The world’s largest single structure built by living organisms is found off the east coast of Australia- the life-giving force of The Great Barrier Reef is one of Down Under’s biggest attractions. For first time visitors wanting to explore this natural phenomenon, we can recommend some stunning island resorts providing both luxury escapes and a playground for our beautiful planet’s underwater world. Here are our five favourites from the north of the reef through to the south, each easily incorporated into a tailor-made holiday to Australia.
One of our favourites and you can see why – a short flight from Cairns and you are whisked away onto this idyllic escape, the only island resort located right on the reef. Wake up in the morning and step from your calm and contemporary beach-hut style villa onto powder soft sand, walk further into the gentle sea and start snorkelling off the shore. Lizard Island is the northernmost resort on the Great Barrier Reef, surrounded by craggy rocks, secluded private beaches and wonderful nature trails for those looking to stretch their legs.
Reached by helicopter from Cairns or Townsville, Orpheus Island sits amongst the area’s most pristine reef. Orpheus tends to be one of the lesser known, under the radar islands, probably as it is privately owned and not part of a large group. For this reason alone we LOVE it, the welcome and whole ambiance of the island is incredibly friendly and social, without compromising on luxury. The waters surrounding the island are unbelievably blue, perfect for snorkelling and there is a chance to stargaze the southern skies. Gourmet meals are included as part of the package, so indulge to your heart’s content at the open terrace restaurant.
Small and intimate Bedarra Island is a complete haven. With only 8 villas and 2 Pavilions to be found in 45 hectares of lush tropical rainforest, this is the island to go to when you’re looking for an absolute escape from the outside world. Part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the island is a half hour boat ride away from Mission beach and located perfectly for reef trips further afield. Lose yourself in this beautiful island retreat.
Hamilton Island is a destination in its own right, with a buzzy seaside village boasting stylish boutique shops and restaurants and verdant rainforest covering the island. The star attraction of the Whitsunday Islands and world-renowned Whitehaven beach are just a day trip away, but if you’re looking for a serene escape from the activities then Qualia provides just that. The gorgeous boutique resort is a gem in Australian style and hospitality. Private picnics, sunset cruises, stunning views and top class service make Qualia a great choice for luxury and style.
A dramatic mountain rising from the sea from Lord Howe Island brings to mind the excitement of Neverland or Treasure Island. This tiny island located a 2-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane is pure and perfect paradise. White sandy beaches, crystal clear blue water and UNESCO World Heritage status make Lord Howe an escape that any explorer would dream of. Capella Lodge is the ultimate luxury stay with chic interiors, jaw-dropping views, and world-class food. Although Lord Howe isn’t part of the Barrier reef, the coral formations and marine life surrounding the island have their own beauty. Being slightly further south, this is an ideal choice for someone travelling between November and March, which tend to be slightly more humid and tropical on the islands of Queensland.