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Great Barrier Reef Island Resorts worth leaving the mainland for

There’s no denying that the Great Barrier Reef is the prize of Queensland’s east, skirting the coastline for kilometres and offering a home to wildlife and experiences available nowhere else in the world. With that, come an expansive array of Great Barrier Reef island resorts to experience, discover and indulge in the reef, with options for every kind of traveller and budget.

Experience barefoot luxury at Bedarra Island

Bedarra Point Villa | Great Barrier Reef Island resorts

If you’re yet to visit the Great Barrier Reef – truly a wonder of the world – then you’ll want somewhere luxurious to soak in all your first experience has to offer. Bedarra Island offers the perfect resort to pair with such an occasion, a highly coveted Great Barrier Reef island resort ten kilometres off the coast of Mission Beach. A barefoot luxury hidden amongst 45 hectares of tropical rainforest, this all-inclusive island paradise is the special occasion stay is suited to anything form a celebration to a holiday splash-out.

A resort stay that raises your expectations of an island getaway, Bedarra Island Resort is fitted out with ten very private standalone villas, all sleeping two adults. Each villa has its own plunge pool, sun deck, and modern contemporary features that render the resort both highly functional as well as fabulous. The open terrace restaurant, bar and lounge are the heart and soul of Bedarra, where guests come together to indulge in the ever-changing menu and open bar. Sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkelling, fishing, tennis and self-guided interactive walks are all on offer, should you wish to leave your sundeck. Outer Great Barrier Reef snorkelling or scuba trip along with deep sea fishing charters can also be arranged for your stay.

Paying homage to the local area, Bedarra is renowned for its commitment to their habitat and home, making sustainability a core part of their resort philosophy. They’ve spent the better part of years gone by decreasing their consumption and waste and working on sustainable ways to provide water and power sources to significantly reduce their impact on the environment. A getaway with an appreciation for nature at its heart.

Families and friends welcome at Fitzroy Island

Built on the understated Fitzroy Island, this 99-room resort overlooks white sands, tropical warm waters and is a good fit for families looking to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef together. Fitzroy Island is a gateway to everything the coast of Cairns has to offer – if you ever manage to leave the comfort of the resort. This family friendly favourite offers those with a modest budget an option off the mainland and comes with a fully equipped kitchenette and incredible views of the beach from the ocean-facing rooms.

It’s home to incredible sea life, where one dive beneath the water will have you meeting the locals face to face. Snorkel amidst angelfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish, sea anemones, corals both hard and soft, alongside brilliantly hued clams and starfish. Visit reception and request the hire one of their double kayaks or take a tour out to the massive ocean trampoline or take trip on a glass-bottom boat.

Dine at their restaurant, enjoy a meal at the beachfront bistro, or grab some ingredients at the local island supermarket and cook up a hearty meal of your own to enjoy together on the balcony. You have the freedom to choose your own family adventure on Fitzroy Island.

Explore the Reef from Lizard Island

lizard island resort

Photo by @lizardisland

Opulent and exclusive, Lizard Island is a crown jewel stay amidst the Great Barrier Reef island resorts, home to only forty rooms, all with a tranquil and natural personality waiting to welcome you. Shed your regular life and step into island living while exploring any one of their 24 pristine white beaches, sink your toes into the cool sands, or dip your feet into the water where clam gardens, coral and marine life are abundant below.

Lizard Island is Australia’s northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef, a truly secluded paradise which can only be discovered by a 40 minute scenic flight over the reef from Cairns. It’s one of only three true coral cay resorts dotted along the East Coast, which means you can simply walk from the beach and begin snorkelling the outer reef. A once in a lifetime experience, that you’ll promise to return for.

The food philosophy on Lizard Island is simple, seasonal and embraces the local produce. Enjoy the daily changing menu paired with a fine selection of wine at Saltwater restaurant, complete with breathtaking views sweeping over Anchor Bay. With plenty to do in and around the resort, you can settle in for an afternoon on a secluded beach, indulge in a degustation by the water, pop by the reef research station or lizard spot the local monitors that give the island its namesake. There’s a little something for everyone on Lizard Island.

This quintessential North Queensland experience is perfect for special occasions or a scenic getaway, however it’s not available to families with little ones under the age of ten.

The private, secluded and serene, Haggerstone Island

You’ll find Haggerstone Island about 600km north of Cairns, alongside the rugged Cape York Peninsula. An exclusive Great Barrier Reef Island resort where you can retreat from city-scapes and traffic to be one with your own piece of paradise. A unique and special place in Tropical North Queensland to be engaged in your own relaxation and immersed in natural surrounds.

Five beachfront villas are sparingly dotted along the coastline of Haggerstone Island, offering privacy, ocean views, and a base to explore the island marine life amidst shipwrecks and age-old artefacts. Discover simple and flavoursome cuisine, caught fresh that day from your own backyard or picked from the island orchids and then prepared before you. Ground yourself in discovery as you uncover the island’s history, custodians, and culture each day you spend there.

Indulge in the solitude of the island and bask in a resort getaway that offers a taste of everything, from Queensland’s famous pristine beaches, exploration, adventure and water play, to special cuisine fresh from the ocean to your plate, relaxation and remoteness. A truly special experience to uncover.

A little something for every traveller on Green Island

green island resort

Photo by @reefcruises

Built amidst acres of unspoilt tropical rainforest, this coral cay Great Barrier Reef island resort off the north-east of Cairns holds a special place in the heart of Queensland tourists. Green Island is well-known for being the only coral cay getaway surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, making this resort the best of both worlds for your Queensland island escape.

Green Island has everything to keep you occupied while you’re not lounging on the beach. The site plays host to a coast of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and abundant marine life. It is home to a crocodile farm with the world’s oldest prehistoric pal, Cassius. The Green Island Boardwalk is worth a special mention, an accessible 1.3km return, taking just under an hour, this trail will guide you through the history of the island and observing over 126 native species of Green Island plant life. Green by name, and green by nature, the island is working on newer and greener technologies for energy and waste management for a sustainable stay, so you can enjoy all the reef has to offer without contributing to its demise.

The tropical romance is perfect for honeymooners and romantic getaways, but not exclusionary of families either. The emphasis lies with experience and activity over dining and lounging, but with plenty on offer, you won’t be short on an expansive to-do list.

Townsville day trips to Pelorus and Orpheus Islands

If your journey won’t take you quite as far north as Cairns, there’s plenty of beautiful islands to discover off the coast of Townsville. Pelorus and Orpheus Islands are a popular location for day trips off Townsville and offer you plenty of rocky reefs, corals and marine life to satisfy your adventurous spirit.

Accessed from Lucinda, these continental islands are home to unique dive sites like The Bat Caves, The Maze, Moon Pools, Trenches and Black Coral Wall. These sites offer an opportunity to explore ledges, gutters and walls, unabundant with little locals like turtles, reef sharks, gropers, stingray and reef fish – a surprisingly expansive selection given the island’s proximity to the mainland.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming Pelorus Island Eco-Resort currently under development on the coral-fringed island. This eco-lodge is promised to be built sustainably with the island’s long-term health at the helm, complete with on-site water desalination, waste management, and a vision for nature-based tourism. The focus is not, therefore, on scale or intensity of the development, but the experience amidst nature.