12 September 2016 by Eleanor Kania
No Australia holiday can be without indulging in that favourite Aussie hobby – the beach break. In fact, between the perfectly formed Whitsundays the coral-fringed sands of the Great Barrier Reef and the numberless island paradises scattered among its turquoise waters, Australia features some of the best beaches in the world. But given the country’s sheer scale, it can be hard to choose. That’s why we’ve put together this list of Australia’s top resorts where natural beauty meets considered luxury.
The reef’s northernmost island resort is also its most luxurious. Featuring over 1,000 hectares of national parkland and no less than 24 powdery white beaches, it’s your very own private island paradise. Enjoy uninterrupted turquoise water views from your lodging or get closer with a selection of cruises, exclusive dive spots and beach snorkel sessions. For something special, take your dinner on the sands where a seven course tasting menu will see you travel across Australia to the shores of Asia. Complimentary activities range from paddle ski trips and glass bottom boat tours to tennis and gym sessions.
Suite with private plunge pool at Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef
Reached only by plane, helicopter or boat, Qualia is a lesson in quiet seclusion, tucked away on the northern tip of the Whitsunday’s Hamilton Island. Upon arrival at what is the eastern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll be able to explore the island’s golden beaches, hidden inlets and tropical bush land on your complimentary electric golf buggy. And, given that over two thirds of the island is a protected national park, there’s plenty of room for your pavilion accommodation, handcrafted from native timber and featuring infinity edge plunge pools. Return from the golden sands, reef dives or yoga sessions to award winning degustation dining.
A sea-facing bedroom at Qualia, on Hamilton Island
One&Only Hayman Island, Whitsundays (closed until late 2018)
The Whitsundays have long been a green jewel in the Coral Sea and an ideal gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, featuring some of the world’s best beaches. Head out on seaplane and helicopter tours, nature walks and a full array of watersports or simply take things easy with the beachside spa. And, befitting of the One&Only brand, the rooms are utterly luxurious, dressed in crisp linens, bathed in natural light and overlooking a lily lagoon.
The swimming pool at One&Only Hayman Island, in Australia's Whitsundays
Taking notes from Byron Bay’s bohemian sensibilities, this indulgent resort features complimentary yoga sessions, locally sourced dining and is utterly relaxed. However, a backpackers’ ghetto this is not. Open plan rooms and expansive verandahs take advantage of its 45 acres of subtropical rainforest while luxury facilities extend to a 25 metre swimming pool, synthetic grass tennis court and an excellent spa centre. And, what’s more, it’s all a short boardwalk amble to the beach or the superb Byron Bay Golf Course.
The pool area and surrounding gardens at The Byron, Byron Bay
Flung out some 600km from Australia’s east coast and measuring just 10km in length, Lord Howe Island is the last word in romantic isolation. As the island’s premiere accommodation, Capella commands views over its spectacular crescent beach, framed by jutting green hills and virgin rainforest. Take it all in from the horizon pool; it will come as no surprise that the island is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And, faultlessly contemporary, the lodge holds a mirror to it all with great wooden decks inspired by the rainforest, whitewashed walls by the surrounding mountains and balanced fine dining is by the fresh seafood and herbs from the lodge’s own garden.
The scenic oceanfront lounge patio of Capella Lodge, on Lord Howe Island
This bijoux guesthouse comprises just four luxury pavilions, perched high on a forested escarpment overlooking the beaches of Bouddi National Park. To explore, make use of the resort’s private boat, arrive by seaplane or simply take advantage of the many coastal walks. You’ll return to split level apartment life complete with wood burning fireplaces, private pools and bay views. Between meals by Stefano Manfredi – one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs – spend your time at the cookery or wine school, with flower-infused spa treatments or studying the site’s ancient rock carvings.
One of Pretty Beach House's infinity pools from one of its four luxury pavilions
Tasmania has long captured the imagination of explorers past and present with visions of wild coastlines, turquoise seas and those obligatory white sand beaches. Saffire Freycinet has the good sense to mix in a touch of luxury; it’s a coastal sanctuary with one toe in the waters and an eye on the island’s abundant wildlife. Designed by award-winning Tasmanian architects, steel sweeps marry with pink granite to create design that’s as impressive as its environment. Complimentary activities – including wine tastings, canoeing and bird watching – delight while the spa treatments truly stand out; facials even make use of sapphires, diamonds and gold.
The scenery of Tasmania is reflected in the windows of Saffire Freycinet's plate-glass suite windows
Billed as Australia’s ‘first true luxury lodge’, this sophisticated offering curves along a clifftop to frame views out across the Southern Ocean. And Kangaroo Island is much more than pretty beaches. Often referred to as Australia’s answer to the Galápagos, it features sea lions, penguins, bandicoots, prickly echidnas and, yes, those famous marsupials. Back at base, deep soaking bathtubs, sunken lounges and limestone fireplaces provide the comfort while complimentary wines from the extensive cellar and locally-inspired menus prove that Kangaroo Island is not just for show.
The view from the Osprey Pavilion suite terrace and plunge pool at Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island
Combine golden sands with crisp whites and full-bodied reds at Margaret River, one of Australia’s premiere wine regions. To its fore, this luxury Pullman Resort iteration looks out over a tranquil beach and breaching whales while you’ll find coastal walks, karri forests and world class viticulture to its aft. Accommodation comes in the form of bungalow-style villas, finished with natural stone and timber, as dining mixes locally sourced produce with a distinctly Mediterranean influence. And, while there’s a superb spa, tennis court and gym, no self-respecting luxury resort can be without an infinity pool and Pullman’s offering is particularly special, with views over Bunker Bay.
The heated infinity pool at Pullman Resort Bunker Bay, Margaret River
This exclusive property offers a slice of luxury in one of Australia’s most remote coastal wildernesses – the Kimberley. Tucked away in the northern tip of Western Australia, it’s some 150km away from the nearest town and only accessible by air; watch as swathes of greenery give way to a bright red dirt airstrip and the lodge’s private white beaches. Drink in the secluded setting from your villa’s expansive decks, complimentary drink in hand, after taking advantage of the included excursions; there’s everything from ocean fishing to 4WD bush drives and guided treks.
Pool and decking area surrounded by coastal Kimberley wilderness at Berkeley River Lodge in Berkeley River