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The 5 best eco stays in Tropical North Queensland

Tropical North Queensland has long carried the baton as an eco-tourism leader, and it’s now turning its attention to where you bed.

For thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Traditional Owners have protected the unique, natural landscapes of Tropical North Queensland. Today the region has the highest concentration of Ecotourism Australia-certified experiences in the country.

And its efforts are not just restricted to what you can do. Many accommodation providers are now also ensuring you can do the right thing for this spectacular environment, even as you sleep.

These are some of the best eco-retreats in Tropical North Queensland that all have the environment in mind.

Bedarra Island Resort is an island idyll in Tropical North Queensland

When Bedarra Island Resort says it offers a private sanctuary, it means it. The Cassowary Coast eco-retreat has just 10 villas, each secluded in 45 hectares of tropical rainforest. While privacy is at a premium, it doesn’t mean you won’t get five-star service.

Want a candlelit dinner for two, or to be whisked away by boat with a chef-prepared gourmet hamper to one of the nearby deserted islands? No problem. Sleep easy knowing there is an off-grid hybrid solar system for energy, water sourced from granite-filtered freshwater springs, and all cardboard, paper and plant waste is composted and used to fertilise the island’s vegetable gardens.

Bedarra Island Resort
Bedarra Island Resort
Bedarra is an all-inclusive, private, tropical haven in Tropical North Queensland.
Bedarra is an all-inclusive, private, tropical haven © Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Hinterland hideaway at Mt. Mulligan Lodge

In the Atherton Tablelands, two and a half hours from Cairns, you’ll find luxury outback getaway, Mt. Mulligan Lodge. Here, you’ll be one of just 28 guests staying on the 28,000-hectare property. Days in this ancient landscape will be spent wildlife spotting and sipping sundowners to a picture-perfect sky. And best of all, a portion of your payment goes to the Reef Keepers Fund – set up to protect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef. The property also recycles, composts, uses solar energy and collects rainwater for irrigation and watering.

Mt. Mulligan Lodge in Tropical North Queensland
Mt Mulligan Lodge © Tourism Tropical North Queensland

A treetop escape at Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Wake to the sound of nothing but birdsong in your boutique bungalow nestled in the forest canopy on the coast. This is life at Thala Beach Nature Reserve, a family-owned eco-retreat 15 minutes from Port Douglas and a world away from civilisation.

Hand-picked as a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, it’s been awarded for 10 consecutive years by Ecotourism Australia. Nature is writ large here with 200 bird species, wallabies, lizards and echidna. And when hunger calls, dine at on-site restaurant Ospreys, where you can sip your favourite beverage among the treetops with views across a sparkling ocean to the Great Barrier Reef.

You'll hear nothing but birdsong at Thala Beach Nature Reserve in Tropical North Queensland
You’ll hear nothing but birdsong at Thala Beach Nature Reserve © Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Reef House, Palm Cove

Long stretches of white sand beach, ancient Melaleuca trees, swaying palms and a tropical climate. Do holidays get any better? Adults-only Reef House is a plantation-style resort on the beachfront in the heart of Palm Cove. Retreat to the award-winning spa (using products that limit environmental impacts), dip into one of two pools, read a book in the library, or take a guided reef or rainforest tour. Then, as the sun sets, dine on fresh, locally sourced produce at the Reef House Restaurant like seared scallops and braised pork belly with pineapple and candied ginger jam, followed by squid-ink tagliatelle with Queensland tiger prawns.


Swaying palms and a sea breeze awaits at The Reef House
Swaying palms and a sea breeze awaits at The Reef House

Lizard Island

Remote, boutique and enveloped by national park – this is nature immersion at its best. Lizard Island is one of the only luxury resorts directly on the Great Barrier Reef, and only accessible by plane. There are just 40 rooms, suites and villas and your pick of private beaches. You’ll spend more time with the kaleidoscopic marine life than you will seeing fellow guests, but when you do come up for air, there’s gourmet food to be had before vast ocean vistas. And don’t miss a trip to the Research Station where you can learn about advances in reef conservation and research from the marine staff.

And breathe ... life on Lizard Island
And breathe … life on Lizard Island
Lizard Island
The Villa on Lizard Island © Tourism Tropical North Queensland

This article was produced in partnership with Tourism Tropical North Queensland.

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