With an enviable position on the northernmost tip of the Great Barrier Reef, 240-kilometres from Cairns, Lizard Island couldn’t be more remote, yet that’s all part of its appeal.
White sand and swaying palms, meets blue skies and bluer seas; in this far flung slice of paradise that fuses isolation with exclusivity. Little wonder then that it’s a beacon for A-listers. A favourite with homegrown heavyweights such as Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, the charms of the island have also found fans with international Hollywood stars, with the likes of Kate Hudson calling it "the most romantic place on earth.”
Part of the Luxury Lodges of Australia collection, the luxury resort has something for everyone - from access to some of the best dive spots in the world and amazing cuisine, to out of this world beaches and breathtaking hiking trails; read on for 9 reasons why this idyllic isle is the ultimate tropical vacay.
The flight over is worth the trip alone
The largest coral reef system on earth, the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders. While you can pay big bucks for a scenic helicopter or plane ride over it, by booking a stay on Lizard Island you get to experience this jaw-dropping site inclusive in your stay.
Any visitors will need to arrive by light aircraft from Cairns and this hour-long journey takes you over the Reef. You’ll be glued to the airplane window, which is a good thing as there’s also the potential to spot whales, dolphins and manta rays.
It's a beach bum's paradise
With 24 tranquil, powdery white beaches just waiting to be explored, even the most discerning beach bums will be in awe of the serene stretches of sand on the island. And with only 40 suites and villas, it’s almost a cert that you’ll be able to find your own patch to turn your Robinson Crusoe fantasises into reality.
Food and drink is all-inclusive
You can enjoy 5-star dining and drinking from dawn to dusk and, best of all, it’s all inclusive (aside from speciality cocktails and spirits) which means that the fear of a whopping bill awaiting you upon checkout is removed.
The open-fronted Osprey’s restaurant definitely makes the most of the awe-inducing beach and ocean views. Serving a daily changing menu of modern Australian dishes, upon which seafood features heavily, as you might expect. For something extra special, book a beach dinner degustations at one of two lantern-lit pavilions right on the sand.
You can captain your own boat
Speaking of lip-smacking eats, an absolute must-do is to create your own gourmet picnic basket and take it with you on a private to offshore excursion whereby you captain your own boat for a day of beach hopping to some of the afore mentioned pearly white stretches of sand.
Complimentary motorised private dinghies are a signature on the island and friendly staff will pack a delectable esky of goodies to order (think fresh prawns, sushi, bubbles and tropical fruit) and ready your vessel. Bring your snorkel gear and get a quick tutorial and you’re off. If that doesn’t take your fancy, there’s also glass bottomed kayaks and paddle boards on hand too.
The diving and snorkelling is out of this world
Set amidst the largest reef system in the world with one of the richest varieties of marine life, snorkelling and diving here is - as you might expect - pretty epic. A mere 50 minutes transit from the island and you’ll reach the Cod Hole on the northern tip of Ribbon Reef. Considered one of the best dives on the planet, expect grey reef sharks and friendly potato cod. Both inner and outer reef dives are on alternate days, however, be aware that there’s a strict 24-hour no diving rule before or after flying, so to dive you must book at least three nights and make sure that the middle day falls on an outer reef diving day.
But you don’t have to go deep to be amazed. Simply donning a snorkel and taking a few steps from your beachfront lodgings will allow you to see a dizzying array of reef fish, enormous clam gardens, colourful coral, sting rays and turtles.
You can get an insight into reef research
Wannabe David Attenborough’s can make like the man himself and head to the Lizard Island Research Station to meet the marine scientists who are working hard to save the Reef and to study the wealth of organisms that inhabit it.
Owned and operated by the Australian Museum, the station attracts top researchers from all over the world and is internationally recognised as the major research facility on the Great Barrier Reef. Guests at the resort can enrol on daily 90-minute tours to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at this game changing environmental centre.
There's fantastic walking tracks
More than half of Lizard Island is covered in grasslands, woodlands, paperbark swamps and mangroves and midst all this flora are some great walking trails. The perfect morning activity - or as an afternoon exercise to work off your delectable lunch - hiking here will also allow visitors to get a glimpse of the resident reptiles, after which the island was named by the man who discovered it - captain James Cook.
Speaking of the pioneering seafarer, scaling the most challenging trail will take you to the highest point on the island, Cook's Look, where the man himself climbed in 1770 to try and navigate a safe route through the surrounding reef.
You can indulge at the day spa
For those seeking further relaxation, Lizard's Essentia day spa is the place to go.
A tonic for the body and soul, its range of innovative wellness consultations include the likes of iridology, instant blood typing, herbal formulas and naturopathy. For stressed out city slickers, a newly unveiled collection of stress and burnout programs create a personalised treatment plan to help restore balance; all of this alongside more traditional massage and facial treatments and yoga and meditation sessions.
The accommodation is glossy mag worthy
The beach-inspired interiors of the newly renovated villas could easily be featured in the pages of a high-end homes magazine.
Interiors are breezy, relaxed, surrounded by tropical plants and with a muted colour palette.
For A-listers - or those with an A-list budget - the Pavilion secluded, luxurious and boasting sweeping beach views, a wraparound sun-deck and a private plunge pool. But be prepared to dig deep, it’s a hefty $5,000 per night.