Lizard Island Luxury
Last year I bought a romantic luxury getaway for my husband for Christmas. And for me. It was one of those kind of presents…the ones you give knowing that you will get enjoyment value out of the present as well. I also gave him an exercise bike – another present that I would benefit from if I was so inclined to use it. Nine months later and I’ve only used it once. Ha!
What have I done?
This luxury getaway on Lizard Island was all-inclusive of meals, alcohol, accommodation and most of the activities on the island – which is described as a luxury lodge on the Northern most island on the Great Barrier Reef. I did a little research but I can honestly say that it was an impulse buy on Red Balloon (an experience gift retailer) and that the amount of money I spent caused me to constantly wonder for six months prior to the trip was ‘Shit, I hope it’s good’, especially after I realised that the only way to get there was by return flight from Cairns adding more $$$ to the trip.
After take-off, it didn’t take me long to realise that the flight from Cairns in tropical Far North Queensland out to Lizard Island was part of the wonder of the experience of visiting the island. The hour-long flight took us over a 200km expanse of the Great Barrier Reef and it was simply beautiful. As the world’s largest coral reef with over 2900 individual reef systems the Great Barrier Reef is a pretty amazing thing to be able see from above as well as beneath the aquamarine waves. In fact, according to www.greatbarrierreef.org it is “the only living thing on Earth visible from space,” and one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.
On arrival to Lizard island staff expertly greet us from the airstrip and convey us to the resort in golf carts where we are presented with champagne and lunch before being taken to our room. It’s a very one-on-one full-on welcoming service and although the staff are wonderful it’s a little too much for us but thankfully over the next few days we see that the staff are attentive and happy to help with absolutely everything but not hovering every second.
We are in an Oceanview Villa (Room 10) which overlooks Sunset Beach. The rooms are spacious and decorated nicely and the mini bar is full (yay!) which is all included and re-stocked daily (double yay!). First thing on the agenda is getting snorkelling gear from the Beach Club and booking in a private dinghy to explore the islands beaches with a picnic lunch.
Snorkelling, Sunsets and Seagulls…
Day 1 saw us heading out for a half-day jaunt on the Lizard Island boat to the inner reef. Don’t ask me where we went – but according to their website they go to Bank’s Bank, North Direction Island or The Plateau. Where ever we went was simply stunning. Although most snorkelled, several guests were diving and both groups were allocated fun-loving and friendly staff to guide them.
I have snorkelled a few times on the Great Barrier Reef but this was something else entirely. The abundance of brightly coloured tropical fish and living, breathing coral was something I will never forget. It was dazzling. I wish I had an underwater camera, but for those interested check out @ashkaras on Instagram – her photos are incredible.
Upon our return from the inner reef, we hiked to the highest point on the island – Cook’s Lookout. Rising 359 metres above sea-level and described as “very steep and unformed with sloping granite slabs, rough terrain and some roughly-hewn steps” I would definitely recommend it for experienced hikers only or for people with a very good level of fitness.
This views took my breath away – it was amazing. It was a difficult walk but so worth it. Views over the resort, the beaches and Blue Lagoon were absolutely mind-bogglingly beautiful. Say that phrase quickly ten times over! Anyway – my pictures speak for themselves.
Other moderate hikes include Chinaman’s Ridge, Watsons Walk, Pandanus Track and Blue Lagoon – so there is plenty of terrain for all fitness levels.
On Day 2 we set out on one of the motorised dinghies available to guests to privately explore some of Lizard Island’s pristine beaches. Not all beaches are accessible depending on the weather and tides but the helpful staff at the Beach club will let you know where you can visit as well as a run-down on how to operate the dinghy and some safety information.
We zoomed around to Mermaid Cove, Turtle Beach where we unpacked our picnic, and then finally to Watsons Bay and the Clam Gardens. The snorkeling was just as fantastic as the day before on our trip out to the inner reef – tropical fish, coral, giant clams – amazing.
Now, to our picnic – what was supposed to be a romantic picnic on the very private Turtle Beach was not so private. We dragged the coolers from the dinghy, set up our chairs and umbrella, poured our wine and sat back to enjoy… but the joy didn’t last long due to a flock of seagulls! While trying to serve food, eat it and trying to stop my wine glass from falling over (of utmost importance) we were harangued by screeching and fighting birds incessantly – and while this was happening – our beach umbrella blew away and there was an incident where a sea gull tried to fly away with something of mine that I can’t mention as it’s just too gross.
It was the quickest romantic picnic ever.
Day 3 saw us sleeping in, enjoying our last moments on the island with a walk out to the Blue Lagoon.
Food & Wine
Absolutely delicious. Five-star food and daily changing menu with plenty of options. They provided quality Australian and New Zealand wines, Champagne, cocktails, beer and spirits that were all included in the tariff. We didn’t feel the need to spend more on the fancier wines. There is an option to pay for a degustation meal but I’m not why anyone would – the dining options available were spot-on!
Snorkeling, diving, trips to the inner and outer reef, stand up paddles boards, bushwalking, fishing, sailing, glass bottom boats, motorised dinghies, day spa – plus more. Most activities are included in the tariff. Check the website for all the activities.
Access to Lizard Island is from Cairns on daily flights through East Air. Fly to Cairns from all Australian major cities. When booking through Lizard Island website all the information, pricing and bookings will be provided for the 60-minute scenic flight to and from Cairns.
- Although we managed to book a dinghy to explore the island and a trip to the inner reef without any drama – if you are if visiting at peak times I would recommend booking some of these things prior to your trip.
- The walk all the way to Cook’s Lookout was over 9km return from Room 10 near Sunset Beach. The map says 4km. We assumed that the 4km was from the resort to the lookout and return, but no it’s not! Wrong! Actually, the 4km refers to the point at the end of Watsons Bay beach which is a decent walk from the resort. The recommended time for the walk is 4 hours but it took us 2 hours (we are experienced hikers). It was a fairly difficult walk so be prepared and take at least 2 bottles of water per person. We thought to only take one but the resort forced an extra one on us each – which was needed.
- Wear a wetsuit if you are one of those kind of people (like me) who feels the cold.
- Private vessels can anchor within Watson’s Bay and Blue Lagoon. Check here for details and restrictions. https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/lizard-island/about.html
Lizard Island is a tropical paradise combined with the beauty of an island wilderness. Within the resort it is lush and green but explore further to one of the 24 pristine beaches, the Blue Lagoon or beyond into the hiking trails and you’ll find a rugged landscape of headlands of rock smoothed from wind and waves, mangroves and grasslands. Luxurious and secluded with exceptional service, (except for dinner on the first night where getting a drink seemed to be a strangely difficult process) Lizard Island is somewhere I won’t forget in a hurry.
Would I recommend it?
Yes!! If you’re in the market for a romantic luxurious all-inclusive secluded escape for a special occasion or honeymoon, or simply because you can, then I would definitely recommend it. It certainly was an awesome way to experience the Great Barrier Reef. But, if secluded luxury isn’t required for your getaway then you can explore the Great Barrier Reef for a lot less.
To find out more about Lizard Island click here: www.lizardisland.com.au