Destinations / Australia

13 Heavenly Island Resorts on the Great Barrier Reef

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef is a living and breathing spectacle of almost 3,000 reefs across about 344,400 square kilometres. Now a major tourism draw, the Great Barrier Reef is easily accessible on snorkelling and scuba diving tours that get you up close with the vibrant marine life.

Arguably the best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is by staying at one of the glamorous island resorts surrounding it. With more than 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve donned our flip flops and shades to bring you 13 otherworldly island resorts on this world-famous natural marvel.

qualia

qualia
Photo| qualia | Provided by QUALIA

The world-class luxury at qualia is epitomised by its prime location on the northern tip of Hamilton Overlooking, overlooking the islands and coral clumps of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s hard to turn away from this vista, but when you do, you’ll discover a blissful on-site spa offering wellbeing therapies and beauty treatments, guest-only beach bars and waterside restaurants.

Choose from 60 private pavilions overlooking the Whitsunday Islands or tropical bushland. Most accommodations feature king-size beds, gourmet mini bars, separate lounge areas and use of an electric golf buggy. Stay in the Beach House for a private swimming pool, kitchenette, 10-seat dining table and ocean-facing deck. 

Why You Should Stay Here 

  • Various fitness options, including yoga, kayaking, infinity pools and personal trainers.
  • Fresh seafood and produce served at Long Pavilion.
  • The three-hour Whitsunday Escape at the on-site spa.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 1,400 – USD 5,740
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: 20 Whitsunday Boulevard, Hamilton Island, Australia

Beach Club

Beach Club
Photo| Beach Club | Provided by BEACH CLUB

The adults-only Beach Club is nestled on the picturesque Catseye Beach and offers an intimate getaway on Hamilton Island. The Beach Club Room comes with a private terrace or balcony, Coral Sea views, a rain shower and heavenly king-size bed. All guests have access to the infinity-edge pool, private beach hammocks and deck chairs on the lawn.

Pamper yourself with an array of luxe treatments at the surrounding day spas or enjoy some romantic dining on site at the extravagant restaurant, which pairs cocktails, chef-crafted meals and a la carte breakfast with dreamy beach views. You also have access to complimentary non-motorised water sports, including stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and snorkelling equipment.

Why You Should Stay Here

  • Exclusive adults-only resort on Hamilton Island’s best beach.
  • About 150 metres from the Hamilton Island Sports Club.
  • Unlimited in-room movies for your entire stay for a small fee.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: USD 288 – USD 402
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: 9 Resort Drive, Hamilton Island, Australia

Wilson Island

Wilson Island
Photo| Wilson Island | Provided by WILSON ISLAND

Boasting its own private island on the Great Barrier Reef, Wilson Island is an adults-only tropical oasis where you can snorkel right off the sandy beach. You can book the entire island for your holiday or stay in one of the nine designer tents. These accommodations emphasise the phrase “glamping”, featuring wooden decks overlooking the water, bathrobes and daily housekeeping.

The on-site facilities include a large dining hall with an elongated table, lounge seating and supplies of various types of alcohol. The island’s host is also your chef, capable of creating gourmet meals from local ingredients. You’re also a 40-minute boat ride from the world-famous Heron Island, known for its turtle population.

Why You Should Stay Here 

  • You can book out the entire island, which can accommodate up to 18 guests.
  • Glamping accommodation for a more rustic experience.
  • Coral reefs a few metres from the beach.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 995 – USD 1,990
Guest Rating: 10
Address: Wilson Island, Tropic Of Capricorn, Australia

Lizard Island Resort

Lizard Island Resort
Photo| Lizard Island Resort | Provided by LEONARDO

Lizard Island Resort feels a world away, tucked on a private island with 24 beaches and only 40 suites and villas. You do the math. The Gardenview Rooms have the smallest price tag, yet still offer private balconies, Smart TVs, mini bars and in-room sound systems.

In a completely different price bracket is The Villa, an opulent clifftop abode with a kitchenette, two bedrooms and an infinity pool and deck overlooking the Coral Sea. On-site dining is highlighted by the extensive wine list at Driftwood Bar & Wine Cellar and the fresh local produce at Salt Water Restaurant. Guests also have access to stand-up paddleboards, motorised dinghies and glass-bottom sea kayaks. 

Why You Should Stay Here

  • Access to a variety of nature walks and lookouts on the private island.
  • Signature treatments and rituals at Essentia Day Spa.
  • The private pool, Coral Sea views, deluxe picnic hampers and heavenly bedding in the Oceanview Plunge Pool Villa.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 1,329 – USD 2,485
Guest Rating: 9.6
Address: PMB 40 Cairns, Lizard Island, Australia

Heron Island Resort

Heron Island
Photo| Heron Island | Provided by HERON ISLAND – JORDAN ROBINS

The only resort on the world-renowned Heron Island, the 4-star Heron Island Resort grants you exclusive access to the island’s famed coral reefs and marine sanctuary. This eco-friendly experience includes various educational tours, complimentary walks and nature presentations and snorkelling and diving trips. You can also relax with a massage at Aqua Soul Spa or a cold drink at Baillie’s Bar.

Pandanus Lounge hosts entertainment most nights, while Shearwater Restaurant has a veranda overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. Book the entry-level Turtle Room for a queen-size bed and outdoor deck or the Reef Room for lounge seating and an outdoor terrace. The luxe Beach House has a king-size bed, separate living room and a patio with a private boardwalk to the beach.

Why You Should Stay Here

  • The only resort on the eco-conscious Heron Island with turtles, reefs and beaches.
  • The king-size bed, private terrace and lounge area in the Wistari Suite.
  • Organises island and reef walks, sunset cruises, group snorkelling and guided fishing tours.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 208 – USD 465
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: Heron Island, Australia

Orpheus Island Lodge

Orpheus Island Lodge
Photo| Orpheus Island Lodge | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Orpheus Island Lodge offers all-inclusive accommodation on the Great Barrier Reef, highlighted by the award-winning on-site dining, including four-course dinners. The resort’s day spa is renowned for its nourishing body rituals and rejuvenating face and hand therapies, while the infinity pool and water sports rentals complement those sunny Queensland days.

Stay in the North Beachfront Room to enjoy a king-size bed, Bose sound system, stocked mini bar and Coral Sea views from your patio. Alternatively, upgrade to the North Beachfront Villa for the added luxury of two bedrooms and bathrooms, a spacious lounge, multiple patios and LED TVs. All the rooms come with beach towels, beach bags and yoga mats.

Why You Should Stay Here

  • Offers numerous on-site activities, including fishing, snorkelling, motorised dinghies and sailing.
  • Runs various eco-tours, such as guided walks and eco-educational scuba diving.
  • A private island resort with beaches and coral reefs.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 1,080 – USD 1,619
Guest Rating: 10
Address: Orpheus Island, Australia

Daydream Island Resort

Daydream Island Resort
Photo| Daydream Island Resort | Provided by BOOKING.COM

The opulent Daydream Island Resort is a private island resort with three restaurants, three bars, the pampering Elita Day Spa and an ocean-facing pool with a poolside bar. However, the most memorable feature of this resort is the Living Reef concept, which boasts a freeform coral lagoon filled with marine life wrapping around the resort’s central building.

The newly refurbished accommodation ranges from comfortable Standard Rooms with shower baths, king-size beds and desks to Deluxe Rooms with Whitsundays views and large furnished terraces. You can also spoil yourself with a stay in the Serenity Suite, which also features a furnished terrace, along with a sitting area.

Why You Should Stay Here

  • Australian dishes at Inkstone Kitchen & Bar and Asian-fusion cuisine at Infinity.
  • Gourmet burgers and cocktails served at the poolside Barefoot Bar.
  • Various on-site activities, including heli-tours, guided snorkels and kayaking.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: USD 252 – USD 766
Guest Rating: 7.4
Address: Daydream Island, Australia

Bedarra Island Resort

Marvel at Great Barrier Reef views while residing at the 5-star Bedarra Island Resort, home to opulent villas overlooking the ocean. The Treehouse Villa is one of the best with its encircling coconut palms and sprawling split-level terrace with a daybed, outdoor shower and beach views. You can also stay right on the sand in The Beach House, which also has a plunge pool and furnished deck.

Indulge in a seasonal menu paired with cocktails and wine at the open bar at Bedarra’s restaurant, which overlooks the private beach. During the day, you can enjoy a range of on-site activities, from stand-up paddleboarding and snorkelling to self-guided rainforest walks and tennis. The resort also has a well-equipped gym and can arrange helicopter tours and scuba diving excursions. 

Why You Should Stay Here

  • All-villa accommodation on a secluded island with private beaches.
  • The outdoor rainforest bathroom, private sun deck and cathedral ceilings in the Nautilus Villa.
  • Organises outer Great Barrier Reef snorkelling and diving trips.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 1,390 – USD 2,390
Guest Rating: 10
Address: Via Cairns and Dunk Island, Mission Beach, Queensland, Australia

Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island Resort
Photo| Fitzroy Island Resort | Provided by BOOKING.COM | SHUTTERSTOCK COOLR

Enjoy the perks of staying on a private island while staying at Fitzroy Island Resort, where you can visit Nudey Beach, which is regularly listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Fitzroy Island also offers exceptional snorkelling along its coastline where you can see octopus, barracuda and vibrant angelfish. The resort offers massages by the pool or in your room, along with gourmet dining at Zephyr Restaurant and nightly entertainment at Foxy’s Bar.

You can save money by staying in the Resort Studio, which has a queen-size bed and lounge seating, or upgrade to an Island Suite for a separate living room and private balcony. Want to stay closer to the water? Book the Beach Cabin, which has two bedrooms and a balcony just a few metres from the sand.

Why You Should Stay Here

  • The four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, balcony and spa bath in the Penthouse.
  • Has a turtle rehabilitation centre, reef snorkelling cruises and sunset sailing excursions.
  • The snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding rentals at the water sports hut.

Star Rating: 4.5*
Price: USD 81 – USD 432
Guest Rating: 8.1
Address: Fitzroy Island, Cairns, Australia

Green Island Resort

Occupying its own paradisiacal island on the Great Barrier Reef, Green Island Resort promises utter relaxation and coastal adventure. Accommodation ranges from the 56-square-metre Island Suite King Room with a separate bath, king-size bed and balcony to the romantic Reef Suite Room with a larger bed and balcony.

Dining at Green Island Resort is best experienced with room service from one of the gourmet restaurants, which serves fresh sushi and seafood platters. During the day, venture down to the beach to sunbathe in a lounger, snorkel the reef just metres offshore or purchase cocktails from the poolside bar. You can also book a massage or join an island walk or glass-bottom boat tour.

Why You Should Stay Here 

  • Has a range of crocodiles and marine animals at Marineland Melanesia.
  • A private island resort with a complimentary sunset champagne and beer hour.
  • Organises helicopter tours and scuba diving.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 354 – USD 571
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: Green Island, Australia

Peppers Blue on Blue Resort

Peppers Blue On Blue Resort
Photo| Peppers Blue On Blue Resort | Provided by PEPPERS BLUE ON BLUE RESORT

Positioned on Magnetic Island’s popular Nelly Bay, the 5-star Peppers Blue on Blue Resort is bordered on one side by the Coral Sea and on the other by picturesque mountainous terrain. The resort emphasises leisure with its two swimming pools, rejuvenating treatments at Endota Spa and cocktails on the deck overlooking the on-site marina.

Budget travellers will appreciate the value for money in the entry-level Hotel Room, which boasts a private balcony, king-size bed and mini bar. Upgrade to the Hotel Superior Room for marina views or book a Studio for a kitchenette, laundry and separate lounge room. Groups can splurge on the Three Bedroom Plunge Apartment for a private pool, sprawling balcony and a gourmet kitchen.

Why You Should Stay Here 

  • The full kitchen, two living rooms, 10-seat antique dining table, wraparound balcony and reading chairs in the Four Bedroom Penthouse.
  • Tropical ingredients and top-shelf wine served at Boardwalk Restaurant & Bar.
  • About 15 minutes’ walk from Pro Dive Magnetic Island.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 130 – USD 3,800
Guest Rating: 8.3
Address: 123 Sooning Street, Nelly Bay, Australia

Island Leisure Resort

Island Leisure Resort
Photo| Island Leisure Resort | Provided by BOOKING.COM | GETTYIMAGES GIVENWORKS

The multi-award-winning Island Leisure Resort is popular for its Polynesian-style bures, which accentuate the island vibes with patios overlooking the tropical gardens filled with birds and possums. The bures also have large fridges, sitting areas, plush bedding and cathedral ceilings with exposed timber rafters. There are different designs catering to solo travellers, couples and families.

Sunny days are best spent by the resort’s lagoon-style pool, which features plush sun loungers, a spa and covered picnic and barbecue areas. Duck into the game room for a round of pool or table tennis, order drinks and snacks from the licensed kiosk or borrow books or board games from the library. There’s also a full-size tennis court and giant chess board in the gardens.

Why You Should Stay Here 

  • Located on Nelly Bay, where you can snorkel or join a reef tour.
  • Surrounded by popular restaurants, including Man Friday and Thai Again.
  • Numerous on-site leisure facilities, including a pool and tennis court.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 123 – USD 145
Guest Rating: 9
Address: Kelly Street, Nelly Bay, Australia

Grand Mercure Apartments Magnetic Island

Grand Mercure Apartments Magnetic Island
Photo| Grand Mercure Apartments Magnetic Island | Provided by ICE PORTAL

Positioned in the middle of the Magnetic Island Reef at Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay, the extravagant Grand Mercure Apartments Magnetic Island offers self-contained accommodation on Magnetic Island. Most of the one, two and three-bedroom apartments come with ocean views. The multi-room options have king-size beds and single beds, while all apartments have well-equipped kitchens and laundries.

Along with babysitting services and complimentary Wi-Fi, guests staying in the apartments have access to a daily breakfast and late check-out. It’s a short walk from restaurants and shops around Nelly Bay, including Boardwalk Restaurant and Bar, SOS – Stuffed on Seafood and Scallywags. 

Why You Should Stay Here

  • Self-contained accommodation next to Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay.
  • Convenient access to snorkelling on the Magnetic Island Reef.
  • Surrounded by enticing dining and shopping options.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 162 – USD 338
Guest Rating: 8.2
Address: 146 Sooning Street, Nelly Bay, Australia

Hotel Location

A Little Slice of Reef Paradise

The Great Barrier Reef doesn’t hold back when it comes to natural spoils. However, you shouldn’t forget to spoil yourself as well by staying at one of these incredible island resorts. Not only do they grant you direct access to the Great Barrier Reef, but they also typically boast gourmet on-site dining, Instagram-worthy pools, indulgent day spas and enviable suites overlooking the Coral Sea.

Where do you want to stay on the Great Barrier Reef? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Ben Stower

I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.

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Ben Stower
I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.
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