The fact that the only way to get to the island is via a scenic helicopter charter over the Coral Sea is the first sign that Orpheus is a little different to most Australian islands. 80 km North of Townsville, this secluded Great Barrier Reef island is covered with lush eucalypt forest, a smattering of palm trees, 11 kilometres of pristine beach and the luxurious Orpheus Island Lodge, accommodating just 28 indulged guests at a time.
Tucked away on the Western side of the island, Orpheus Island Lodge stretches along the tranquil shoreline of Hazard Bay and features luxe casual accommodation starting at $1500 AUD per night. Northern beachfront rooms sit a stone’s throw from the water’s edge with unobstructed views over the bay, while the Southern rooms are tucked away behind a lush tropical garden surrounding a private terrace, so you’ll have to settle for walking a few extra metres from your bed to reach the sand.
The rooms are the epitome of contemporary coastal luxury with a refined, minimalist aesthetic. I stayed in one of the South Suites, an unobtrusive, romantic and contemporary setting that makes it truly easy to unwind and relax. An open-plan layout showcases the soft natural surfaces and designer hand-picked furniture, along with LED TV’s in the lounge and bedroom, a complimentary mini-bar, iPod dock, air conditioning and Li’tya guest amenities. The room also features a spacious ensuite bathroom with a double vanity and irresistible outdoor stone bath.
The resort boasts a stunning infinity pool that sits adjacent to an outdoor bar overlooking the water, as well as a reading room, day spa, and multiple dining and leisure areas. Free wifi is available in the lobby and complimentary daily laundry services can be arranged upon request.
Celebrating a bounty of locally-sourced, wholesome and freshly caught and grown seasonal delights, Orpheus offers a gourmet, daily-changing and personalised menu. Recently appointed head chef Daniel Main makes a point to meet every guest upon arrival to chat about personal preferences and allergies so that each dish appeals to the unique tastes of every guest. Accommodation rates are inclusive of all meals and a wide selection of regional wines and beers. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a candle-lit degustation dinner over the lagoon with Orpheus’ signature Dining with the Tides experience.
Daily complimentary activities are available to all guests and can include snorkelling, fishing or island cruises in the surrounding waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The resort also offers motorised dinghies, kayaks, catamarans and stand-up paddle boards for those who prefer to explore the island’s turquoise coastline at their own leisure. Walking tracks to the Eastern side of the island are well-maintained and offer fantastic views over the rest of the island and the Palm Island group. The recently constructed loop walk is fairly easy, takes about an hour for those with a reasonable level of fitness and conveniently passes The Lookout, the perfect spot to watch the sunrise over the horizon to the island’s East.
A major attraction of Orpheus Island is its idyllic location in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Those wishing to explore the Outer Reef can request a private full-day charter (shhh, this isn’t exactly an advertised day-trip). I jumped aboard for a full day boat charter to experience the world’s greatest underwater attraction in total seclusion and was left amazed by the natural sights on offer just 1.5hrs from the sandy shores of Orpheus. An abundance of tropical fish and brightly coloured coral gardens lie just under the surface waiting for you to jump in and explore.
Without a doubt, the unmissable attraction of an Orpheus Island getaway is a boat charter to nearby Hinchinbrook Island. The world’s largest island National Park, Hinchinbrook is spectacularly punctuated by pristine sandy beaches, mangrove-lined estuaries, lush forest and jagged peaks. The tour includes a guided rainforest walk to the famous Zoe Waterfall and an opportunity to relax in a natural infinity pool overlooking the picturesque Zoe Bay from the top of the falls. I only had time to experience the first half of the tour before my mid-day helicopter departure, but for those with more time, there are also opportunities to spot crocodiles in the island’s waterways, explore further upstream or even view the island from the air with a scenic helicopter joy flight.
As far as idyllic island destinations go, the five star Orpheus Island Lodge off the coast of the North Queensland mainland is up there with the best of them. Offering a wide range of adventurous activities and local natural attractions in a contemporary, luxurious and relaxed setting, Orpheus Island will suit anyone looking for an intimate island getaway. Although the Summer months offer the hottest temperatures, both in and out of the water, Winter brings with it the opportunity to spot migrating humpback whales directly in front of the resort, clearer water and more predictable weather, so there really is no poor time of the year to visit. If you’re planning a trip to North Queensland, be sure to check out the 8 Spots in North Queensland That Are Perfect For a Winter Getaway.
Adapted from: jamesvodicka.com/travel-blog/
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