Some might say if you’ve seen one tropical island paradise you’ve seen them all, but Lizard Island in far, far north Queensland defies comparison. The resort may have taken its time to reopen after an extensive refurbishment post-cyclone Ita in 2014, but after calling this place home for just three nights, I think it’s safe to say it was worth the wait. Comprising 10 square kilometres on the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island is closer to Port Moresby than it is to Brisbane. Such is the remoteness of this five-star resort that staff regularly ignore the weather forecasts for (relatively) nearby Cooktown, happily (or is that smugly?) noting that regardless of what the weatherman says, it’s usually nothing but blue skies and sunshine.
An all-inclusive accommodation package can often equate to sub-par food and drink, but every meal at Salt Water restaurant was fresh, perfectly prepared and delicious — without falling into clichéd hotel comfort-food territory. Wine snobs needn’t worry, either: the extensive international list, by sommelier and wine critic Jeremy Oliver, makes for exciting reading and drinking.
If you want to walk off all the gluttony, I recommend getting up early (read: before 6am) to tackle the two-kilometre walk/hike across Lizard Island’s grasslands and mangroves to Cook’s Look. It’s a thigh-pumping 359-metre ascent up often sheer pink-granite rock faces to the top, the very spot to which Captain Cook climbed in 1770 to navigate safe passage through the treacherous reef. A hit of history and serious cardio burn, all before breakfast.
To kick-start your weekend of relaxation, I strongly suggest making an early visit to the Essentia Day Spa, which exclusively uses Parisian La Biosthetique products.there are myriad treatments to choose from, but I can vouch for the Island Essence — a head-to-toe treatment that starts with a moisturising foot mask, continues to a deep-tissue back massage and finishes with a hair treatment/scalp massage combo that almost sent me to sleep (in a good way).
Each of the 40 rooms on Lizard Island has been decorated in the same cortisol-busting blend of Scandi-meets-beach-chic style, but The Pavilion suite is the one you want to book. Sitting atop a cliff overlooking the resort, the one-bedroom loft-style apartment offers 270-degree views that will impress even the most seasoned island-hopper. Look west to Sunset Beach for the perfect sunset-over-water vista, straight ahead to nearby Osprey Island, or spin east to take in the boatspotted turquoise expanse of Anchor Bay. Whichever way you look at it, it’s all good. – Alison Izzo
The Pavilion, Lizard Island. One of several pristine beaches on the island.
Dining with a view.