DREAMY, LEAFY AND RELAXED, Orpheus Island on the Great Barrier Reef is all about laidback island life.arrival is exclusively by helicopter, which takes about 30 scenic and very enjoyable minutes from Townsville. The intimate Orpheus Island Lodge includes just 14 suites set along the water among lush tropical gardens.with a maximum of only 28 guests, and 30 staff, your every whim is catered to without delay.
Plan your days, with input from the ever-helpful staff, over à la carte breakfast in the main pavilion, an airy tropical-modernist space surrounded by swaying banana palms — we detect Geoffrey Bawa architectural influences — and bordered by the bright blue Coral Sea. Go for leisurely wanders around the island, take cooling swims in the black-tiled infinity pool, opt to join a snorkelling tour or cocktail making class, try out stand-up paddleboarding or charter a boat for an outer reef dive trip — options are plentiful. But it’s picnics on secluded beaches that are really the thing to do. Staff will load up a little motorised dinghy with a chef-prepared lunch hamper, towels, snorkelling gear, a picnic blanket and your choice of wine, and talk you through directions to different beaches and tips on which ones you will have to yourselves at any given time. We decide on Sandy Beach, a perfect stretch of white sand and calm water, and spend the afternoon in solitude, taking endless dips and marvelling at the beauty of this island.
Another highlight is a day trip to nearby Pelorus Island. Staff drop us off by boat on this lush little tropical paradise draped in passionfruit vines, frangipani trees and tall palms and surrounded by fringing reef.today our picnic has individual bento boxes filled with huge fresh prawns, mini sandwiches, a selection of cheeses and sliced fruit, and perfect little berry friands. Snorkelling and admiring the abundance of brightly coloured fish, artfully shaped coral and giant clams is such a nice way to spend time together on our own little island.
Sunset cocktails are at the tranquil poolside bar — we’re the only ones there most evenings — followed by an indulgent daily-changing fourcourse dinner tailored to our individual tastes in consultation with executive chef Daniel Main, who welcomes each guest on their first day to discuss their preferences. How luxurious. Course after course is fresh, expertly prepared and absolutely delicious. Great Australian wines accompany meals, but for aficionados, the master cellar list is well worth exploring.the most memorable dish is raw tuna with tomato jelly, goat’s curd, cured egg yolk and bonito flakes, made even better by a wild bandicoot scurrying across the dining room floor and hopping into the palm garden between us and the sea.
Rooms are super spacious, fresh and modern, opening out onto grass and ocean; our South Suite has a huge outdoor bath and outdoor lounges — perfect for lapping up the luxurious serenity.
From top: paddleboarding on the Coral Sea, Queensland; the infinity pool at Orpheus Island Resort; mushroom gyoza; the main pavilion lounge area; open-air dining at the main pavilion.