Many island beaches were named after the female family members of early settlers – Isabel Beach after Sir John Murray’s wife, Rhoda, Margaret and Winifred after his daughters. Dolly was John D Murray’s wife, Greta the daughter of a company engineer, and Ethel from the family of a pilot.
Track : Suitable for 2WD
Lily Beach is a keyhole beach with cuts into sheer cliff on either side. There is a gazebo with table and chairs – the perfect place for a picnic! There are large trees providing shade and it has a large sandy bottomed rock pool, particularly suited to young children at low tide when it is calm, although big waves can crash through anytime and caution is required. When the seas are up Lily Beach is a spectacular place to watch the waves crashing into the cliffs. A boardwalk along the cliff edge between Lily Beach and Ethel Beach provides a look at a variety of birds including Brown Boobys and Red Footed Boobys nesting on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. A few blow-holes will add interest to your walk.
Track: Rough, but suitable for 2WD
Whilst it is less idyllic in appearance than Lily, Ethel’s rocky shoreline is well worth a stroll. Overhung by pandanus, the beach may reveal a fossil or two and some blue coral rubble which hints at it’s volcanic past. You can swim here, and the snorkelling can be excellent, but it requires the same care as Lily Beach. At the top of the stairs to the beach, there is a water tank and showers for rinsing off after your swim.
Track : 4WD needed
A short walk of about 300m from the car park, followed by a climb down a steep staircase at the top of a sea cliff leads to Greta Beach. There are signs at the top of the stairs to Greta requesting that you take a bag and help with the ongoing clean-up of Greta Beach, which unfortunately is the collection point for much plastic flotsam and jetsam which is washed ashore on the ocean currents. Turtles nest all year round on this beach, and high numbers of red crabs spawn here during the annual migration, so just by taking some plastic off the beach during your visit will help ensure that local nesting turtles are protected.
Track : 4WD needed
Dolly Beach is one of the prettiest and most secluded beaches on the island and is deserted much of the time. It is a popular spot for camping amongst locals, as it has fresh water and a flat area behind the beach. The car park is approximately a 30 minute drive from Settlement and walking time into the beach through the rainforest is approximately 45 minutes on a boardwalk. There are shallow rock pools and a sandy beach surrounded by overhanging coconut palms. Dolly Beach is the larger of the two beaches where marine turtles nest, the other being Greta Beach. Tracks of nesting adults and of emerging hatchlings can be seen amongst the drifted logs, coconuts and other debris.
West White Beach
Track – suitable for 2WD
Visible from Settlement, this white strip of coral beach along the north coast makes for a great day trip. The 1.4 km trail to West White Beach meanders downhill through tall plateau and terrace rainforest. This is a moderately difficult walk and includes a short descent down a steep cliff using a rope towards the end of the walk. The beach has a stunning coral reef off the shore, with views of the north coast. If you don’t want to walk back up the track, request for a boat transfer back to Settlement with one of the island’s dive charter operators.
Track – 4WD needed
Tackling the 4WD track to Winifred through rough but scenic drive mostly though semi deciduous rainforest is only half the fun on this day trip. The real challenge comes in the walk through the rainforest to the beach access. The track can be steep in places and traverses through rugged terrace forest. The trail reaches the coast via a steep staircase down the cliff face, leading to a rocky shore and small picturesque cove. Spend some time checking the rock pools, or snorkelling around the rocks, but always be careful here as tides change, and access to and from the beach is only possible during low tide.
Tide details are available from the Visitor Information Centre