It’s pretty clear when your chef can name the fisherman who has caught your dinner on the outer reef, that you’re in for a superb meal. And it’s obvious when your experienced snorkelling guide promises to take you to her favourite coral garden, it’s going to be pretty magical. In fact, you know as soon as the helicopter touches down on Orpheus Island, that you’re in for a very special experience. Whether you’re exploring by kayak, taking a picnic and heading out in a dinghy, or relaxing by the infinity pool with a glass of bubbles in hand, this tiny piece of paradise off the north Queensland coast will make you want to stay forever.
Orpheus Island is off the coast of North Queensland, accessible only by helicopter or private boat. The helicopter from Townsville will set you back $700 per person.
The wow factor starts from the moment you board the helicopter in Townsville and glide over the Palm group, looking out for manta ray among the coral-fringed islands. The resort itself, discreetly tucked into the coastline of Orpheus Island is Instaworthy from every angle. It loses its gloss a little when the tide goes out, but it more than makes up for it when the bay is glistening and green, a haven for turtles and lemon sharks.
The Island accommodates just 28 guests, in laid-back costal luxe rooms and villas, spread out along the palm-fringed beach. The mini bar is packed with complimentary drinks and healthy snacks.
Stuff to do
Each day several different activities are offered to guests, ranging from snorkelling at one of the spectacular local reefs, to yoga and beer tasting. If it’s not too windy, there’s also the option to take a picnic and a dinghy, and explore on your own. If you want to stay closer to the resort, you can take out a paddle board and look for turtles, or kayak to the giant clam garden in the neighbouring bay. You could also just sit around the infinity pool and enjoy the all-inclusive hospitality!
The highlight for me is a snorkelling trip to Curacao Island, a 20- minute boat ride away. We’re on the Barrier Reef here, so stunning coral gardens are never far away, but these really are special. Huge plate and staghorn coral, parrot fish, turtles and schools of brightly coloured tropical fish. The resort fits you for a mask, fins and wetsuit before you go out. This might be the tropics but it can get chilly in the water when you’re snorkelling for 45 minutes.
Everything is first class – the meals, the rooms, the excursions. This really is an amazing place to visit. Three days is not enough!
Flying back to Townsville over the reef, I’m reminded just how lucky I am to live in Queensland, and to have all of this on our doorstep.