●Bedarra Island – 011-61-2-9277-5050 or 800-225-9849; bedarraisland.com; 16 villas; small beach.
●Haggerstone Island Guest House – 011-61-740-603413; haggerstoneisland.com; private retreat off largely uninhabited Cape York stretch; to get there, take flight to Cairns (Queensland), then to Hicks Island, then 20 minute drive to boat that crosses to island; 4 cottages; basic stuff (no AC, television, or electricity after bed time); excellent chefs prepare meals.
●Qualia – among Whitsunday Islands; 011-61-2-9433-3349; qualia.com.au; secluded resort tucked away from throng of Hamilton Island with calm, contemporary spa; excellent food.
●Woodwark Bay – 212-213-6435; woodwarkbay.com.au; 4K acre estate surrounded by 50K acres parkland, just across Whitsunday Passage from Hayman Island.
●Heron – 011-61-2-8296-8010; heronisland.com; home to 6 of 7 extant species of marine turtle; January through May is when hatchlings burst from eggs and flap from beach to sea; some of world’s best reef diving; true coral cay surrounded by reef.
●Southern Ocean Lodge – Hanson Bay; 011-61-2-9918-4355; southernoceanlodge.com.au; 21 spacious suites cascade down ragged cliff face overlooking remote Hanson Bay; outfitted with limestone floors, artwork by island artisans, and outdoor terraces complete with daybeds.
LADY ELLIOT ISLAND
●Lady Elliot Island Resort – 011-61-7-5536-3644; ladyelliot.com.au; home to 6 of 7 extant species of marine turtle; January through May is when hatchlings burst from eggs and flap from beach to sea.
●24 spectacular beaches; premier dive spots.
●Voyages Lizard Island – 011-61-2-8296-8010; voyages.com.au; eucalyptus trees surround accommodations outfitted with pine furnishings; rooms look over Coral Sea; spectacular views; with 24 beaches fringing Great Barrier Reef, and accommodations for just 40 couples, Lizard Island resort in category all its own; open-plan suites done up in blues and whites, with hammocks and sundecks discreetly hidden from view; sunset cruises, torchlit beach dinners for 2.
Sights & Sites
●Watsons Bay – sydney.com.au/watsons-bay.htm; more affordable, outdoor camping.
LORD HOWE ISLAND
●1 of only 4 island groups with World Heritage Site status, nesting ground for seabirds.
●Arajilla Retreat – Old Settlement Beach; 011-61-7-4125-4922; lordhowe.com.au/; nestled under Kentia Palms and Banyan Trees canopy, just minutes from beach; spacious suites, renowned restaurant, and day spa; bushwalk, swim, dive, fish, cycle around island, play golf, lie on deserted beach, enjoy massage, savor fine food and wine, sleep in or simply take afternoon nap.
●Capella Lodge – 011-61-2-9918-4355; lordhowe.com; spa; gorgeous; on island’s secluded southern end; perched dramatically above picturesque Lover’s Bay; only accommodation on stunning subtropical island that commands spectacular ocean, lagoon, and mountain views; hosts no more than 20 guests; premium boutique accommodation; understated elegance that attracts discerning guests; stylish and sophisticated escape; contemporary Australian cuisine, personal service, endless activity options and intimate surroundings.
●Pinetrees – Lord Howe Island; 011-61-2-9262-6585; pinetrees.com.au; bicycles available for guests.
●Arajilla – Old Settlement Beach; 011-61-7-4125-4922; Asian-fusion.
●Humpty Mick’s Café – Ned’s Beach Road; 011-61-2-6563-2155; in town.
Sights & Sites
●Blinky’s Bay – pretty swimming spot.
●Lord Howe Island Museum – 011-61-2-6563-2111; terrific displays on island’s evolution.
●Mount Gower – 2.8K' high with hiking trails.
●Ned’s Beach – snorkeling.
●Orpheus Island Resort – Orpheus Island 4810; orpheus.com.au; 60-minute puddle jump from Cairns; no children, telephones, or television.
●Around Bend – drift dive; popular manta cleaning station; culminates over coral grotto; often 10-70 coral reef sharks present at once.
●Acropolis – lush plateau thick with hard corals; plentiful colorful fish.
●Challenger Bay – between Ribbon Reefs #9 and #10; extensive hard coral fields, intertwined by sandy gullies and peppered with garden eels, stingrays, and white tip reef sharks; starts at 5m below, running with gentle slope down to sandy bottom at 20m; also clown trigger fish, barracuda, red bass, sweet-lips, giant trevally, hunting lion fish, marbled moray eels, pufferfish, parrotfish, banded cleaner shrimps, nudibranchs, staghorn, burrowing sea cucumber, and batfish; also, between May and August, approachable and curious Minke whales.
●Cod Hole – friendly “potato cod” that give site its name are friendly and huge.
●Lighthouse Bommie – during summer months, this pinnacle popular with migrating minke whales.
●Snake Pit – isolated reef patch home to olive sea snakes.
●Steve’s Bommie – pinnacle that rises from deep to very near surface; abundant corals and marine life, including frogfish, leaf scorpionfish, and stonefish.
Sights & Sites
●Yongala Wreck – 55 miles southeast; coral-encrusted steamship; sank in 1911 with all hands; today, biological wonder, awash in barracuda, eagle rays, giant Queensland groupers, and sea snakes.
●Whitehaven Beach – Whitsunday Island; accessible by boat from mainland ports Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour, as well as Hamilton Island; more than 4 miles brilliant white sand beach; Australia’s “cleanest beach.”