Ten Luxury Stays in Tropical North Queensland Where You'll Wake up Immersed in Paradise
Ever wanted to sleep in the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest or see the ocean from your bed? Now's your chance.
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To say 2021 has been a massive year is a bit of an understatement. But with the end in sight, it's officially time to let go of the trials that the year has brought us and start sorting out summer holiday plans. If you, like us, are keen to spend summer someplace extra special this year, consider locking in a trip to Tropical North Queensland to enjoy some much-needed time in paradise.
From private island retreats wreathed with the Great Barrier Reef to secluded treehouses poised in World Heritage-listed rainforest, we've uncovered ten luxury stays to check out. These spots are not only champions of ecotourism, with initiatives like water recycling and single-use plastic and amenities bans evident across most properties, but will also tick the box if you want to wake up immersed in nature this summer.
If you're looking for somewhere to truly disappear this summer, put Bedarra Island at the top of your list. The secluded tropical haven is part of the Family Islands National Park, approximately two hours drive south of Cairns. To get there, you can take a helicopter transfer from Cairns Airport or a 30-minute boat ride across the Coral Sea from the idyllic coastal village, Mission Beach. With just eleven private villas on the island (all with ocean views), Bedarra is ideal for travellers looking for secluded, laidback luxury. The island is totally off-grid and uses solar power for energy.
The best part? It's an all-inclusive experience. Here, you'll have unlimited access to snorkelling gear, sea kayaks, motorised dinghies, stand-up paddleboards, tennis equipment and stunning rainforest walks. Plus, all your meals, snacks, cocktails and celebratory champagne will be organised for you. Want to take a gourmet picnic on your personal dinghy to a deserted island? How about enjoying a candlelit dinner on your private deck? At Bedarra, you can have both.
SILKY OAKS LODGE
If you've ever wondered what it's like to live in a treehouse, just like Brendan Fraser in George of the Jungle, Silky Oaks Lodge in Mossman is the place to bring that foliage fantasy to life. Wedged between the breathtaking Daintree Rainforest and peaceful Mossman River, Silky Oaks Lodge has six treehouse-inspired stays to choose from so you can sleep among the treetops of the tropics.
Each accomodation option has been designed to embrace the property's natural surrounds and will indulge your senses in the lush rainforest that truly thrives in summer. If you want to wash off under an outdoor shower, wake up to floor-to-ceiling rainforest views and relax in a bath on your very own private deck while overlooking a cascading river, look sharp to Silky Oaks Lodge. The luxury ecolodge is currently closed for refurbishments and is due to reopen on December 15, 2021.
THE REEF HOUSE BOUTIQUE HOTEL AND SPA
If spending your summer holiday lazing opposite a palm tree-lined beach sounds like something you have to go overseas to do, guess again. The Reef House Boutique Hotel and Spa is an award-winning luxury beachfront stay in Palm Cove where you can experience that balmy (and palmy) escape without needing to dig out your now dusty passport.
Your stay here includes a drink on arrival, complimentary twilight refreshments, poolside cocktail service and access to the fully stocked Honesty Bar where you can help yourself to your favourite drinks. There are also cocktail classes, wine tasting, beachfront yoga, an adults-only tranquility pool, jacuzzi, day spa, unlimited bicycle use and a library to keep you occupied in case you get tired of oscillating between relaxing by the pool and dining at the impressive Reef House Restaurant.
THE CANOPY TREEHOUSES
If you're spending the summer holidays with a group of friends or family, look no further than The Canopy Treehouses to house your tropical getaway. Set among a lush 100-acre property, this place is ideal if you want to steer clear of other holidaymakers as you venture — quite literally — off the beaten track.
The two-bedroom Riverfront Treehouses sleep six guests and, as the name suggests, are built on the banks of the river surrounded by ancient rainforest. Or, if you're after something a little larger, the three-bedroom Bower House can accommodate up to eight guests and overlooks the rollings hills of the Atherton Tablelands. Both are fully self-contained and come equipped with barbecue facilities, spa baths and, most importantly, rainforest views.
LIZARD ISLAND RESORT
If you want to see the Great Barrier Reef without spending hours on a boat, Lizard Island Resort is the ideal place to base yourself. This luxury lodge is quite literally surrounded by the reef meaning you can roll out of bed and right into one of the world's natural wonders in minutes. But it's not just its proximity to the reef that lures people to the island.
The all-inclusive accomodation helps take the guesswork out of holiday planning with meals, drinks, snorkelling gear, paddleboards, sea kayaks and more included in your stay. The toughest choice you'll make during your trip will be deciding which of the opulent day spa treatments will make you feel the most relaxed. If you do want to explore a little further, the resort has an onsite naturalist that hosts guided walks to share the island's cultural heritage, particularly that of the Traditional Land Owners, Jiogurru of the Dingaal Aboriginal people.
If you want floor to ceiling ocean views at a centrally-located hotel, Crystalbrook Riley is for you. This five-star luxury resort is perched on the Cairns Esplanade, placing you in walking distance of many of the tour operators, restaurants and bars that Cairns has to offer.
For a picturesque waterfront wake up, check in to a Panoramic Sea room or Riley's Suite and you'll awaken to uninterrupted views of the Coral Sea and beyond. There's a lush pool that wraps around the entire resort, a day spa to destress at and two in-house restaurants to try — Paper Crane and rooftop bar Rocco. The resort makes an effort to reduce food miles by sourcing 80-percent of ingredients from within a 3.5-hour radius of Cairns, including all of its beef products which come from Crystalbrook's own 85,000-acre cattle station.
MT MULLIGAN LODGE
When you think of Tropical North Queensland, the outback probably doesn't come to mind. But if you drive 160 kilometres northwest of Cairns to Mt Mulligan Lodge, that's exactly what you'll find. As the name suggests, this boutique accomodation overlooks the immense tabletop mountain that is Mount Mulligan.
Here, you can experience an all-inclusive luxury outback stay featuring hikes, all-terrain vehicle adventures, barramundi fishing, stargazing and more. The sprawling 28,000-hectare property ensures all 20 guests it can accommodate have ample privacy during their stay. Plus, each guest room gets a buggy to buzz around the property on, so you can get from your bed to sunset drinks at the bar with ease. Mt Mulligan Lodge has lots of worthy initiatives in place, too, from a waste minimisation program to a partnership with Ganbina to help local Indigenous students secure employment after school.
NIRAMAYA VILLAS AND SPA
Port Douglas is a favourite for folks travelling to Tropical North Queensland. If you want to find out what all the fuss is about, take a scenic one-hour drive north of Cairns and stay at Niramaya Villas and Spa to experience Port Douglas for yourself.
This luxury accommodation features a number of rooms that vary in size from couple-friendly one-bedroom villas to much larger options that can cater to groups of ten. Regardless of the size you need, the soaring ceilings will make you feel like rainforest royalty. Throughout the property, you'll have access to a fully equipped gym, day spa, tennis court, bike hire, saunas, pools and a restaurant and bar to keep you refreshed.
Situated in the heart of the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, about 90 minutes north of Cairns, is Daintree Ecolodge — boutique accommodation with just 15 bayans (treehouses) perched beneath lush tropical canopies. For the adventurous traveller, this secluded rainforest retreat has its own dedicated walks and a private waterfall to explore. And for those needing something more relaxing, the on-site bar, swimming pool, wellness spa and rainforest restaurant overlooking the lagoon will provide ample opportunity to unwind and disconnect.
If you want to discover more about the First Nations people in the area — the Kuku Yalanji people — book into the Culturally Curious package which includes your accommodation, a full day Walkabout Cultural Tour, a Daintree River cruise and more. The property also assists in the reforestation of the area through a partnership with Rainforest Rescue.
MT QUINCAN CRATER RETREAT
If you're seeking somewhere romantic for your summer holiday, check out the couples-only luxury accommodation on offer at Mt Quincan Crater Retreat. Elevated 25oo feet above sea level on the edge of an extinct volcano in the Atherton Tablelands, this award-winning escape boasts breathtaking views that look over the volcanic crater and beyond.
Each treehouse has its own private spa that captures these vistas and some even have an al fresco shower for you to enjoy under the stars. Plus, there are in-room dining options available for fuss-free cook ups and tailored packages to help you celebrate special occasions.
Ready to book your tropical escape? For more information and to discover more about a summer holiday in Tropical North Queensland, visit the website.
Image: Lizard Island, Tourism Tropical North Queensland
Published on October 18, 2021 by Courtney Ammenhauser