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Great Barrier Reef---Luxury resort and convenient snorkeling

Great Barrier Reef---Luxury resort and convenient snorkeling

Old Mar 1st, 2014, 11:50 AM
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Great Barrier Reef---Luxury resort and convenient snorkeling

We are planning a five-day stay near/on the Great Barrier Reef during a trip to Australia next January.

We are searching for a difficult combination--a top notch resort in a position to provide excellent snorkeling. Some excursions by boat are to be expected, but if possible we would like some snorkeling within walking/swimming access of the property.

We suspect we can't match the over-water bungalow/resort/snorkeling combination of Bora Bora, but how close can we come??

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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 03:29 PM
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Lizard Island fits your requirements, I haven't been but it's reported to be a luxury resort and it's one of the few islands directly on the reef itself, others are Heron Island, Wilson Island, Lady Elliot Island, and Green Island.

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Old Mar 1st, 2014, 06:19 PM
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Port Douglas which is about 45 minutes west of Cairns is wonderful. It is a cute town with great shopping,restaurants and easy access to the reef along with the chance to go on day trips to the Daintree Rain Forest and Mossman Gorge. There are several "ya ya "resorts just outside of Port Douglas that might be what you want? There is also the 4 Mile Beach which has white sands and is gorgeous right off the main street of town.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 06:03 AM
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You need to check and know about all the hazards for the location and time of year you will be there. They have some of the most beautiful beaches but you often can not go in, or even get near the water. During January there are several types of jelly fish that will kill you. In that section of the country there are also salt water crocs year round that are a major concern. That gorgeous 4 mile beach mentioned above is only safe to swim in inside one small area netted off that is about 50 yards wide and controlled by life guards that check the safe netted area every hour with even smaller nets to catch the smaller less dangerous jelly fish that if they sting you, do not kill, but only " make you wish you were dead"
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Old Mar 2nd, 2014, 01:58 PM
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If you did end up in the Port Douglas area, there is a company called Poseidon that does day trips to the reef. We were very pleased with our choice when we did the trip with them. They were also very good with the kids on board.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2014, 01:42 PM
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Susan's recommendation for Lizard Island is probably best, I also haven't been there, it is very luxurious and expensive. I have been to Green Island (off Cairns) there is definitely no luxury there. Lady Elliot is at the southern end of GBR, again I haven't been but imagine it is pretty basic.

Port Douglas is north of Cairns and January will be in stinger season, you can't swim in the sea apart from the netted area, as advised by colcowan.

Another consideration might be a live aboard dive boat, google search should find one. Or, consider a bareboat charter out of Airlie Beach.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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we stayed in PD in november, and yes it is a pain not being able to swim apart from in the net.

but there are hotels with decent pools, and the whole atmosphere is great.

Not exactly luxurious though. The islands looked quite good but a bit pricey for us, and then there's a the problem of getting there and back.
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Old Mar 4th, 2014, 08:49 PM
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Although I haven't been, from what I know, Lizard Island would most closely meet your requirements. Second would probably be Heron island, though I haven't been there in over 12 years. Having also been to Bora Bora, I will say the snorkeling on Heron was far better. If you stay on the Australian mainland (such as Port Douglas), the reef is less accessible, being at least an hour off shore by boat.
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Old Mar 5th, 2014, 08:47 AM
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I have been only to Port Douglas and Heron Island, in November. Snorkeling from Port Douglas is by boat trip about 90 minutes or so. Heron Island we did both, from the beach and from the boat, about 10 minutes to the outer edge of the reef. I liked both, but give the nod to Heron Island, partly because by staying for several days, you get more exposure to the reef.

I think (from what I have read, not having been) Lizard Island meets your needs, but January is monsoon season. Not sure I'd go there then. Port Douglas does not meet your needs, and even the top hotels there are not, IMO, "luxurious." Neither is Heron Island, but if you stay at the top room categories, they are ok (note, not much lounging by the pool, it is tiny). Also, management has changed since I went several years ago so no idea about service. A fried of mine went in January and said weather was fine, but there were stingers present so stinger suits were needed for boat trips.

In my experience (limited, but two trips to Australia), luxury accommodations of the type in Asia or Bora Bora is fairly limited in Australia.
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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 09:54 PM
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The resort on Hayman Island might be an option. According to this article it is due to open again soon, after a renovation/redesign.

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Old Mar 6th, 2014, 10:04 PM
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I was looking for an official website, it appears that it has re-branded from the "Hayman Island Resort" to the "One&Only":

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Old Mar 7th, 2014, 01:53 PM
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Lizard Island is by far your best bet. You will have snorkeling right from the beach and no stinger problem. I have been to all the places mentioned and this one meets your requirements in my opinion. It has been a few years but Hayman was more like a large scale resort with no snorkeling from the shore. Heron has some snorkeling from shore but you need to take a boat for the best. I snorkeled two different occasions from Lizard and although I did not stay at the resort, it looked lovely.
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Old Mar 13th, 2014, 02:57 PM
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We have been to Lizard island. It is an excellent resort but we were really disappointed by snorkeling. We went diving on a liveaboard right before going to Lizard and being on the boat was infinitely better -- much much healthier reef.
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