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The Best Great Barrier Reef Lodges in 2023

BLOG | The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s most enduring icons and a popular tropical holiday escape for visitors to Australia in 2023.
Two guests splashing into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

Located off the coast of Queensland, this natural wonder is made up of over 2,900 individual reef systems and 900 islands. Its sheer size and natural beauty invites guests to relax, play, and explore its sparkling crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. This also makes the Great Barrier Reef the perfect spot for a diverse range of luxury accommodation, each showcasing their own unique flora, fauna, and aquatic landscapes.

Ranging from five-star luxury lodges and resorts to adventurous eco-retreats scattered throughout the region, the Great Barrier Reef invites you to explore and relax in style while surrounded by one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Explore our six favourite lodges on the Great Barrier Reef.

Aerial of Haggerstone Island rustic jetty.

1. Haggerstone Island

At a Glance: An experiential private island known for its Robinson Crusoe style and outdoor adventure.

Found close to the most northern tip of Australia and offering a quintessential castaway island experience, Haggerstone Island is a bucket list item for those seeking a barefoot luxury adventure and an unconventional five-star escape. Haggerstone is nestled amongst nature at its most pristine, with five generous, open-plan and secluded villas each coming with its own private deck, tropical garden, and breathtaking views, available on an individual basis or as a whole island buyout for just you and your travel companions.

Adventure abounds amongst this island’s 100 acres. Guests are invited to explore the island’s lush rainforest and sandy beaches, dive and snorkel amongst turtles and vibrant marine life, enjoy thrilling spearfishing in untouched estuaries and blue water fishing upon waters teeming with life, and uncover hidden pockets of nature via charter helicopter, foot, or kiteboard.

Two people on stand-up-paddleboards at Lizard Island.

2. Lizard Island

At a Glance: Leading five-star luxury lodge of Australia resting right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef.

One of Australia’s most esteemed luxury resorts, Lizard Island is the northern-most accommodation on the Great Barrier Reef, set amongst 2,470 acres of National Park with the shores of the Great Barrier Reef lapping right at the doorstep of the resort’s forty rooms and suites. Private beaches are scattered amongst its expanses, leading you into the sparkling waters of the remote Great Barrier Reef and its kaleidoscope of aquatic life in clear waters.

Offering a five-star luxury escape, Lizard Island’s staff are on-hand to assist with inspiring you into aquatic or beach adventures, or helping with whatever else you may desire. Guests will find themselves picnicking on a private beach, dining on the daily-changing, chef-prepared menu, getting pampered at the Day Spa, diving or fishing in the Coral Sea’s bounty, booking personalised yacht charters to the outer reefs, or simply relaxing in Lizard’s opulent rooms and suites.

Aerial of Orpheus Island beach and ocean from helicopter.

3. Orpheus Island Lodge

At a Glance: Just fourteen suites are available on this all-inclusive and eco-sustainable Great Barrier Reef experience, resting upon 11 kilometres of turquoise coastline with fringing reef.

Part of the Northern Escape Collection, Orpheus Island Lodge is an exquisite tropical island hideaway and the sole property on its namesake island. Offering immaculate turquoise coastline alongside pristine National Park, this lodge is only accessible via helicopter and invites just 28 guests to slip into island bliss.

Orpheus Island’s snorkelling, fine dining, first-rate staff and attractions will inspire guests to explore when not simply relaxing. Unique experiences include walking through mangrove systems, the intimate and iconic Dining with the Tides degustation experience, and visits to the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) designed to provoke thought about the reef, conservation, and the culture of the regions’ First Nations people.

Views of Whitsundays from qualia’s main lounge.

4. qualia

At a Glance: A five-star adults-only retreat on Hamilton Island, known for its immersive experiences and panoramic views of the Whitsundays.

Nestled on the northern end of Hamilton Island in the lush Whitsundays, qualia is a tropical holiday oasis offering a panorama of blue and green from every angle. Hamilton Island is renowned for its easy-going, welcoming and accessible nature, and qualia is Hamilton Island’s most northern resort complete with its own private beach leading straight onto the Coral Sea.

Renowned for being private, self-indulgent and with staff catering to your every whim, no expense has been spared for guests’ stay. Discover a curated range of activities within qualia’s confines, discover the offerings further south on Hamilton Island, or venture out into the Coral Sea to discover the Great Barrier Reef’s charms, before dipping into your own private plunge pool and settling in for exquisite dinners in the evening.

Aerial of InterContinental Hayman Island resort.

5. InterContinental Hayman Island

At a Glance: One of Australia’s original and most esteemed glamorous resorts offering an immersive luxury stay on the most northern point of the Whitsunday archipelago.

Accessible by luxury vessel or helicopter transfers, InterContinental Hayman Island is an esteemed resort in the renowned InterContinental collection. This resort offers a lavish stay across 168 guest rooms, suites and villas across three wings with their own distinct themes and views. With spectacular swimming pools, panoramic seascapes, and tropical rainforest gardens to discover, this resort is suitable for honeymoon escapes and family-friendly vacations alike.

Commanding magnificent views across the Coral Sea, this private island’s over 700 acres include bushland with hiking trails and a two-kilometre crescent-shaped stretch of a stunning white sand beach leading into waters perfect for snorkelling. When you’re done adventuring for the day, Hayman’s five distinct restaurants and bars with destination-inspired private dining options and on-site spa invite you to indulge.

Aerial of Elysian Retreat beachfront villas and main lodge.

6. Elysian Retreat

At a Glance: The Whitsunday’s rustic rainforest eco-retreat with personalised service, catering to just twenty adults at a time.

An adults-only retreat on the southern Whitsundays and the first solar-powered resort on the Reef, Elysian Retreat is a secluded and boutique eco-island experience catering to a maximum of twenty adult guests. Elysian Retreat treats its guests like VIPs with personalised service, gourmet meals, curated wellness activities, and uninterrupted views of rainforest, beach, and Conway National Park.

The activities of this rustically chic escape invite you to unplug and unwind. Don your reef shoes and snorkel off the tidal beach, unwind around the fire pit with a sundowner in hand, wander through rainforest, and indulge with a daily-changing menu in the region’s Tropical Food Bowl with freshly-caught seafood and organic vegetables sourced locally from the region and the property’s own vegetable and herb garden.

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