Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to visit most of the Great Barrier Reef hotels and resorts and whilst it’s impossible to pick a favourite, it’s definitely given me an insight to which one suits each type of traveller. I can definitely give you pointers on which island might be best for you or your family when it comes to planning your trip.

Best Great Barrier Reef hotel for luxury

Australia is blessed with a number of luxury island resorts – here are my favourites:

Qualia, Hamilton Island

Qualia on Hamilton Island is an exclusive resort within a resort, easily accessed with direct flights on to the island. The accommodation is sublime – I loved the Windward Pavilion with its own pool and perfect views across the Whitsundays.

Lizard Island Resort

Lizard Island resort is a member of the Luxury Lodges of Australia, located directly on the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a 40 minute flight from Cairns and a world apart – secluded luxury at its finest. The whole island is a National Park, and there’s just one resort… perfect!

Best island for families

Depending on your budget there are some appealing ideas for family holidays.

Hamilton Island

Nearby Hamilton Island also offers the widest choice of accommodation styles of all the islands; including 3 star to 5 star hotels, plus self-catering apartments and villas with fantastic facilities and access to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island off the coast of Gladstone in Southern Queensland is another family favourite even though it's away from the Great Barrier Reef. It's the world’s largest sand island and offers freshwater lakes to swim in, 4WD tours along the Beach Highway, amazing wildlife and lots more. It makes a great day trip or overnight stay and is accessible by ferry from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach.

Best island for couples and honeymooners

Orpheus Island

If you’re looking for a ‘Robinson Crusoe’ island but with all the luxuries of a 5 star resort, my top choice is Orpheus Island. At its busiest, you'll only be amongst 28 guests!

Just getting there is spectacular with a helicopter ride from the mainland over the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. Their signature honeymoon experience is ‘Dining with the Tides’ – a private dinner at the end of the pier, backlit by the sunset – wow!

Lizard Island

Another luxury honeymoon option for pure romance is Lizard Island. You can take yourselves off to one of the 40 secluded beaches with a picnic and if you’re keen scuba divers too, this could be your perfect honeymoon destination.

Hamilton Island

With a more modest price tag, the Beach Club on Hamilton Island is an adult-only exclusive resort with access to all the facilities of the island and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach.

Best island for scuba diving

Lizard Island

Pretty much all of the islands in Queensland have access to the Great Barrier Reef by day boat, but special mention goes again to Lizard Island for its proximity to the famous Cod Hole, one of the best known dive sites in the world and home to many potato cod fish!

Heron Island

Heron Island is a 4 star resort further south accessible from Gladstone by boat or seaplane and is located directly on the reef – it’s actually a coral cay with more than 20 dive sites to explore.

Fraser Island

If you’re interested in a wreck dive, Fraser Island is home to the Maheno wreck and you can stay on the island as part of your holiday to Australia.


Interested in a stay in one of these Great Barrier Reef hotels?

If you’d like to include one of these Great Barrier Reef islands in your trip, or plan a tailor-made holiday to Australia I can help. I can arrange direct flights, accommodation and tours and show you how to include the best stopovers to suit you, just contact Annette.

The approach to Lady Elliott Island is spectacular!

East-coast Australia: Fraser Island & Lady Elliott Island explored

Stephen Pollard

Travelling friend
at Travel Nation