Style Reef encounter
Setting Rugged island Eden
Why this week? Because winter has no dominion here. Australia’s blissful, sun-blanched loveliness is unmarred by any thoughts of rain, sleet, hail and all the joys of an English December. And because it’s five nights for the price of four. Thanks to Captain Cook’s epic voyaging back in 1770, the rest of us can satisfy the pioneering impulse without the toil and trouble. Adventure thrills through Lizard Island’s aquatic activities. Gorgeous, panoramic vistas summon you out to sea, to fasten your flippers for diving amid the corals at the matter-of-factly named Cod Hole, captaining your own motorised dinghy on a voyage about the coast or perhaps a leisurely snorkel by the beach. Ribbon reefs, dazzling tropical fish and coves cry out for your attention. Sugared bays sprawl out in the sun, sunsets sear through the sky like the juice of a blood orange. Diaphanous seas shimmer, like a flute of Blue Curaçao… I can merrily write total nonsense right now; I’ll wager you’re just gawping at the pictures…
Our favourite bits The resort’s restaurant, Osprey’s – named in honour of the birds nesting on the tiny island visible from its granite tables – serves French-accented Modern Australian dishes in chilled Aussie style. It will satisfy your seafoody cravings – fat prawns, cuttlefish salads and lobster omelettes. Recline in comfy wicker chairs and enjoy breathtaking views out over the ocean.
Mr & Mrs Smith say ‘Lizard Island resort sounds like a love shack built by God and Godzilla, yet a short bus trip from the airstrip reminds us of its Marine National Park status. There are no manicured gardens or sprinkler-strewn golf courses here. Instead wild scrub and rocky mountain ranges dominate an interior hemmed from a turquoise sea by powdery white sand and a nexus of 40 private villas, rooms and suites overlooking Sunset Beach and Anchor Bay. Our TV-free timber Anchor Bay Room is nestled amid a forest of trees with a day-bed and balcony bang on Watsons Beach. One quirk: it’s a share suite. Tiny cute geckos dot the walls and, in the days to come, we strike a deal: they keep the insects down; we let them share our digs and drink our wine. Our plans to render inactivity an art form are diverted by the Beach Club. Soon we’re puttering across the Blue Lagoon to deserted Mermaid Beach. Donning masks and flippers, we gorge on the glories of the Great Barrier Reef: swarms of neon-bright fish grazing hectares of spectacular coral gardens and underwater canyons filled to the gills with enchantments like starfish, stingrays, squid, sea cucumbers and giant clams older than us and lit from within by flickers of electricity and mystery.’
Compiled by Louisa Coward