We’re approaching the June/July period when traditionally (i.e. a pre-COVID-19 world) our Instagram and Facebook feeds would see the annual onslaught of jealousy-inducing European summer snaps! All our pals holidaying on Greek and Croatian islands, posting pics from French beaches, Spanish bays and the decks of yachts. Always so many yachts. Even the Karens of the world seem to get over to Europe, ready to chat up some poor English-as-a-second-language manager no doubt. Anyway I digress, but the point is that it really just gets unbearable.
Until now...2021. The year we can’t travel to Europe but can travel to the next best place, Queensland, Australia! With its tropical islands, palm trees for days, lush rainforests, endless white sandy beaches, reef and of course, yachts. Queensland also has lots of yachts! So this year you too can join that Euro-summer fun in Queensland. We’ve put together our top 5 spots to hit that rival Europe, where you can have just as much fun, minus the long and costly airfare and jetlag. So pull out those white budgie smugglers (or not), that bedazzled kaftan and grab the Australian-level SPF. These are the beaches, bays and islands you ought to be visiting this year.
Once on the island, you have all the usual tropical island suspects at your fingertips; beaches, bays, hiking trails, pools (lots of pools), a golf course, quick and easy access to reef, Whitehaven Beach and of course, yachts. Stay on the island and utilise kayaks, catamarans and paddleboards, or head offshore and see what lies beneath. When it comes to wining and dining, you have everything from restaurants with a view, to cafes, a tavern and your classic fish & chippery. Accommodation wise you can choose from the high-end qualia, to family-friendly hotels, spacious houses and self contained apartments. Basically, the island has it all, making it appealing for families, couples, hens weekends, golf weekends and everything in between.
Run by the Intercontinental group, Hayman Island Resort boasts all the classics the brand is known for, paired with an absolutely banging location - one that makes a great base for exploring nearby Langford Island, Bali Hai, Blue Pearl Bay and Hook Island. When it comes to dining, in true bougie form, the island offers five distinct dining experiences, each one designed to “capture the essence of connectivity and the heart of Queensland’s local flavour”. Would you really expect anything less from a five-star resort?
It’s the ideal place to base yourself if you want to make the most of the region, without tying yourself down in one specific spot, it’s a day trip paradise. Take boat trips to the islands, spend a day snorkelling or diving the Great Barrier Reef, and make the most of the amazing scenery. Spend a few nights in Airlie, followed by a few nights on a…. Yes you got it, a yacht! A lot of places let you leave cars and luggage in storage in Airlie for a few days after your stay, so you can check out the surrounding region too.
To get there, simply take a boat transfer from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island, and yes we know what you’re probably thinking, “I had no idea how easy it would be to get to these tropical paradises!” It's a pleasant surprise right? Once there, fill your days hitting the walking tracks, secluded beaches and bays, relaxing around the resort or trying your luck at finding Nemo in nearby Coral atolls.
It may be one of the smallest islands in the region, but it really packs a punch, boasting 17 kilometres of walking trails, lookouts, plenty of pristine beaches, protected bays, and expansive coral fringing reefs. Snorkelling is an absolute must, as it’s home to a rich array of native flora and fauna and plenty of marine life, including turtles!
With only two resorts it’s a little quieter than other islands, so it really hits the spot when it comes to a flop-n-drop escape. It’s also home to the Great Barrier Reef’s first 100% solar powered resort - Elysian Retreat, that boasts 10 stylish villas with mountain, ocean and rainforest views. Alternatively, the Palm Bay Resort is a fantastic budget friendly option, with 25 self-contained rooms available.
Feeling tempted? Book your Australia flights here or check out some of our Queensland packages here.
This blog was originally written by Jess Holmes for Flight Centre Australia.