Lizard Island’s magic against modern life

Sarah Motherwell
(Australian Associated Press)

I think there’s something following me. But the thought fills me with calm, not dread.

It is a serenity I have surprisingly failed to shake – unlike the sand and seawater that washed so easily from my hair – since spending five days on Lizard Island.

Weeks have passed since I took off back to Brisbane, back to the horns of traffic-jammed cars and intrusive chimes of email alerts.

But as I sit under the fluorescent office lights, my mind is swept back to the Queensland oasis by the slightest prompt.

A truck roars by the window and it starts again.
This time, I’m back in the moment a landing Cessna stirred me from the day bed of my beachfront suite that felt more like home than hotel.

The book in my hand is still propped open by my index finger (I can’t remember the last time I read uninterrupted).

My gaze is drawn to the secluded beach before me: white sand meeting the blue sky, framed by palm trees.

My only company is the yellow-spotted monitor lingering at the edge of my porch where I’ve hung my bathers out to dry in the sun.

All the furniture at the resort is dangerously comfortable and I’ve often found myself slipping into a light slumber.

And I’m not the only one.
Lizard Island is a premier destination for those seeking solace from life’s stresses without the hassle of planning a holiday.

Everything from the gourmet meals at the open-air Salt Water Restaurant to the first-class service from the staff is taken care of the moment you arrive.

The only thing a guest has to worry about is what delicious dish they wish to eat and which heavenly beach they wish to swim at.

One of the simple joys about staying on Lizard Island, or hindrance as some might see it, is there is no phone reception or wifi other than at select areas around the luxury resort.

The restaurant is not one of them.
Patrons embrace the lost art of mealtime conversation, unbroken by text messages or the compulsion to post pictures of their food to social media.

It is partly the absence of a modern age utility in the guests’ rooms and around the island that allows you to truly let go and enjoy this paradise.

Of course, if you are desperate to stay connected, reception is available at Cook’s Look, the tallest point on the island worth the four-hour return hike for its panoramic views alone.
As I close my eyes, it is so easy to see the island before me, just like it was when I reached that peak.

It is as if the potent vistas both land and sea and the tranquillity they bring are forever burned into my mind.

A moment that makes my heart sing every time I think of it is snorkelling with turtles at Casuarina Beach near the Research Station.

Lizard Island is surrounded by vibrant reefs teeming with life despite the recent and ongoing trials they have endured, including two cyclones and unprecedented coral bleaching.
Casuarina Beach, however, is a patchwork of ivory sand and sea grass, perfect for hungry green turtles.

We could see their heads rising above the surface gasping for air even before we anchored. Underwater they were more concerned with lunch than humans lurching in the waist-deep shallows, frantically arranging their GoPros.

Once the initial excitement wore off, it was replaced by a calm and deep appreciation for the treasured experience of floating with these graceful animals.

Upon our return to the beach house, a friend and I walked to the end of the bay and sat in the still crystal water to watch the colours of the sky change with the sinking sun.

It was as close as possible to perfection.
So, maybe it seems strange that everything after that moment has not, in some way, been tainted by comparison.

The opposite is true.

That completeness and liberation from everyday troubles a person often loses soon after a holiday has remained with me.

Recurring guests all spoke of a nameless magic calling them back to Lizard Island, but having spent just a few nights under its stars I too have found myself under its spell.

One I’m in not hurry to shake: the email alerts can do their worst.


Lizard Island is an hour-long flight from Cairns on a private plane charter, costing $350 per person for a one-way transfer and $700 return.

Cairns is 2.5-hour flight from Brisbane, 3 hours from Sydney and 3.5 hours from Melbourne.

The Reef Expedition package include 4 nights’ accommodation, guided inner reef snorkel trips, full outer reef snorkel or dive, personal tour of Lizard Island Research Station and sunset drinks with all visiting researchers.

Bookings are available for May, September and November 2018. Prices start from $5808 per person, twin share. Trips are limited to 12 people.

For more, visit

Lizard Island guests have unlimited use of stand up paddle boards and clear view sea kayaks and access to their own motorised dinghy.

Guests also receive gourmet meals daily, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages and a fine selection of wine, beer, basic spirits and sparkling wine.

Download the Lizard Island Field Guide from the App Store or Google Play.


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