On the north-western side of Lizard Island (which is also a national park), you’ll find the 40-room Lizard Island resort – the ultimate “red carpet meets palm tree” experience.
To get to Lizard Island you board a 19-seat charter flight in Cairns and fly 240 kilometres across translucent blue-green ocean to one of the most remote spots on the Great Barrier Reef.
Described as a “red carpet meets palm tree” experience, the resort was given a $50-million makeover after it was damaged by cyclones in 2014. One of the first resorts in the world to be certified an eco-lodge, the luxury resort is understated but stylish.
Best of all, though, you can literally wade into the water from the beach directly in front of the resort and in minutes be snorkelling above one of the most remarkable parts of the reef. Within easy reach of the resort is the Clam Gardens in Watsons Bay, where giant clams measuring up to two metres long live among hard and soft corals. Or ask to be dropped off at one of the island’s 24 powdery, white private beaches with a gourmet picnic and spend an afternoon spotting iridescent fish amid a forest of bright coral and pulsating sea anemone.
Back on land, you could visit the island’s research station where scientists from the Australian Museum study the reef. Or order a glass of crisp white wine and watch the large monitor lizards that give the island its name make their slow passage across the resort’s lawn.