The Great Barrier Reef stretches across 2300kms of the Queensland coast and includes over 1000 beautiful tropical islands and coral cays, many of which host amazing luxury island resorts.
However, sometimes these resorts fall victim to cyclones, falling tourism numbers or a lack of investment so here’s our update on the top 15 North Queensland island resorts in the Great Barrier Reef:
1. Brampton Island (Mackay)
Brampton Island is south of the Whitsundays near Mackay. It is a national park island with rainforest, gorgeous beaches and one resort, which is in need of a major revamp.
While it is a beautiful island all the attention has been on its neighbours further north of late so it seems to have been largely forgotten about.
2. Hamilton Island (Whitsundays)
Hamilton Island has been one of the stars of the Whitsundays Islands for some time and for good reason. It is home to the amazing 6 star resort of Qualia (where Oprah stayed) and hosts the annual Hamilton Island Race Week – a great excuse for celebrities and socialites to attend very glamorous parties on golf buggys!
While Qualia offers high end luxury, there is a good range of accommodation options on Hamilton (including some really beautiful houses to rent) and you can fly there directly, so it’s easy to get to.
3. Daydream Island (Whitsundays)
Daydream Island has been a family favourite for several years and its Living Reef Lagoon is definitely one of its highlights.
However, the resort is getting a little tired and needs a revamp. It was recently bought by Chinese investors who have promised to spend millions on upgrading it.
4. Hayman Island (Whitsundays)
It was bought by the global group One&Only and they have invested an estimated $80 million into its reconstruction and turned it into a beautifully glamorous resort that competes head to head with Qualia.
5. Lindeman Island (Whitsundays)
Lindeman Island was always popular with the younger market thanks to its Club Med Resort, but it was sold to a Chinese investor in 2012 after a cyclone affected visitor numbers. It is currently closed while undergoing a major redevelopment.
6. Long Island (Whitsundays)
Long Island is absolutely stunning and marketed as the ‘natural’ island of the Whitsundays, allowing visitors to experience local wildlife in their natural surroundings.
There are three resorts on the island but if you’re after something a little bit special and unique then Paradise Bay Eco Resort is the one to check out.
7. Magnetic Island (Townsville)
It is largely made up of National Park and is a very pretty island with beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife. In fact it is home to Australia’s most northerly koala colony.
There is a population of about 2000 residents on Magnetic Island so it is fairly residential but there’s a range of accommodation including the luxury Peppers Blue resort, which is located right next to where the ferry arrives.
There are no mega resorts or huge developments.
8. Orpheus island (close to Townsville)
Orpheus Island is part of the Palm Island Group near Townsville and most of the island is national park except for the resort and a reef research centre.
When you stay at Orpheus Island Resort it’s hard not to feel like a movie star because guests get picked up and flown in by helicopter. With a maximum of 30 guests at any one time, this island is the place to get pampered and away from it all.
Rooms cost from $1400-$2800 per night and everything is included from delicious gourmet meals and drinks to snorkeling.
9. Dunk Island (near to Mission Beach)
The resort on Dunk Island is being rebuilt after being seriously damaged by Cyclone Yasi so the only option in terms of accommodation is camping.
Visitors can also pop over for daytrips to enjoy the beach and bushwalks.
10. Bedarra Island (near to Mission Beach)
As a small resort with only eight guest villas guests are guaranteed privacy. Their policy of ‘not catering’ to children under 16 also guarantees peace and quiet for weddings and honeymoons.
11. Fitzroy Island (Cairns)
Fitzroy Island is a stunningly beautiful island only a short boat ride from Cairns so its a popular daytrip. There are a few things to do on the island so there’s plenty to keep couples and families entertained if you choose to stay over.
The resort has had a checkered history but it offers good mid-range apartment style accommodation. There are a couple of restaurant options on the island but if you stay for a few days you might want to take some food over too.
12. Green Island (Cairns)
After 5pm it all quietens down and only the resort guests are left to enjoy a glass of champagne on the beach as the sun sets.
Green Island Resort itself provides secluded luxury accommodation – its a beautiful resort to stay at but with all the daytrippers, you don’t get to enjoy the feeling of being on your own tropical island until sundown.
13. Double Island (Palm Cove)
Double Island is a small island just off the coast near Palm Cove in Cairns. For years it was only accessible to people who could afford to rent the whole island (many thousands of dollars a night) and consequently, it was empty for many months of the year.
However it is now available to small groups, families and couples for a minimum three-night stay during certain time periods. Its quiet seclusion is obviously still available for those who want the whole island for a wedding or other private function.
14. Lizard Island (Cooktown)
The resort on Lizard Island has hampered by cyclones over recent years but it is very exclusive and luxurious.
It is also close to amazing snorkelling, deep sea fishing and scuba diving, including the well known Cod Hole.
15. Haggerstone Island (tip of Cape York)
It is a remote, beautiful and secluded eco-resort that you can rent in its entirety if you have a group of eight guests.
Access to the island is via a charter flight from Cairns to a nearby island and then boat transfer.
Photos thanks to Tourism & Events Queensland