Day 1 - 2
Cairns is a peaceful city nestled between the shimmering waters of the Coral Sea and the rustling jade canopy of the rainforest that blankets the Great Dividing Range. Locals linger along the grass that lines the esplanade and bask in the tropical sunlight. Large sculptures of exotic fish fly above the swimming lagoon that overlooks the idyllic shores as the scent of coconut sweeps across the coastline and sailboats glide over the sapphire hues of the water.
Your flight will land at Cairns Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival and escort you to a luxurious hotel that offers pristine views to the graceful coast. The air fills with the fragrance of lush rainforest, hyacinth, and ocean and the remainder of the day is yours to explore the pleasures of the city. Flying foxes dangle in the trees that line the walkways, nibble on mangoes or rest in the shade. In the mountains, the Barron Falls thunder down the rugged precipice between the magnificent greenery as the hidden edges of the city reveal wondrous wetlands in which kingfishers perch and egrets graze. Mangrove trees abound around the serene boardwalk over the calm, reflective tributary.
Day 3 - 4
In the morning, the sunlight will flicker against the mirror outline of the Flecker Botanic Gardens. The lush interior features elements of the rainforest and the saltwater creeks and then give way to an abundance of birdlife, from honeyeaters to cockatoos. Bamboo trees soar into the sky beneath the shading fronds of coconut palms. After breakfast, you will make your way to the marina to board a catamaran bound for Green Island National Park. The brisk sea air carries hints of sweetness amidst the soft briny aroma. The mist spouting from the water is refreshing as it hits your cheeks. Your boat will dock at the end of the long jetty that connects to the white sands of Green Island as verdant rainforest grows out of the heart of the coral cay.
Over a period of 6,000 years, the diluted coral has crumbled in the crystal clear water and added the powdery texture and white hues to the shoreline. The island encompasses 30 acres, with fringing reefs that cast silhouettes in the lustrous water. As you walk along the jetty, you will be able to see the reef systems below. Offshore, you may spot a hawksbill turtle that may peek its head above the surface water. Upon reaching the shoreline, you can stroll along the rainforest walk to touch your fingers to the waxy leaves of the encompassing trees. You can listen for the terns and pheasant coucals and find geckos blending into the leaves while the butterflies flutter around the underbrush.
Less than 15 miles off of the Queensland coast stands Fitzroy Island, which features granite outcrops and marvelous woodlands. Mangrove trees grow along the island edges, and coral beaches provide powdery white sand upon which the water gently laps. After breakfast, you will once again board a luxury catamaran and head for the open ocean. The sea breeze carries a refreshing aroma as it washes over the boat and you will wake to find the scent of coffee drifting out of the boat’s galley. The island encompasses nearly one and a half square miles and reaches an elevation of 1,230 feet above sea level along its summit. The clear waters offer views of the fringing reef formations from the sand.
Granite boulders frame the pristine beaches, and lush rainforest provides shade like natural beach umbrellas. You can make your way to the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, which was opened in 2013. The world-class facility offers a space for sea turtles to recuperate in clean water and large tanks, and turtles often stay in the center between six months to two years before being deemed healthy. Hawksbill and Green turtles leisurely swim around the warm seawater tanks and peek their head up to eat the gathering sea grass caretakers float atop the water.
In the morning, the tropical aromas of coconut and pineapple will blend into the sea breeze. Nearby plantations are flanked by rainforest trees and offer the perfect setting for the exotic fruits to thrive, along with rambutan, passion fruit, and decadent coffee. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the Cairns Airport. You will board a plane bound for the secluded shores of Lizard Island and once in the air, you can see the reef bodies from above as well as the spectacular indigo hues of the water and the sapphire spots that mark the coral.
The scenic flight will take less than an hour before you land in Lizard Island National Park, which encompasses more than 2,500 acres. 24 opulent beaches encircle the coastline, and yellow-spotted monitor lizards move across the tall grasses. Woodlands drape across the slopes with acacia and eucalyptus trees. Your private transfer will meet you at the airstrip and escort you to a spectacular resort hotel that overlooks the serene waters that splash at the shore. You can relax on your private deck and listen to the water’s tranquil movement while a sea-eagle circles overhead and you spot a monitor lizard lounging on a granite boulder near the water, soaking up the sunlight.
Lizard Island is nearly four square miles and reaches a height of more than 1,175 feet above sea level. In the morning, the aroma of fresh coconut lingers in the air as the gentle waves continue to brush against the shoreline. Lizard tracks linger in the sand as white-tailed tropicbirds soar through the temperate sky with their slender central tail feather dangling in tow like a fluttering ribbon. After breakfast, the day is yours to indulge in the beauty and charm of Lizard Island at your leisure. Take to the water on a paddleboard to enjoy the serene quality of the Coral Sea or don a snorkel and fins to view the vibrant life along the beachside reefs.
For a thorough exploration of the island and a glimpse into its captivating history, you can make your way to the Lizard Island Research Station. The Australian Museum operates the facilities to provide research and educational studies of the coral reefs. More than 1,000 publications have been produced by international researchers that have visited the Lizard Island station since its inception in the early 1970s. A trail will lead you to the edges of the facility nestled in the trees above the coastline as speedboats and dinghies abound alongside the structures. Palm trees sway and eucalyptus provide a herbaceous scent while the resident researchers will eagerly welcome you to the grounds and happily offer real insight into the vast information of the Great Barrier Reef.
The sunlight will wash over the ruins of Watsons Cottage, a historical home on Lizard Island erected in the 1880s. The remaining stone walls rise out of the tall tufts of grass in view of the sapphire water and textured mountain ridges. After breakfast, you will board a luxury catamaran and make your way off the island for a day spent along the Outer Reef, a stunning portion of the Great Barrier Reef that edges the open Pacific Ocean. The shallow waters are graced with pockets of coral silhouettes that fade to deeper, cobalt waters. You will have learned at the research center that the Great Barrier Reef encompasses nearly 133,000 square miles and stretches from Cape York Peninsula in Australia’s north to Bundaberg in the south, and seeing it with your own eyes will be extraordinary.
Once in the water, the familiar warmth will embrace you with tiny salt crystals clinging to your shoulders. The coral shines brighter and grows larger without the confines of fringing islands or shallow waters. Elkhorn coral spreads upwards from the seafloor like an acacia tree, reaching a diameter of 12 feet. Blue coral catches the sunlight and glint against the pebbled and sandy floor. Soft carnation coral shimmers with colors and ruffles similar to its namesake flower as parrotfish shine with pastel hues causing the marvelous rainbow colors of the coral to muddle. The parrotfish can grow longer than four feet and have a parrot-like beak used for grasping at algae.
Queensland is filled with lush tropical rainforest with islands shaped by the movement of the Great Barrier Reef. Your 10-day tour will feature a variety of islands that dot the seaside to offer you a unique and luxurious exploration of tropical island life along Australia’s east coast. Your flight will land at Cairns Airport where your private transfer will greet you upon arrival. Make your way to your fabulous hotel on the shores of Cairns which will bring you your first glimpse of the idyllic scenery of framing rainforest and ubiquitous glistening ocean. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the seaside ambiance of Cairns, from the esplanade to the Flecker Botanic Gardens.
Wake the next morning to board your catamaran at the marina and venture to the beautiful soft sands and rainforest-clad interior of Green Island for your introduction to the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Stroll along the boardwalk through the trees or lounge on the soft white sand for views of the pockets of reef bodies that fringe the shallow seafloor before returning to Cairns for the evening. The next day, return to the marina and make your way to the Fitzroy Island, home to granite boulders, colorful reefs, and a summit with a magnificent lookout. The day is yours on the island to snorkel or trek the trails, or you could also see the sea turtles at the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.
The following day your private transfer will meet you at your hotel to escort you to the Cairns Airport for your scenic flight to Lizard Island. Upon landing at the airstrip, make your way to your gorgeous resort and settle into the comforts of your seaside view and your private deck. Linger on the island trails to discover the 24 separate white sand beaches at your leisure. The next day is yours to enjoy the island as you desire, from paddleboarding to kayaking, indulging in the renowned spa or partaking in bird watching. You could also visit Lizard Island Research Station to learn about the surrounding ecosystem from scientists on location.
Venture next out another catamaran straight out to the open water to reach the Great Barrier Reef’s Outer Reef. Snorkel or scuba dive to experience the true wonders of the hidden underwater world before returning to Lizard Island. After breakfast the next morning, fly back to Cairns for your transfer flight to Airlie Beach. Your private transfer will then escort you to the Port of Airlie to board a luxury catamaran bound for Hayman Island. Sip a glass of complimentary champagne during the short, scenic ride to the secluded shoreline where you will easily settle into the comforts of your resort.
Begin the next day as you traverse the various trails of Hayman Island in search of stunning views, secluded bays, and marvelous wildlife. Take to the sea once more the following day with a sailing tour around the Whitsundays Archipelago. Weight anchor at Whitehaven Beach to linger on the silica sand and find a breathtaking panorama of Hill Inlet, where white sand and azure water swirl together. Conclude as your luxury catamaran will bring you back to Airlie Beach where you will continue to Whitsunday Airport for your flight home.
$1995 per person (excluding international flights)
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