The Top Hotels Along the Great Barrier Reef

Accommodations near the Great Barrier Reef take advantage of their incredible surroundings, offering access to far more than just scuba diving. Options range from family-friendly resorts to adults-only retreats, ensuring you’ll find your paradise.

Highlights
Lizard Island, Cairns QLD 4871, Australia
At Lizard Island, luxurious amenities meet an ecologically diverse island paradise. The sole resort on the island, the exclusive spot features 40 rooms as well as 24 private beaches, all but guaranteeing your own pristine sliver of paradise. Accommodations range from posh villas set apart from one another (including the two-bedroom, cliff-top villa, with its 26-foot pool and endless views of the Coral Sea), to garden-view rooms with private terraces and pathways leading directly to Anchor Bay beach. Furnishings follow a tranquil white-and-gray color scheme, while amenities include LCD smart TVs and Apple docking stations. Guests also receive their own motorized dinghy, standup paddleboards, clear-view sea kayaks, and snorkeling gear for exploring Giant Clam gardens and the schools of brightly colored fish in the surrounding waters. The more adventurous can even arrange for private deep-sea dives to locations accessed exclusively by the Lizard Island Marine & Dive team, ensuring you’ll have the coral reefs all to yourself.
9 Resort Drive
While some Great Barrier Reef resorts require private plane charter, this 57-room boutique resort is located on Hamilton Island—the only one in the Whitsundays with a commercial airport—meaning it’s easily reached by a direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or Cairns. Each room, situated on the tranquil, white-sand Catseye Beach, has a bright Aussie vibe, with lots of natural wood, Aesop toiletries, and private terraces or balconies offering palm-fringed ocean views. The resort’s adults-only policy ensures bliss awaits at the infinity pool overlooking the beach, or below on the portion of Catseye reserved for Beach Club guests. Also on offer is complimentary watersports gear, from snorkeling equipment to catamarans. The resort can even arrange for helicopter and seaplane rides, or diving excursions to secluded sections of the Great Barrier Reef.
20 Whitsunday Boulevard
Islands trace the Great Barrier Reef up the northeastern coast of Australia, clustering in the clear blue waters known as the Whitsundays. There, nestled on Hamilton Island, Qualia has set a new standard for Australian tourism—and resorts worldwide. What is magical about Qualia, however, is not just the champagne on arrival, or the fact that some rooms have their own plunge pools. The winning feature here is how perfectly the resort fits into the natural beauty of the island, almost disappearing into the eucalyptus trees of the surrounding rain forest. Understated and sophisticated, Qualia fosters a sensitive connection to the environment, allowing guests to experience Australia without all the usual tourist fanfare.

Rooms look through natural bushland out to the water and surrounding islands, where dolphins are frequently spotted. They also come with their own electric golf carts, which guests can use to tour the entire island. In the epic Long Pavilion, floor-to-ceiling windows on the seaward side open to an infinity pool, while glass windows at the other end offer views of the resort’s bright tropical landscaping.
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