Sitting on the western tip of Michaelmas Reef, a mid-shelf reef formed by living coral animals, the cay developed when fragments of corals and shells were washed to the calm side of the reef by waves and wind, forming a single plateau. In these sheltered areas behind the sand bank, seeds carried by birds flourished, stabilising the cay and encouraging more seabirds to roost and nest. Their droppings fertilized the sand and more plants were able to grow. This is the large grassy area which now covers the centre of the cay.
Environmental restrictions placed on the cay have considerably reduced the numbers of people who can visit, creating the unique situation, where the island and reef remain essentially untouched in a pristine state. Those visiting will notice when diving or snorkelling that the corals appear wholly unspoiled."Michaelmas Cay is the SAFE and easy way to snorkel and dive."
Similarly, the birds are not intimidated by people on their island, as chicks they see people every day and consider these harmless creatures to be a natural part of their environment.
Likewise, the fish are accustomed to people swimming around, so much so you can approach most very close, usually within an arm’s length, before they move slightly away, just to keep that “comfortable” distance.
It truly is the simplest destination to try snorkelling and diving and glass bottom boat tours by far. Being such a large cay, it protects the waters around it and combined with its gently sloping beach, provides a simple and familiar entry into the calm water. As you head out the water gradually becomes deeper, with the reef so near on the low tides you can actually walk to the first coral only a few metres from the water’s edge. The result is that you remain more relaxed not worrying so much about swimming and being calmer, you can enjoy the reef more.
Take the ferry to the beach and start from here, it is just so easy. Standing in the waist deep water off the beach is the best place to adjust your mask and snorkel for trouble-free snorkelling. Life is a lot simpler when you are able to merely stand up to fix a problem and not have to keep swimming or treading water.