Lizard island is a fantastic base to explore nearby islands north of Cooktown.

Lizard Island

Back in the days before COVID-19 we decided to go to Lizard island for a couple of weeks.

The Lizard Island area of the Great Barrier Reef is very dear to my heart.

I spent a decade of my youth on the game boats catching marlin.

It had been 20 years or more since I had been there and it was really interesting to see the changes.

Big marlin are captured off Lizard Island.

Lizard Island is known for big marlin and here is an example of just how big they get.


Because many guests are international celebrities, you can’t access any other parts of the resort. But you can access the marlin bar on certain days for a beer and a meal.

You can also access the world-renowned Lizard Island research station in the next bay.

It’s certainly in reach of those with a 7 or 8-metre trailer boat and is about a 57 mile run from Cooktown.

Camping is available at Watson’s Bay which is one of the best anchorages on the north coast. Freshwater is available from a well not far from the campground.

The anchor holding in the bay is excellent and the water is clear enough to see the bottom. It provides great protection during the April to November trade winds.

Watson’s Bay is an absolutely beautiful anchorage.

Cooks Look, Lizard Island overlooking Watson's Bay.

Cooks Look, Lizard Island overlooking Watson’s Bay. Mood Swings is sitting down there at anchor patiently waiting for us to return.

Upon arrival, we fed the friendly fish (GT’s and Chinaman) by hand from the back of the boat. Close to the anchorage is a beautiful area to snorkel. Despite cyclones and coral bleaching, the coral and fish life were surprisingly good.

Lizard Island Exploring

During our travels, we did some filming and made a video. It’s a little longer than our usual videos but we had a great time and wanted to share it with you.

Little did we know we would all soon be in lockdown with COVID-19.

I hope our video provides some relief.


There is plenty of history here.

The bay is named after the first white settlers, the Watson family. The story has it Robert Watson and his mate went off to fish for beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers). While they were gone a pregnant Mrs Watson and her Chinese servants were chased off the island by hostile traditional owners. Escaping in a beche-de-mer boiling tub, after 8 days at sea they miraculously made it to a nearby island. The three eventually died of thirst after being stranded on the now named Watson's Island.

Turns out Lizard Island was used for ceremonial purposes by the local traditional owners. Hence why Mrs Watson was so savagely attacked.

If you're feeling energetic head to the northern end of the beach and follow the track to the Lizard Island Cook's Look. It leads to the summit of the highest peak and is where Captain Cook charted his way through the northern Ribbon reefs.

The Lizard Island Lagoon

On the opposite side of Lizard Island is another anchorage called The Blue Lagoon. It provides the best option in north westerly's. The entrance in quite narrow and should be navigated in daylight, but once inside it's a fantastic spot. We camped up here during a savage electrical storm and still slept like a baby. Although we did set two anchor alarms!

In between the two are some beautiful beaches to explore. Absolute magic! And best bet they are mostly deserted.

Lizard Island has some glorious beaches to explore.

Lizard Island has some glorious beaches to explore.


We found a shipwreck!!

While exploring the area and taking some trips down memory lane, we used our sounder skills and found a historic shipwreck!

Back in the gold rush days, Cooktown was home to some 30,000 people.

Plenty of trading vessels came to grief and while searching for Wonky Holes, we think we found one.

We have reported it to the relevant Government Department and look forward to returning to sound over the area in more detail.


The surrounding islands are spectacular

The islands north of Cooktown are spectacular.

The islands north of Cooktown are spectacular.

Lazing in the saloon during a fuel stop at Cooktown - before social distancing.

Lazing in the saloon during a fuel stop at Cooktown - before social distancing.

Lizard Island Fishing.

This trip was not really about the fishing although we did a little bit, but was more of a get away from everything trip after a hectic year in 2019.

Most of the area is now green zone and I was pleased to see many coral trout in our snorkelling trips.

We also picked up a nice Nanny-gai off Cape Flattery and scored some trout as we travelled north of Lizard.

The island is probably most well known for it's Marlin season resulting in many boats filling the bay for 3 months of the year.

This was where I was involved and was the winning crew during the 4th Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic.

Anglers from all over the world flock here for the 3 months trying to catch that grander (1000 pounds). I was also lucky to spend a full year there working on the resident boat and meeting many famous people.

Trip down memory lane.

The most fun I had during my tenure at Lizard Island was with the King and Queen of Sweden. The Queen would hold my hand while snorkelling at the cod hole every day because she was timid in the water. I bet that's something not many would have done without getting their head chopped off… haha.

The King loved his scotch and we had some great sessions with him. We became just like mates after 7 days of partying with them. Happy Dayz……….

If you have a young family and a reasonable size boat consider this place for your next adventure. Get your kids out there and enjoy this wonderful place that I once called home. Because Life is way too short!


Keeping Occupied in Lock down.

Today we have heavily discounted (save $70) our Sounder Skills 2 course to give you something more useful to do in isolation than watch Netflix.

It is child friendly and many people do the course with their kids. We are not school teachers so we can't explicitly give an age group, but expect fishing kids ages 12 and up would find it interesting and informative. There are 20 odd videos and many out in the field - sure to keep them occupied for hours.

We hope this goes a small way to easing the current burden many of us are facing.

A rising tide lifts all boats so lets stay positive as we welcome the dawn of a whole new world.




About The Author

Ryan Moody

Ryan Moody started his fishing career on the reef boats before catching bucket list marlin for the likes of champion heavy tackle angler Johnno Johnson, INXS and the King of Sweden. Branching out in the late 80's to guided barramundi fishing, Ryan has made a name for himself as a Big Barramundi specialist and to date has put clients onto over 2000 metre plus barra. That is over 2 kilometres of metre plus barra! With attitudes changing from 'keep all you can' towards catch and release, Ryan has decided to share his extensive knowledge and hopefully inspire people of all ages to get out from behind the computer screen/TV and into the fishing outdoors lifestyle he has spent his life perfecting.

Facebook comments


  • Mel Silver

    Reply Reply April 5, 2020

    Stay safe!

  • Rob Gaylard

    Reply Reply April 2, 2020

    what a way to spend a day at home, this adventure made me think this is something I would love the fishing looks amazing and the lifestyle Ryan and his partner are enjoying would suit me to the ground, very jealous guys a far cry from the Corio bay and the rip fishing down south but we have to remain housebound until this virus abates somewhat, thank you for the video it helped kill a dull day and look forward to more of your adventures and journeys.

    Rob G.

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