The 5 most unforgettable dining experiences on the Great Barrier Reef
Aside from its famed collection of vibrant coral and fish, the Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the country’s most memorable dining experiences. There’s a bevy of meals and restaurants in the region that will turn your foray up north into a truly unforgettable trip and leave the capital’s restaurants in the dust.
Don’t believe us? Take a look for yourself. Here are the must-do dining experiences next time you find yourself by the Great Barrier Reef.
Nu Nu Restaurant, Palm Cove
Sitting quite literally a hop, skip and a jump away from the ocean in Palm Cove is Nu Nu. The eatery is nothing short of iconic and has been recognised around Australia courtesy of its creative menu, which reads as an ode to the region’s produce.
Think of dishes overrun with the likes of barramundi, surf clams, banana flowers, durian and dragonfruit. Nu Nu offers a taste of the tropical North on a plate, no matter whether you’re after breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Orpheus Island Lodge, Townsville
If you fancy splurging you’ve come to the right place. Orpheus Island Lodge is the definition of luxury, offering all-inclusive private island accommodation smack bang in the centre of the Great Barrier Reef. On arrival guests are greeted by the executive chef to discuss tastes and dietaries before the feasting begins.
Armed with your favourite flavours, the hatted team (nominated in the 2019 Australian Good Food Guide) conjure up breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. There’s the daily degustation dinner (which can include the day’s catch if any keen fisherman strike lucky), a rotating tapas-style lunch, as well as the option to enjoy an indulgent picnic hamper while you venture out onto the nearby island beaches.
A Taste of Lizard Island
Picturesque Lizard Island is the perfect getaway for a pair of lovebirds, particularly when said lovers are self-confessed foodies. The tranquil island resort offers A Taste of Lizard Island among its many accommodation options, a three-day foray that will take guests on an adventure of the culinary kind.
The highlight of the trip is hands down the seven-course degustation dinner, which sees a bounty of delights delivered crafted from local produce and tailored to your taste buds. To top it all off, the customised feast is then matched with a prestige wine list, all to be enjoyed beachside (of course).
Vlasoff Cay Picnic
This escapade across the Great Barrier Reef will have you forget all about your penchant for a park gathering. Postcard-worthy Vlasoff Cay sits about 40km from Cairns and can only be reached by watercraft, or for those feeling a little more opulent, by helicopter. No matter how you get there, Vlasoff Cay is nothing short of paradise, all aquamarine waters and near-white sand; the perfect spot for a picnic.
There’s a bevy of companies that today cater to feasting at Vlasoff Cay (GBR Helicopters, Nautilus Aviation and HeliTours North Queensland included). Each provides guests with a bountiful brunch on arrival; think heaped plates of tropical fruits, local seafood and (naturally) plenty of Champagne.
Pebble Beach Dining, qualia, Hamilton Island
While the Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the nation’s most opulent resorts, qualia is its most famed. Sitting pretty within the pristine Hamilton Island favourite is contemporary dining space Pebble Beach. If the waterfront views don’t draw you in then the menu here will, with dishes a foray into Australia’s diversity of produce and cuisine, with a particularly strong Asian slant.
Executive chef Mark Jensen leads the charge here, utilising ingredients with an ethical edge; seasonal, sustainable and ethical produce is sourced from like-minded farmers, producers and artisans around the country.