Luxury Great Barrier Reef and Northern Queensland Tours
Awe inspiring marine wildlife and stretches of pristine rainforest
The northern reaches of Queensland are incredible sites for those who enjoy vast wilderness. The area plays host to over an incredible 36 national parks and contains three World Heritage Sites within its borders, namely the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Riversleigh fossil site and, most famously of all, the Great Barrier Reef.
Considered one of the great natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is the biggest coral reef system on the planet. Superlatives fail to capture its immensity and beauty, an environment that fosters incredible biodiversity, including 30 species of cetaceans, more than 1500 types of fish and the graceful dugong, strung out across 2300km (1400 miles). Explore this underwater marvel with unmatched snorkelling, diving and wildlife watching boat trips. There are also hundreds of islands and beaches to discover.
Another popular destination is nearby Cairns, a great spot from which to begin an adventure into the tropical jungles of northern Queensland. With great stretches of eucalyptus savannahs and its remote, barely disturbed environment, the Cape York Peninsula is the northernmost point of Australia. Rivers, creeks and streams bubble through mostly flat territory with mangrove swamps, rainforests and amazing, rough trails for real explorers. The town of Laura also harbours some of the oldest rock paintings from the Aboriginal peoples.
The largest living organism on the planet, viewable from space and spanning over 2,300km of vibrant coral and exquisite marine life. Journey out to Lizard Island, situated right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and walk directly out of your private tropical paradise, onto white sandy beaches and out to the crystal-clear waters of the Reef itself. Explore the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, situated at the southern point of the Great Barrier Reef and relax on the pure white, silica sand of Whitehaven Beach, ranked as Australia’s No.1 beach and commonly ranked in the Top 10 best beaches in the world.
Our top Great Barrier Reef and Northern Queensland example trips
Whatever you want your luxury tour or safari itinerary to include, we’ll create something fully bespoke for you… and only you.
Our favourite places to stay in Great Barrier Reef and Northern Queensland
- Lizard Island$$$$$Escape from it all on the largely uninhabited and breathtakingly pristine Lizard Island on the northernmost tip of Great Barrier Reef. The eco-lodge maintains a responsible, sustainable presence within the national park working closely with the traditional owners of the land to preserve it and the reef. The island can only be reached by private charter from Cairns Airport – taking you to 1,013 hectares of Australia National Park with 24 white-powder sand beaches, a picturesque lagoon and native bush. Choose from 40 luxurious suites, villas or the pavilion, each offering complete privacy, spectacular views and some with private plunge pools. Guests bask undisturbed in the tropical sun or take to the water to discover colourful coral reefs right on their doorstep in one of the world’s most spectacular protected reefs. A stay on the island also includes gourmet dining, picnic hampers on the beach, watersports equipment, a welcoming pool surrounded by palms and indulgent treatments at the spa. The island attracts ocean enthusiasts who come for some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling opportunities, including the famous Cod Hole. Ribbon Reefs draw keen fishers as one of the best big game fishing spots in the world and its multitude of undisturbed private beaches also makes it a hotspot for a romantic getaway or a secluded hideaway for the rich and famous.
- Silky Oaks$$$$$Silky Oaks is one of Australia’s most stunning riverside lodges, nestled in tropical North Queensland rainforest with a collection of treehouse suites immersing guests in the lush surroundings. The eco-retreat invites you to escape from everyday life and get back in touch with nature amongst the Daintree rainforest setting. The treehouses and suites blend organic wooden furnishings with contemporary design. Each room has a wide verandah with hammocks, breakfast with a view and deep baths to sink into at the end of the day. Dining at Silky Oaks is a memorable experience, with gourmet Australian cuisine served in the award-winning open-sided Treehouse Restaurant which is perched high above the rainforest and Mossman River. Guests can soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa. Guests can explore this diverse and dense rainforest by its many hiking trails, cruise down the river in a canoe, take out a bicycle to venture further afield, go goanna spotting, get zen with morning yoga or cool off in the scenic river. Alternatively, you can simply soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa.
- Orpheus Island Lodge$$$$$Orpheus Island is set among the sparkling waters of the Great Barrier Reef and encompasses 11km of pristine coastline and 1,368 hectares of national park. The lodge is nestled within the sheltered Hazard Bay, putting you in the perfect position from which to experience the bounties of this great natural wilderness. The 17 rooms at Orpheus Island are clean, crisp and contemporary. Natural colours, blond timber and large windows create bright and laid-back spaces, complemented by the extraordinary setting outside. They are the ideal place to which to retire and gaze upon gorgeous beachfront views after a day spent exploring. For families or groups of friends, the four-bedroom beachfront villa is perfect. Dine at the lodge’s restaurant, which uses freshly caught and locally grown ingredients to create dishes that reflect the island’s tropical environment. Select from some of Australia’s finest vintages to accompany your food. For something truly unique, the Dining with the Tides experience allows guests to enjoy a private dinner on the pier served under the starry night sky. The Aboriginal name for Orpheus is Goolboddi and the island’s original inhabitants were the Manbarra people. In consultation with the elders of the region, the lodge’s spa was named Gwandalan which means ‘rest and peace’ in the Aboriginal language. Relax, rejuvenate and forget your troubles, with treatments that use Australian native ingredients and traditional therapies.
- Thala Beach Nature Reserve$$$$$Located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is an eco-friendly lodge sitting within 58 acres of native forest. The idea behind the lodge was to create a place that exists in harmony with its surroundings rather than trying to dominate them. 84 bungalows are dotted throughout the forest canopy, providing guests with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in some of Australia’s most beautiful natural scenery. With smart timber finishes and furnishings, bungalows are spacious and homely, and feature private balconies from where you can gaze out across the eucalyptus trees. The Coral Sea and Sandpiper bungalows look out over the sparkling waters of the ocean, so keep your eyes peeled for Bryde’s whales or a pod of Australian snub fin dolphins Sit down for a meal at Osprey’s Restaurant and enjoy contemporary Australian cuisine alongside panoramic views towards Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at Curlews Lounge and watch as the sky changes colour, birds flitting through the treetops. You can also tuck into a delicious picnic hamper on the decking of your bungalow, or enjoy it anywhere on the grounds of the lodge. There is no better tonic for aching muscles after your island adventures than a session at the spa. The studio provides a myriad of treatments to ensure you leave feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and calm, and there are also two freeform swimming pools with their own waterfalls.
- Riley$$$$$Opened in November 2018, the Riley is an elegant city hotel ideally located on the waterfront in the heart of Cairns. There are 311 rooms and suites with views of either the city skyline or the Coral Sea. Some of the suites feature private balconies, the perfect place to enjoy the views with a morning coffee or glass of wine at the end of the day. Eating is a real treat at Riley. Savour the flavours of the Mediterranean at Rocco, or head east and enjoy modern Asian cuisine at Paper Crane. The fresh healthy menu at Greenfields is perfect for those looking to keep it light – think salads, grain bowls and cold pressed juices. There is an outdoor swimming pool and a spa for when guests want to simply relax and unwind.
- Coconut Grove$$$$$Feel truly at home while you’re on holiday in one of Coconut Grove’s spacious, luxurious apartments. The 33 three-bedroom apartments – terrace, balcony or penthouse – are designed as serene havens where guests can truly relax and treat themselves. Décor is stylish and inspired by the gentle hues of the nearby ocean. Soft natural colours and textures work well with modern furnishings, creating a refined refuge in the centre of Port Douglas. The perfect option if you’re looking for a peaceful escape, the penthouse apartments offer sea and mountain views, as well as a private pool and spa. While the neighbourhood boasts a variety of restaurants, each apartment has its own fully-fitted kitchen, and access to entertainment areas and barbecue facilities, so entertaining is breeze. Cool off in the 20m lap pool, relax in the gardens, or take the short walk down to Four-Mile beach. The nearby Macrossan Street has a variety of shops, day spas and eateries to explore, or enjoy a round of golf in the area.
- Mount Mulligan$$$$$If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track getaway, this remote luxury lodge, set within an expansive outback heritage property in Far North Queensland, is sure to do the trick. This site, which is currently a working cattle station, is home to the old Mount Mulligan township, coal and gold mines, as well as a cemetery. The lodge sits in the shadows of the imposing Mount Mulligan, bounded by a dramatic landscape and enclosed with eucalyptus woodlands. Eight guest rooms, including three suites, can house up to 16 guests, and come with assigned private electric buggies for easy access around the property. Interiors are filled with natural furnishings, such as spotted gum timber cladding, while earthy colour schemes create soothing spaces. Timber-framed glass doors open up onto private decks, deep outdoor baths and utterly spectacular vistas. The main lodge is where dining takes place, and chefs make use of local produce to create innovative dishes that can be enjoyed outside. In-room dining is also available, and if you plan on heading off on a midday adventure, a gourmet picnic hamper can be made up. Some of the activities and excursions on offer are tours of the mine and the township, cattle mustering at the nearby station and paddle boarding or kayaking on the river. Guests with little inclination to venture into the dusty outback can grab a spot by the infinity pool, with a glass of award-winning Australian wine in hand.
- Haggerstone Island$$$$$Flee from the mainland to an utterly isolated and private island resort, fringed by coral reefs and shrouded by jungle, and an undeniable air of magic. The journey to this remote part of the world sets the tone for your stay and entails a private charter from either Cairns or Weipa. Five carefully handcrafted huts are fronted by the beach, with kitchenettes, thatched roofs, driftwood furnishings, and airy open-plan designs. Arched doorways, bare stone or teak floors and gaping windows create a soothing sense of coolness, while earthy tones and textured fabrics add warming pops of colour. Private decks jut out over tropical foliage, while boardwalks lead to open showers, with huddles of palm trees serving as a backdrop. After the sun has dipped behind the ocean, a heavenly feast of freshly caught seafood and produce from the resort’s orchard is served in the main dining room, under the light of flickering candles. Breakfast is a spread of fruit and homemade muesli, with eggs from the free-roaming chickens on the island, and lunch might even feature your own catch from the surrounding waters. Adventure is a promise at this dreamy destination, with jet-skiing, beachcombing, snorkelling, spearfishing and boat excursions, being some popular picks on the menu of experiences. With a whole island at your doorstep, you’re encouraged to take your time to explore the beaches, venture into the jungle, or set off in a helicopter to hover over hidden waterfalls, before concluding with champagne atop a sand dune.
- Bedarra$$$$$Enjoying a stunning location on beautiful Bedarra Island, sat in the pristine waters off the east coast of Australia’s mainland and on the doorstep of the mesmerising Great Barrier Reef, Bedarra presents an idyllic and exclusive escape in the sunshine. The best in barefoot luxury, this tropical haven is hidden amongst 45 hectares of rainforest and has immediate access to the soft white sands and turquoise waters of the reef, all while presenting a choice of spectacular villa accommodation. Guests have a choice of ten luxurious villas to choose from at Bedarra, each hidden amongst the tropical rainforest and blessed by breathtaking views of the ocean, best enjoyed from the private sun terrace area. Almost all of the villas are unique in their structure and decor, with some benefiting from features such as plunge pools and covered outdoor lounges. Open-plan layouts allow plenty of space, while features such as full-length windows bring an abundance of light into the properties, while also allowing guests to make the most of the expansive and scenic views. Inside, guests will benefit from a range of modern conveniences, including the likes of an LED TVs, an iPods and an espresso machine. The sheer beauty of the location ensures that any time spent here is one of relaxation and rejuvenation, and when it comes to a bit of indulgence, you’ll be well covered by the dining on offer. The open terrace restaurant, bar and lounge amount to a social hub at Bedarra, where the former offers an ever-changing daily menu, which is inspired by the idyllic location and the freshest local produce. The atmospheric bar is the perfect place to unwind before dinner, with its pre-dinner cocktail sessions and social layout, while a quieter experience can be had in Bedarra’s lounge area, adorned with a range of books and board games. The beach and surrounding coast present a range of activities for those looking to get active and adventurous during their stay, but for those just seeking serenity, a range of massages and spa treatments can be enjoyed courtesy of a beachfront massage pavilion.