You can rent this entire Whitsunday island for $190/night
Introducing Camp Island; completely off the radar until now but actually only three kilometres offshore from Elliot River in Abbott Bay, a whisker north of Bowen on the Whitsunday Coast.
Available for exclusive hire, Camp Island Lodge turns camping on its head with four bungalows that bear no resemblance to its namesake, other than the fact you won’t have to see any neighbours. Here, camping stretchers are replaced by queens and kings, food isn’t served on a paper plate but dished up by executive chefs, and porta-potties are replaced with the real deal.
And we haven’t even got to the best part, it’s yours (and seven of your nearest and dearest) for just $1500/night or $190/per person if you’re going dutch.
Yes it’s affordable, yes it’s exclusive and yes you can build a bonfire on the beach.
SOLD? There’s more. You’ll find this island adventure is as customisable as the IKEA PAX wardrobe collection, from how to get here, where to sleep and what to eat along the way.
You = master
Camp Island Lodge = your destiny
How to get there
To land like a Hollywood A-lister, Great Barrier Reef Helicopters flies direct from Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine), with window seats all around for views over the Great Barrier Reef landing onto this atoll.
Alternatively, swap aerial views for water views, transferring by barge from Elliot River to the island’s jetty across 20 minutes of open sea.
Either way, by the time you have your arrival drink in hand, you’ll be on Camp Island time.
What’s on this Whitsunday island?
The modern bungalows surround an open-plan guest lodge – the perfect communal meeting ground for groups of friends, families or colleagues.
Catering is all part of the customisation of this island resort, where you can BYO everything or make like a movie star and have an executive chef prepare your meals. On the menu, you’ll find local produce and reef-caught seafood, another proof point that this island and regular camping aren’t just distant cousins, they’re blood lines apart.
What can I do there?
By day, you can balance beach time with bush, discovering the different landscapes on the island including rocky headlands and hilly outcrops. Climb to the highest point to finish the day with a couple of bevvies, catching sunset over Cape Upstart on the mainland.
There’s no need to beat the crowds to the beach to stake towel space; whether you come as a couple or a full fleet of eight, you’re guaranteed the whole island resort to yourself. You’ll only share the 2.4 hectares with the island’s wallabies, eagles and migratory birds including the Torres Strait Island pigeon.
Drop-ins are common between July to October when the Whitsundays passage becomes a humpback highway as whales make their migration north, but don’t worry, they’ll only stay and play a little while.
Days can be packed with as much or little as you want, reading or beachcombing Robinson Crusoe style. With mainland services only a phone call away, you’ll find Bowen’s beauty therapists as on-demand as the movies on the resort’s TV.
Are the fish on the bite?
Of course, the fringing reef 40 miles east of shore begs for you to put your head under water while further offshore, private fishing charters will teach you to reel in mackerel, trout and trevally in the outer reef or mangrove jack and barra in Abbott Bay’s estuaries. Private tours will pick you up for either fishing or snorkelling from the Camp Island jetty.
You can even try netting your own prawns and hunting for oysters off the rocks for a DIY fresh seafood platter.
Closer to home, kayaks or surf skis are all the paddle power you need to discover local coves and beaches around Cape Upstart.
The clincher? Unlike the camping that you know, Camp Island Lodge is wet-weather friendly and perfect all year round.
Now, that’s our kind of camping.
The important stuff:
Getting there: Fly into Proserpine and transfer by boat or helicopter to Camp Island Lodge, just offshore from Bowen. Note: Flights/transfers not included in accommodation rate.
The cost: $1500/night whether you come as one person, two people or eight.
The catering: Keep costs down by BYO-ing supplies from the mainland, or toss in a few extra dollars each for an executive chef to prepare your meals for you. A personal chef starts from $300/day.