Escape to luxe island hideaways, indulgent outback retreats or tranquil ancient rainforests. Kick off your shoes, take some much needed R&R and discover the unique landscape of Tropical North Queensland.
Bedarra Island Resort
It’s the Hollywood picture of a tropical island retreat; private free-standing villas set in lush green rainforest, each overlooking the pristine turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. This all-inclusive, adults-only resort has a maximum of 20 guests at any given time making Bedarra Island the pinnacle of seclusion and relaxation. And when they say all-inclusive, they really mean it. Fancy a romantic candlelit dinner on your own private beach? Done. What about a gourmet picnic on a nearby deserted island? They’ll take you there.
From fishing gear and kayaks to cocktails and meals, the staff at Bedarra Island go above and beyond to ensure your luxury escape is unforgettable. A leisurely lunch awaits you as you arrive in style via helicopter from either Cairns or Mission Beach or by boat charter from South Mission Beach. Pop the champagne bottle and you are officially on island time.
Lizard Island Resort
From the moment you lay your eyes on Lizard Island after your flight over the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, you know your time here is going to be special. The aquamarine reef sprawls below you hugging the group of islands contrasting with the deep blue ocean and white sand. As you prepare to land, see how many of the 24 private beaches you can spot – you can commandeer your own motorised dinghy to explore them at your own leisure later (deluxe picnic hamper in tow of course).
But first, it’s time to check in and check out this little heaven on earth. The resort offers a range of luxury rooms up to the epitome of elegance, The Villa; featuring panoramic ocean views complete with an 8m private plunge pool. If you ever feel like leaving your room, take advantage of the stand-up paddle boards and sea kayaks, head out to world-class reefs on a dive expedition, or up the relaxation mode at Essentia Day Spa. Wind down for sunset at Salt Water Restaurant with an exquisite ever-changing menu focussing on quality local produce. This is your one-way ticket to feeling like royalty.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas
Port Douglas wouldn’t be the place you know and love without Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas, credited for transforming the sleepy village to a tropical playground for the rich and famous, whilst maintaining the town’s relaxed coastal charm. Recently undergoing a makeover, the iconic resort boasts over two hectares of shimmering lagoon pools, complete with private cabanas, a swim up bar and sandy beaches. If you’d prefer the real deal, it’s conveniently located along the famous Four Mile Beach.
While the pinnacle of luxury might be their presidential suite, each one of their 295 beautifully appointed rooms, will be sure to impress from tropical garden views, swim-out rooms to balconies capturing the cool sea breeze. You’ll also find the award-winning Harrisons by Spencer Patrick restaurant positioned along the lagoon pool, and an 18-hole golf course complete with an aquatic driving range and views to the Daintree Rainforest.
Venture through World Heritage Rainforest, the Atherton Tablelands and into a 20,000-year-old landscape carved out by an ancient volcano. Your four-hour scenic 4WD journey concludes at MacEacherns Camp set on the 70,000 acre Kinrara Station. Here you are welcomed onto country by the local Gugu Badhun peoples before being introduced to the luxury camping facilities that will be your base for the next five days. The Gugu Badhun are the people of the ‘Valley of the Lagoons’ and your private camp oasis overlooks one of these breathtaking water sources overflowing with rich plant and animal species.
This fully hosted expedition takes you into a world unlike any other and is the perfect experience for nature lovers who still enjoy their creature comforts. Opt for a helicopter tour over the volcano crater, mountain biking through the bush, birdwatching, swimming and fishing, or simply choose to stretch out in a hammock with your favourite book. Your hosts will craft your days to your taste for an escape into real Australia that is both extraordinary and rejuvenating.
Kinrara Expeditions is operational between April to September to ensure your ultimate comfort with pleasant temperatures and minimal rain.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve
Stay on a private peninsula in a bungalow nestled amongst the trees at the deluxe eco-retreat located along the Great Barrier Reef Drive near Port Douglas. Upon arrival venture upstairs to Osprey’s Restaurant to see the expansive views over the Coral Sea unfold in front of your eyes before feasting on the menu focussing on local seasonal produce.
Awarded the highest Ecotourism accreditation for maximising informative and meaningful experiences, Thala Beach provides complimentary tours to guests. View the Milkyway and planets through the lens of a telescope stargazing with an experienced guide, learn the surprising properties of the coconut on Australia’s only coconut tour or join local Aboriginal elders as they share their stories passed through generations of Kuku Yalanji people.
Mount Mulligan Lodge
In the back-country 150kms north-west of Cairns, rugged outback meets luxury at all-inclusive Mount Mulligan Lodge. An 18km escarpment dominates the landscape with the lodge perfectly positioned to enjoy views over their weir towards the sandstone range. Set on a 28,000-hectare cattle station, the property is rich in history and features the remains of the Mount Mulligan township, coal mine and Tyrconnel gold mine which can be explored by foot or ATV.
Corrugated iron outdoor baths, spotted gum timber cladding, natural textures and earth-toned finishings pay homage to the surrounding landscape and pastoral heritage of the property. Each room is provided with a personal electric buggy for guests to zip between their room, Main Pavilion and Sunset Bar. The weir provides a spectacular vista towards the towering range of Mount Mulligan where guests can choose to paddleboard, kayak or fish for a prized barramundi.
If you prefer your luxury accommodation to be of the floating variety, look no further than Coral Expeditions. In between voyaging to pristine locations on the Great Barrier Reef, relax on-board this intimate vessel and enjoy activities including a unique culinary experience watching chefs at work in the open galley.
By day, explore the world’s largest living ecosystem; the Great Barrier Reef. Journey to uninhabited sand cays, luxurious islands and explore seven different reefs, including the pristine Osprey Reef and Ribbon Reefs. Visit the majestic Lizard Island and hike the island’s highest peak, Cooks Look.
By night, kick up your sea legs and indulge in sunset cocktails and gaze at uninterrupted views of the starry southern night sky. As a grand finale of this luxury seven day expedition, indulge in sunset drinks on an uninhibited sand cay.
Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Hotel
One could call Crystalbrook masters in luxury. Indulge with a clean conscious at Cairns’ first five-star hotel in over 20 years at Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort. From the paperless check-in, recycled wooden room key and absence of plastic drinking bottles and straws at the resort’s three on-site restaurants, the subtle touch points of sustainability woven through the property is refreshing.
Spend your days lounging in a cabana by the pool sipping on a signature cocktail and book in for some me-time at Eléme Day Spa where the therapists will personalise your experience to suit your desires. Wind down the day overlooking the ocean at Rocco, Cairns’ only rooftop bar.
Gilberton Outback Retreat
Luxury and rustic come together to at the super exclusive Gilberton Outback Retreat. A maximum of two guests can enjoy the private cabin offering the quintessential Aussie outback experience with a modern twist on the iconic tin shed. Perched on a hill with uninterrupted views over the Gilbert River, use this digital detox as an escape from the outside world and immerse yourself in the rugged landscape and station life. Visit ancient Aboriginal art sites, test your luck at fossicking, take a 4WD tour or venture out for a bushwalk. Wash off the days’ dust in your bath as the sunsets with panoramic views over the arid bushland.
Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat
You might laugh at first when you hear that some properties in Tropical North Queensland come complete with a fireplace, but a trip to the Atherton Tablelands during winter will have you reassessing. Located in the cool highlands of Cairns, Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat is a romantic and haven set within the lush tropical rainforest. Your log treehouse blends in with the environment each featuring a private balcony and spa bath with stunning rainforest or mountain views, and, of course, a wood-burning fireplace.
Set on 93 hectares, you can explore 9km of walking trails on the property, home to over 160 bird species including the cassowary, platypus, wallabies and the most primitive and smallest species of kangaroo, the musky rat-kangaroo. While you might never want to leave, it’s the perfect place to base yourself to explore the Atherton Tablelands, located only 15 minutes from popular swimming hole Lake Eacham or 20 minutes from the charming country town of Yungaburra.