Private islands, decadent spas and next-level residences surrounded by the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef make The Whitsundays an ideal destination for any romantic getaway. Whether you’d rather lounge by the pool with cocktails in hand or explore one of nature’s most spectacular gems via helicopter, this glittering patch of islands just off the coast of Queensland are replete with ways to up the luxury ante. Here’s our pick of the most indulgent stays in The Whitsundays.
Qualia’s 60 private pavilions are nestled on the northernmost point of Hamilton Island, each oriented to deliver panoramic ocean views, with the extra-luxurious Windward Pavilions complete with their own private plunge pool. Zip around the isle on an electric golf buggy, glide across crystal waters on a stand-up paddleboard at Catseye Beach, or unwind with a 3-hour Whitsunday Escape ritual at Spa qualia (think full body massage and mud wrap, heat therapy and a hydrating facial). You can also treat your tastebuds, with a rich Moreton Bay Bug risotto at the waterfront Bommie restaurant. In the mood for a little more action? Tee up at the Hamilton Island Golf Course on neighbouring Dent Island and put your skills to the test over 18 holes with the Great Barrier Reef as your backdrop.
Daydream Island Resort & Living Reef2/6
Coiled around the heart of this resort is a 200-metre-long man-made coral reef teeming with stingrays, rainbows of fish and small sharks, all under the watchful eyes of marine biologists who lead feeding sessions and guided snorkel tours through the lagoon. Each of Daydream Island Resort’s 240 rooms and suites are styled with a calm coastal-inspired palette, overlooking the gardens, ocean or pool. Hit up the spa for a volcanic hot-stone massage or reset your mind with a guided meditation session and, if you’ve brought the little ones along, the Cockatoo Club offers treasure hunts and beachsports for kids aged 4-12.
Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort3/6
Of the 182 rooms, suites and villas at InterContinental Hayman Island, the crown jewels are its four spectacular two-storey residences that sit on the hillside (a 10-minute golf buggy ride away from the rest of the resort). From these secluded villas, which come with their own dedicated concierge service, guests can enjoy panoramic views over The Whitsundays. For the ultimate daytrip, embark on the Best of Both Worlds experience and you’ll be flown by helicopter over Heart Reef – which has been nicknamed the “Proposal Capital of Australia” – before touching down at Reefworld, a pontoon moored on Hardy Reef, perfectly poised for snorkelling through the coral gardens below. The tour concludes with sparkling wine on the pearly sands of Whitehaven beach, one of the most beautiful shores on the planet. Back at the resort, you’ll have five restaurants to choose from (pro tip: there’s a seafood buffet every Friday evening) and the decadent Hayman spa where full-body pampering beckons.
Elysian Luxury Eco Island Retreat4/6
Your idyllic holiday begins moments before you even set foot on Long Island’s white-sand shores – as you’re whisked away by helicopter from Hamilton Island for a quick flight over the sparkling reef below. There are just 10 villas at this all-inclusive adult-only stay, each looking out to the ocean, mere steps from the water. Salute the sun with an early morning yoga class before pampering your body with an Ayurvedic massage and Himalayan scrub at the spa. Then, pick up a picnic basket and head to The Whitsundays (by chopper, of course) to soak up the sun on Whitehaven beach.
Moored over the Hardy Reef, this 540-square-metre pontoon has 12 luxurious swags resting on the deck offering a unique sleep-under-the-stars experience. The two Reefsuites below guarantee waking up to the tranquil sight of fish and turtles darting past your window in Australia’s only underwater stay on the Great Barrier Reef. If you can tear yourself away from admiring the marine wonders from your king-sized bed, you can get even closer to the sealife on a guided snorkelling excursion or plunge into the depths on a scuba-diving expedition. Meals, drinks and arrival via a cruise through The Whitsundays are all included in the ticket and there’s no better way to toast the sunset than over a fresh seafood dinner under the stars.