Ever since English writer Daniel Defoe created the character of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 the world has been infatuated with the notion of “escaping” to a tropical island. Thousands of books, movies and documentaries have been devoted to this subject. Indeed, it was Confessions of a Beachcomber, a 1908 bestseller about life on Dunk Island by E.J Banfield, a latter day Crusoe, that first generated global interest in the Great Barrier Reef – now one of Australia’s premier tourist attractions.

Three hundred years after Robinson Crusoe first strode into our consciousness, along with the ever-loyal Man Friday, we find it hard to shake off our fascination with desert islands – a theme memorably brought to the big screen by Tom Hanks in the 2000 movie Cast Away.

Today’s beachcombers naturally require a few more luxuries than those enjoyed by Robinson Crusoe, who was forced to build his own shack and hunt for food. Freshly prepared gourmet meals, a world-class wine list, indulgent spa treatments and elegant, air-conditioned villas are now standard offerings at Australia’s best island resorts – a category which now extends from the tip of Queensland to Lord Howe Island, a far flung outpost in Pacific Ocean.

What constitutes a dream island getaway naturally depends on who you ask. A palm fringed beach seems to be a prerequisite, along a balmy tropical climate and a wide range of outdoor adventures, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, tennis, yachting, fishing and maybe golf – there’s an 18-hole championship golf course on Dent Island, a short boat ride from qualia resort. This selection illustrates the range and variety of Australia’s top end island resorts – from the laid-back rustic charms of Haggerstone Island to the glamour of Lizard Island and the cosmopolitan chic of qualia. Can’t decide which one to choose? That’s not a problem. Let our travel designers create an itinerary which combines two or more island getaways. Afterall, they all have their own individual charm, beauty and allure.

1. Lord Howe Island

Located some 600 kilometres off the coast of New South Wales, Lord Howe Island is one of Australia’s most exclusive island destinations – only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any one time. Classified as a World Heritage Site of global natural significance, the picture postcard island is now a magnet for scuba divers, bird watchers, surfers and kayakers from around the world. Over recent years Lord Howe has developed a small, but dynamic culinary scene – and some of the island’s most inventive dishes can be experienced at Capella Lodge, an exclusive, five-star property offering stunning mountain and ocean views. The luxurious hideaway consists of nine bespoke suites, a spacious indoor/outdoor dining area and a private swimming pool. Suites are light and airy, with polished timber floors, marine ply joinery and custom furniture pieces that create a sophisticated beach house ambience.

Lord Howe Island

2. Lizard Island

Lizard Island, the most northerly of the Great Barrier Island resorts, is a sparkling gem surrounded by the Coral Sea. The property has been extensively remodelled over recent years and now offers just 40 rooms and villas, plus two exclusive accommodation options (The Villa and The Pavilion). Celebrated for its world-class food and service, Lizard Island is also a must-do experience for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. The island, which has no less than 24 sandy beaches, provides a wide range of adventure activities for the visitor, including scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, hiking and sports fishing. The excellent dive centre offers diving lessons and private reef trips. Surrounded by fringing reefs, Lizard Island is only a 50-minute boat ride from the Outer Great Barrier Reef and a number of world famous dive sites. Other resort facilities include high-end restaurant and bar, luxury day spa, tennis courts, freshwater swimming pool, boutique, guest lounge and a well-equipped gymnasium.

lizard island

3. Orpheus Island

Orpheus Island Resort is celebrated for its isolated location, fine cuisine and world-class service. This famous boutique Queensland resort, located 80 kilometres from Townsville, is only accessible by helicopter. The 17 new-look rooms are swish and equipped with every conceivable mod con. Meals are served in the delightful main pavilion building, which also houses a small bar and guest library. Orpheus is a paradise for anyone who enjoys snorkeling or scuba diving – guests can also use one of the island’s motorized dinghies (known as ‘tinnies’ in Australia). Introductory dive lessons and charters for experienced scuba divers are also available. Other activities include fishing charters and expeditions to the national park on Hinchinbrook Island. The property offers an excellent day spa and a number of special food-oriented experiences.

orpheus island

4. Haggerstone Island

For many people a visit to Haggerstone Island, a remote speck of land off the northern tip of Queensland, is a life changing experience. This pristine island offers the kind of South Sea Island adventure popularised in the 19th Century. The property consists of three thatched huts and a grander two-bedroom villa called House Mawu, a central meeting house, a wooden jetty and private beach. Guest huts are fairly basic, but offer oodles of privacy and rustic atmosphere. Haggerstone has fantastic access to the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelling, scuba diving, spear fishing, deep sea fishing and estuary fishing are all available. For nature lovers the island has one of the largest Green Turtle hatcheries in the world, while history buffs will want to see the wreck of a 1840s sailing ship and comb the beaches for World War 2 artifacts. Guests enjoy freshly prepared meals featuring local squid, barramundi. crayfish and tropical fruit and vegetables grown in the island’s own gardens. Access to Haggerstone Island is by private charter flight from Cairns.

Haggerstone Island

5. qualia

It’s easy to see why qualia is one of the best-known luxury getaways on the Great Barrier Reef. Apart from the 60 light-filled pavilions, this immaculate Hamilton Island resort offers superb cuisine, whisper-quiet service and a dazzling range of in-house treats, including a day spa, two restaurants, a library and 12 hectares of tropical gardens. Guests have the use of their own electric golf buggy to get around. Located in the Whitsunday Islands, the award-winning resort has an impressive range of fitness facilities, including two infinity edge swimming pools and a modern well-equipped gym. Outdoor activities include snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking, golf, sailing and sea kayaking. Guests also have access to the Hamilton Island Yacht Club and Dent Island Golf Club. qualia has won numerous travel awards since it opened and was named the Best Hotel in Australasia by Conde Nast Traveller magazine in 2015.

qualia
Bio pic of The Tailor

About The Tailor

Founded by Drew Kluska in 1988 on a platform of excellence and authenticity, The Tailor offers discerning travelers the opportunity to visit the Australia people only imagine in their dreams. In conjunction with hand-selected destinations and hosts, an entirely different personality of Australia is revealed. This is a side of Australia the majority of Australians do not even know exists. The Tailor has an enviable list of past travelers and was named by National Geographic as one of 2009's "Best Adventure Travel Companies On Earth." It has also been recognized by the 2008 Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine Awards as the "Best Tourism Innovator" and as one of the "The top 50 travel experts you need to know worldwide" by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller UK. The company has been featured in many other leading international publications such as Travel & Leisure USA, Elite Traveller USA and Vogue.
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