Guide to Lizard Island
This remote Great Barrier Reef island delivers the ultimate in barefoot luxury.
By Sheriden Rhodes
It doesn’t get much better than the far flung Lizard Island, where the spectacular Great Barrier Reef collides with barefoot luxury at the island's eponymously-named five-star retreat, Lizard Island Resort. Actress Kate Hudson famously referred to Lizard Island as “the most romantic place on earth”.
- Enjoy five-star luxury at a private island resort
- Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef just steps from the white sandy shore
- Dine on superb modern Australian cuisine by chef Mark Jensen
How to get there
Lizard Island lies 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Cairns and 27 kilometres (17 miles) off the coast of northern Queensland. There are direct flights to Cairns from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Gold Coast and Townsville. From Cairns, East Air operates up to two 60-minute flights a day to Lizard Island, booked through Lizard Island. Private transfers are organised by Lizard Island between Cairns International Airport and East Air. The flight soars above the only place in the world where two World Heritage-listed sites meet – the reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest. Keep your camera handy.
Things to do and top attractions on Lizard Island
Start your day with a pre-breakfast swim
Lizard’s astonishing natural beauty – enveloped by fringing reefs and a turquoise lagoon – is matched by the resort's 40 luxury villas located mere steps from the beach. One of the best ways to start your day at Lizard Island Resort is by slipping out of bed and into the water for a glorious pre-breakfast swim. Follow the refreshing dip with indulgent à la carte meals and sunset drinks at the Driftwood Bar, where guests gather to share the day’s adventures before dinner. In between, spend your time exploring Lizard’s languid waters; this is the only island resort where guests can simply wade into the water and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.
Enjoy the best of modern Australian cuisine
Executive chef Mark Jensen delivers an impressive menu of modern Australian cuisine with a distinct South East Asian twist at the resort's Salt Water Restaurant. The menu revolves around simple dishes sourced as locally as possible, with a focus on fresh seafood. Most produce comes from Far North Queensland. Standout dishes include the coral trout fish cakes, melt in the mouth Asian beef cheek, or the stunningly simple seared black kingfish. Dishes are paired with wines hand selected for the resort by Australian sommelier and wine critic Jeremy Oliver.
Have a picnic on a private beach
The island offers 24 white sand beaches, meaning you can easily find yourself “marooned” on your own private patch of paradise. Staff will even pack you a picnic hamper and offer a motorised dinghy, so you can set off on your own private exploration above and below the Coral Sea. Alternatively, they will take you to whichever beach you would prefer and return to pick you up when it suits you.
Dive or snorkel at one of the world's best dive sites
Go for a dive at the Cod Hole, a reef-encircled sand patch renowned for its huge, but friendly, potato cod. It’s considered one of the world’s top 10 dive sites, not only for the friendly fish, some of which are up to 60 years old, but for the particularly spectacular array of soft and hard corals in bright technicolour. Cod Hole is located roughly an hour's boat ride from Lizard Island, and its remoteness contributes to its beauty.
Climb to the top of the island
Take a self-guided hike to Cook’s Look, which British explorer Captain James Cook climbed in 1770 in search of safe passage. On the climb to the 360-metre (1181-feet) pinnacle, take in impressive views of Watsons Bay, the outer reef and across the entire island. At the top, don't forget to sign your name in the log book.