide falls below about 0.7m, as they will be very shallow. The coral is exposed at about 0.35m. The sandy area directly out from Mangrove Beach is the best spot at low tides, getting smoother the lower the water falls. Check the tides here or download the J-tides program which has good tide graphs for the island.
There are wind waves breaking on the windward reef edge, and these can be fun to play in although there are not really any peeling waves worth riding on a surfboard. The reef at the lagoon entrance and the bommies off the middle of the windward edge occasionally throw up a wave that winds off a little bit. You need at least 0.8m of water to get into the waves, and at that point it will be about knee deep over the reef crest. Best waves seem to be at tides of about 1.0 to 1.4m but we are still exploring this aspect of riding the island.
Access & Accommodation: You get to Lizard Island by boat or aircraft. There is a twice daily commercial service run by Hinterland Air to service the Resort. Book through Voyages. Prices are about $450 return and luggage is limited to 16kg per passenger. You can also charter an aircraft through Reefwatch Air Tours or several other Cairns based air charter companies, and there is a float plane from Cooktown that comes up regularly. There are no commercial ferry services to the island, butSea Swift shipping does send a barge to the resort every 2 weeks, although we are unsure about whether they take passengers.