North Bay is a Sanctuary Zone. It’s a ‘leave nothing but footprints’ type of place, apart from the dripping wet fact that most of it is underwater. Close to shore it’s all salty sea grass. These meadows of long stringy green treats are particularly important for garfish that feed and breed in this area. More famously it is, of course, a favourite spot to see the nomadic sea turtles who regularly nip into the North Bay drive by lane, ordering sides of sea grass. A delectable grassy treat which happens to be one of their favourite aquatic fast food take-outs.
Walking along the end of the beach at North Bay there’s an access point in which to dive in adjacent to the shipwreck of ‘The Favourite’. Coming in at this angle is the second easiest way to get to the infamous shipwreck, other than a boat. Swimming from shore is a bit of a chore.
Snorkeling here is up there with some of the best on the island. Coruscating pops of colourful fish bring this sleepy shipwreck to life. There are overgrown ridges of live coral which breathe a sense of vibrant life back into this secluded underwater Lord Howe Island graveyard.
The long slender sandy canyons in which this ship has come to rest, carve out a scintillating slice of submerged sea life in the bright sun light, perfect for snorkeling in any direction.
Attempting a surface duck-dive down into the rusted metal corpse, my fight or flight instinct is triggered when a big dark blue shape darts out aggressively from behind a wall.
I reactively jolt backwards in an unorthodox underwater slow motion manner. I must look like the human equivalent of a drunk sea horse with my awkward, contorted, sub-aquatic six foot frame.
I reflect on how close that was to my face, an attempted underwater ‘Glaswegian Kiss’ (a head butt in Scottish slang). As it darts away I get a second glance at the shadow that gave me the fright, it’s a large male double header, obviously not impressed with me poking my own nosey noggin into it’s hole.
All jokes aside, it’s the clown fish who are doing most of the mucking around, cleaning the anemones that cling to the wreckage. The wreckage was an American tuna vessel shipwrecked in 1965 on the entrance to the North passage. Locals assisted the crew ashore and the remains of the main engine, refrigeration piping and steel boxes can be seen amongst the reef.
It’s a great snorkel by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s a must do on your Lord Howe itinerary.