In Montebello Islands, Western Australia Islands

How many men and women does it take to explore the 174 islands of Montebello? Well, we are pretty sure we don’t need mathematicians or data analyst to solve this problem. Actually, the answer is very simple: It only takes you and your partner. On the other hand, a better question can be ask: What are the things that will make you busy while visiting this oceanic paradise off the northwest coast of Australia?

While the fact that spending your vacation in a vast and remote island may sound boring, the reality is that there’s lots of activities you can enjoy that has something to do with spending time with nature. Here are the adventure sports that are popular while spending a relaxing vacation in Montebello islands.

Sportfishing

Not all days are good when it comes to fishing. I perfectly remember a friend who spent a week out at sea fishing only to come home empty handed and ended up eating canned goods. While this may be true in other areas, this is not the case in Montebello islands. A good indicator for you to be inspired and prepare for a week-long fishing trip has something to do with statistics: Montebello islands houses over 450 kinds of fish where some of the reefs that houses the species and are popular for fishing are all mapped out and just waiting for your string and rod to be deployed.

Photo courtesy from WA Fishing Charter

Almost all fishing trips to Montebello islands guarantees a good catch and never was a day that a sports fishermen went back to port without a single story to tell. Most sport fishermen who have already been to Montebello islands shared their stories that it won’t take long for a fish to bite your bait. Once the fish takes the bait, adrenaline sets in to your system as you try to reel in the fish where it always takes a good fight before you can brought it up. Common fish species caught includes spanish mackerel, red emperors, snappers, trevally, cods and coral trout.

Some have said that a good days catch will force you to release some of the fish back to the sea alive. While limited storage can be the reason behind this principle, the release of the fish back to the sea is mandatory if you happen to catch a juvenile. Do not worry if you do not know the minimum size requirement per species as each fishing boat has a fishmaster poster guide that will give you measurements with minimum size indicator.

After an hour or two of fishing, you will usually spend time cleaning and preparing the days catch for fillet. Since it is fresh, some of the fish fillet will become the meal of the day, while some will be sent to the boats freezer where you can take some home after the trip.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

What does the 174 islands of Montebello that is filled with pristine coral reefs mean? It means that snorkelers and scuba divers will be busy kicking their fins all day long.

What makes Montebello islands a vast playground for snorkelers and scuba divers is the shallowness of the site (depth usually ranging from 5 to 20 meters or 15 to 60 feet) where maximum sunlight penetration easily lit the underwater environment into a crystal clear surrounding. Further, if you try to mix the underwater landscape and the vibrant marine life of Montebello islands, this will put the lens of your camera into work as underwater photography is a popular fad in this northwestern part of of Australia.

If you try to look at the number of dive sites in Montebello islands that has been given a name, it seems that there are only a few out there that can be explored and each site has something to do with a shipwreck, like:

Tryall Rock and the Tryall Wreck

Aside from being considered as the oldest shipwreck that can be explored in Australia, this century-old Dutch vessel is also one of the farthest dive sites in Montebello islands. Located on outer edges of this offshore archipelago, a protruding rock out in the open sea will be one of your navigational guide that indicates your entry point for the dive.

Photo courtesy from Adventure Angler

Descending to 20 meters (60 feet) deep and arriving at the reef bottom, you will notice that nothing much has left with the wreck, except for some cannons and the anchor, as every part has disintegrated over time. However, the surrounding rock, called as Tryall Rock which was named after the wreck, will give you an amazing underwater experience since the site houses a pristine reef with lots of benthic fish and bottom critters.

The Bay of Trimouille Island and the remains of HMS Plym

HMS Plym was the commissioned ship to carry the 25-kiloton British nuclear bomb that was tested and detonated in Montebello islands in 1952. While doing your initial entry in the bays shallow waters, please do not expect that in a few moments the wrecks silhouette will start to appear, then low and behold it’s mighty remains. In fact, you will see nothing underwater that has something to do with the ship’s main parts or accessories. Every part of it was powderized as the nuclear was detonated inside its hull.

Photo courtesy from Surf, Dive and fishing

However, what is interesting when you go diving in Trimouille bay is that you can still navigate over the massive underwater crater caused by the nuclear detonation. As compared to its bare state just days after detonation, the underwater crater is now completely encrusted with corals and seaweeds and passing over this historic underwater monument will give you a glimpse of Australia’s explosive history as it host several nuclear detonation over the years.

Unlike the Abrolhos islands where dive trails are well established, Montebello islands is yet to be fully discovered by both snorkelers and scuba divers. In other words, you will literally be exploring uncharted trails. Just imagine this, out of the 174 islands of Montebello, only 92 actually has a name and many are yet to be explored and place its name on the map. This principle basically applies to its dive sites where the possibility of discovering and naming a new dive site can still be under your name.

Surfing

Situated on the offshore ends of northwestern Australia, the shallow reefs of Montebello island is the perfect factory in making a good swell. As deep currents approach the shallow reef, waves in turn are created where surfers can ride and choose several surfing spots that has a 1 to 4 meter (3 to 12 feet) swell and wave lengths of up to 100 to 300 meters (300 to 1,000 feet) long, as follows:

– Zorros

Photo courtesy from Monte Bello Island Safari

– Butterface

Photo courtesy from Surf, Dive and fishing

– Platty’s Right

Photo courtesy from surfresearch.com.au

Management Areas in Montebello islands

Before you start the day under the Montebello island sun, it is good to know that there are management areas that restricts some activities.

Sanctuary Zone

– this area makes up 49% of the Montebello Island Marine Park where a “look but don’t take” policy is strictly implemented. There are 2 sanctuaries in Montebello islands: one located in the northern end of the archipelago and the other is on the southern end. ¬†¬†Recreational and commercial fishing are not allowed in this area. So if you are planning for a fishing holiday, this area is not for you.

Recreation Zone

– this area is designated for the exclusive use of non-extractive type of tourist activities and is located on the southern end of this oceanic archipelago. So if you are in a chartered fishing trip, you might as well consider other areas as the non-extraction policy is strictly enforced.

General Use Zone

– located on the central part of Montebello islands, this area allows the general public to have a free access and that you can enjoy your preferred sport all year round.

Reflecting back to the answer from the question at the start of this article, you may initially find it as a description that is being made up. However, as you set foot on Montebello islands and already spent days doing this recommended adventure sports, you will definitely remember us and probably say to yourself: They were right, Montebello islands is best spent only by you and your partner, and not with a crowd.

For more information, please read our related article about Montebello islands.

References

Dark Tourism: www.dark-tourism.com

Parks and Wildlife Service – Government of Western Australia: www.parks.dpaw.gov.au

The West: www.thewest.com.au

Image Dive: www.imagedive.com.au

Wanna Surf: www.wannasurf.com

Video courtesy from Gerard O’Laoi

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