Explore the Great Barrier Reef in style like the ‘Honey Badger’ Nick Cummins
Most things in life come in tiers.
At a restaurant, you can indulge the Central Queensland sirloin, Moreton Bay Bugs, or perhaps you go all out with the seven-course degustation overlooking the ocean with matching wines (hello!).
The Great Barrier Reef has tiers too and Lizard Island, situated in Tropical North Queensland, is the reef’s version of an impeccable degustation. Like a good long dinner, the delights are seemingly endless and when you think it can’t possibly get any better, there’s one more surprise being served up.
During the recent filming of National Geographic’s documentary series, Meanwhile in Australia, Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins touched down in this reef-fringed paradise to explore it for himself.
Please take a seat, your first glass of wine is on its way. It’s time to peruse the experience-menu of the Lizard Island degustation.
First course: touchdown
In Queensland, the journey can be as important as the destination, and when your journey is a 200km flight over the Great Barrier Reef from Cairns, crossing islands and the biggest living structure on earth, it’s easy to see why.
Only a short (yet beautiful) hour later you might even be inclined to give yourself a little welcome like Nick; “Lizard Island inhabitants, this is the Honey Badger, we’re approaching the lodge.”
Second course: the lodgings
Plunge pool, cocktail in hand, overlooking the Great Barrier Reef with everything in the room behind you perfectly appointed to cater to your every need – need we say any more?
Third course: exploration
With 24 private beaches (you’ll be shocked if you have to share a beach with anyone), stand up paddle boards, kayaks and a motorised dinghy for use throughout your stay and nature trails across the island including the breathtaking Cook’s Look where you can follow in the footsteps of the voyager himself, there is something to cater for every level of explorer on Lizard Island.
Fourth course: into the ocean
The fourth course of many degustation menus comes from the sea, but for Lizard’s fourth course, you’re going into the ocean instead.
You can opt for a self-guided snorkel straight off the beach, but we recommend joining a guided tour, which will provide the locals-knowledge on the best places to return to later.
Underwater highlights include the famous Clam Gardens that is littered with Giant Clams tipping the scales in excess of 100kg, Mermaid Cove (false advertising, there are no mermaids, sorry) and Casuarina Beach wherein the right conditions you can be surrounded by turtles enjoying a feast on the seagrass.
For divers, Lizard’s proximity to the drop-offs off the Outer Reef, make the island the perfect jump-off destination. There’s a dive spot for all levels of experience including Ribbon Reef 10 (the home of the famous cod hole frequented by the puppy dogs of the ocean: Potato Cods) and North Direction Island with its abundant macro life.
Fifth course: the dining experience
Experience is the best word to describe dining on the island, with the centrepiece being the beachside degustation.
Situated in private pavilions on Anchor Bay, each commanding spectacular sunset views, you’ll be joined by the Executive Chef to discuss and design your 7-course degustation menu with accompanying wines.
The Island’s food ethos is firmly centred around sustainability with produce from the coast, mainland hinterland and waters of Tropical North Queensland driving the seasonal menus.
Sixth course: a deeper view
One of the supreme joys of the Great Barrier Reef is the education and deeper understanding of the underwater environments everyone can experience the second they jump in.
The Lizard Island Research Station, a facility of the Australian Museum, is an internationally recognised island-based research facility that conducts approximately 100 research projects annually.
Lizard Island guests can join twice-weekly tours of the facility which provide a fantastic opportunity to learn about the complex relationships coral reef systems need to flourish.
We recommend joining a tour as soon as possible on arrival (pending on the schedule), this will enable you to see the entire underwater experience from a different point of view.
Final course: the lingering finish
Savour. Every. Last. Moment.
Enjoy one final snorkel, take the dinghy out and explore a patch of the island you’ve missed. Or, have one last bite from the Salt Water restaurant.
Lizard Island is a special place (which just so happens to be one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World) that provides an incredible platform to explore the Great Barrier Reef in profound style.
You’ve read the experience-menu, are you ready to order?