Australia Great Barrier Reef & Lizard Island

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The Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s best-known natural landmark, is a series of superlatives. For starters, this is the largest expanse of coral reef in the world, over 1,200 miles long. Within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (official name), there are over 900 islands and 3,000+ individual reefs. The abundance of marine life is mind boggling – 1,500 different species of fish, 400 kinds of coral, and so much more. The reef runs from the central Australian coast, all the way up to New Guinea. You can get a taste of the reef by taking a ‘day trip’ from, say,  Cairns or Townsville, but  — nothing compares to actually staying on the reef itself.

Of all the resorts near and on the reef, Lizard Island (a Signature partner property and member of Luxury Lodges of Australia) is THE premier property, for many reasons. The resort is located NE of Cairns, and shares the island with a National Park of the same name, that covers 90% of the landscape.  The entire island is about 7 square miles/10 sq. km.

Here are top 10 reasons to stay here:

  • Lizard Island is ON the Great Barrier Reef, so you can either snorkel/dive right off the property’s beaches, or reach the outer reefs in under 30/45 minutes’ time.
  • The island offers twenty four, beautiful white sand beaches to choose from. Note –  Lizard Island’s beaches are top drawer.
  • The property is intimate, with only 40 rooms and suites, yet it has all the facilities of a much larger resort – including a swimming pool, tennis courts, and spa.
  • Lizard Island has a great team of 105 professionals looking after the guests. The better than 1:1 staff to guest ratio ensures service level is very high.
  • The resort is all inclusive –your room, meals, beverages, wine and spirits, picnics at the island’s beaches, mini bar, non-motorized watersports, snorkel gear, stinger suits (when necessary) – all included in the nightly rate.
  • Lizard island offers 7 types of rooms and suites, starting with the garden view rooms (offering 500 sq. ft of space)  and going all the way up to the villa & pavilion, the largest room categories on property. The Villa is the only category with 2 bedrooms, accommodating up to 5 guests. The most requested room type is the Beachfront suite category, with direct access to Anchor Bay. All rooms have been recently refurbished, have terraces, sitting areas, and plenty of space. Décor is simple, understated, comfortable and serene, with light colors throughout.
  • The menu of activities to choose from daily is unparalleled anywhere else.
  • Dining is memorable. Impressive range of options, the freshness of the ingredients, the quality of the meals. If you are a wine lover, you will be in heaven with the property’s extensive wine cellar.
  • The setting, seclusion, and the  “privilege of place”. You feel as if you were a million miles from civilization – yet – have every creature comfort.
  • Special experiences, below:

Lizard Island: Unique Experiences

Here are some of the favorite included activities on property:

  • Snorkel off the beaches of Lizard Island. Make sure you see the giant clams!
  • Swim with turtles at low tide, on Casuarina Beach. Ask for a beach drop off around 11/11:30am, and follow the turtles as they come into the bay.
  • Zip around in a glass-bottom kayak, looking for parrot fish and other crispy critters floating in the clear waters
  • Try stand up paddle board on Anchor or Sunset Bay
  • Visit the scientists at the National Park’s research station (by appointment only)
  • Be dropped off on a deserted beach with your picnic lunch, umbrellas, chairs
  • Swim in the clear waters of the island beaches
  • Guided snorkel trip, right from the property
  • Hike to the summit of ‘Cook’s Look’, the island’s highest mountain, a demanding 4 hour hike going up to 359mts/1,000+ feet high

In addition, Lizard Island offers additional options which can be purchased a la carte, including:

  • Half day or full day snorkel/dive on the outer reef. The abundance of marine life is amazing, and well worth the journey.
  • Charter the resort’s cruiser, called Fascination, for the day, overnight, or for two nights, and create your own itinerary on the reef

Whatever you do – don’t miss the sunset! Guests on property come out every evening for this all-important occasion.


One last word– Lizard Island is a truly magical, restful, peaceful place. If possible, leave this destination as your last stop in Australia.


Here is some insider advice that will be useful:

Getting here
Lizard Island is about 100 miles/240KM NE of Cairns (CNS) airport. Air service is on East Air, a local carrier. The flight is an experience in and of itself, as you fly low over the reefs. Flight time is about 1 hour. Note: Flights leave from the East Air Private Charter terminal, on the other side of the main passenger terminal. Because of space/weight limitations, you can only carry a total of 25Kg/55 lbs – including your carry on. Baggage should be soft side luggage, to fit everything in the small hold of the aircraft. Leave your larger suitcase with East Air staff, and bring only a soft sided carry on for Lizard Island.  Cost is about AUD$710 Round trip, or $550 USD per person for the air. East air will transfer you from the private air terminal to the main airport on your return from Lizard Is.

Overnighting in Cairns
Chances are, your flights into Cairns will not connect with the two daily flights to Lizard Island. In case you have to overnight, the Shangri-La Cairns is a good option. Centrally located, in the Marina, not far from the airport.

Hot and tropical year-round, as you are North of the Tropic of Capricorn. June-September is high season, with (typically) less rain. December to March is low season, with rain happening at some point of the day. Having said this, every section of the reef has its own weather patterns, and there will be times when it is pouring in Cairns and perfectly nice in Lizard Island.

Excerpts from the Post by Ignacio Maza