Great Barrier Reef: Places to Explore


Orpheus Island

Volcanic in origin, this narrow island—11 km (7 mi) long and 1 km (½ mi) wide, 3,500 acres total—uncoils like a snake in the waters between Halifax Bay and the Barrier Reef. It's part of the Palm Island Group, which consists of 10 islands, 8 of which are Aboriginal reservations. Orpheus is a national park, occupied only by a marine research station and the island's resort, recently refurbished under its new, eco-conscious owners and scheduled to reopen in March 2012 with the addition of a large vegetable garden, a solar hot-water system, and a 21,134-gallon water tank, a brand-new infinity-edge pool, and several beachfront villas linked by a rear boardwalk. Although there are patches of rain forest in the island's deeper gullies and around its sheltered bays, Orpheus is a true Barrier Reef island, ringed by seven unspoiled sandy beaches and superb coral. Incredibly, 340 of the known 350 species of coral inhabit these waters, as well as more than 1,100 types of tropical fish and the biggest giant clams in the southern hemisphere. The marine life here is easily accessed and extraordinary—and the maximum 42 guests at the resort are virtually the only ones visiting it. You may occasionally see unfamiliar boats offshore, which is their right according to a marine park treaty, but you'll know everyone on Orpheus at any given time, maybe even by name.

Orpheus Island at a Glance

Sports and Outdoors