Nine Luxury Experiences in Tropical North Queensland That Are Also Environmentally Responsible
May 25, 2022
Head north for an eco-friendly escape that doesn't skimp on luxury.
Tropical North Queensland boasts a plethora of places to eat, stay and play that are both luxurious and environmentally responsible, from carbon-offset reef trips to secluded island stays.
To help you plan your escape, we’ve teamed up with Tourism Tropical North Queensland to show you how you can have a luxury escape like no other in the north. So, submit your annual leave request and get ready to make plans for an unforgettable tropical holiday.
For beachfront dining: Nu Nu
If you’re looking for beachfront dining (and why wouldn’t you be?), Palm Cove’s Nu Nu Restaurant is a must. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu boasts a great selection of dishes that embrace locally grown produce. For brekkie, try the crab omelette with a zingy ginger caramel and white pepper broth or Nu Nu’s take on bircher featuring pineapple and coconut cream-soaked muesli topped with mango, tropical fruit and toasted coconut. If you stop by for lunch or dinner, start with the vanilla ginger mojito with Daintree vanilla sugar and a starter of Pacific oysters with finger lime. Then, follow it up with sake-poached octopus with pickled shiitake and spring onion oil or sugarcane-smoked duck with barbecued cabbage and rhubarb.
For native flavours: Ochre
Native ingredients take centre stage at Ochre, a Cairns institution that has been impressing diners with its creative cuisine for almost 30 years. Tuck into signature dishes like salt and native pepper leaf prawn and crocodile with Vietnamese pickle and lemon aspen sambal; char-grilled kangaroo sirloin with sweet potato fritter, bok choy and a quandong and chilli sauce; and wattleseed pavlova with davidson plum sorbet and macadamia biscotti. The dedication to local is also showcased via the drinks offering, which includes an exclusively Australian wine list with over 30 available by the glass, as well as an impressive selection of Australian spirits.
For locally sourced produce: Crystalbrook Collection
Want to eat seasonally on your next trip away? If you’re planning a trip to the tropics, hit this list to find the finest local produce that’s in season. Spoiler alert: there’s plenty grown up in this part of the world. If you dine at a Crystalbrook Collection venue, you can even find out how sustainable your food is via its new Climate Calorie concept. The hotel group has labelled its menus to tell you when your food is locally sourced, supplied in eco-friendly packaging, whether or not First Nations People were consulted in the food production and more.
For a secluded island escape: Bedarra
If you’re looking for somewhere to truly disappear to, put Bedarra Island at the top of your list. With just 11 private villas on the island (all with ocean views), Bedarra is ideal for travellers looking for secluded, laidback luxury. 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. The best part? The island is totally off-grid and uses solar power for energy.
For a rainforest retreat: The Canopy Treehouses
If you’re planning a tropical holiday with a group, look no further than The Canopy Treehouses. Set on 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.
For the rainforest and the beach: Thala Beach Nature Reserve
For those who love the finer things as much as they love nature, there’s Thala Beach Nature Reserve. But the resort is more than a private beach and spa treatments — it’s a leader in ecotourism, too. After a rigorous vetting process in 2018, it was handpicked for membership of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World as well as being awarded Green Travel Leader with Ecotourism Australia after meeting strict criteria for a decade. Throughout the site you can enjoy complimentary wildlife walks, stargazing by the sea, expert-guided flora and fauna explorations, and Australia’s only coconut tour. Dine on seasonal local produce in the treetops at Ospreys Restaurant with the sights and sounds of nature as entertainment. Or, grab a gourmet picnic basket and head into the nature reserve. The eco-resort is your oyster.
For a castle in the rainforest: Paronella Park
In the 1930s Spanish pastry chef Jose Paronella moved to Tropical North Queensland to build a castle in the rainforest complete with luxuries such as a tennis court, movie theatre and a glittering ballroom. Almost a century later, Paronella Park has taken on a dreamlike quality with a soft layer of bright green moss coating the castle. Explore the sprawling parkland via a 30-minute guided tour filled with wildlife spotting, fish feeding and a historical storytelling of the park. Your entry fee helps fund the continued restoration of this heritage-listed site and is valid for two years so you can experience the magic time and time again.
For sunset sailing: Sailaway
If you’re visiting the reef from Port Douglas, consider a trip with Sailaway. The full-day tour with a qualified marine biologist is a top-tier way to appreciate the wonders beneath the shimmering blue waves. The company donates $20 from every passenger’s ticket to its reforestation and carbon offsetting project. Want to turn up the luxury even more? Book in for a sunset sailing trip to soak up the sights of a Coral Sea sunset from back of a catamaran.
For a carbon offset reef trip: Passions of Paradise
Set out on a catamaran from Cairns with the award-winning Passions of Paradise and take a tour with a team that is dedicated to eco-friendly explorations. The snorkelling gear is included, so you can get up close to turtles, fish and all the coral-dwelling creatures of the reef with ease before relaxing on board with a buffet lunch. The best bit? Passions of Paradise work with researchers to help grow coral through the Coral Nurturing Program and offset carbon emissions by planting trees in the Daintree.
Ready for a holiday in Tropical North Queensland that exudes eco-luxury? For more information, visit the website.
Images: Tourism Tropical North Queensland.