Magnificent, breath-taking, a natural treasure — such is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world. Located off the coast of Queensland in northern Australia, this 2,300km-long marine ecosystem is considered as the biggest living thing on Earth that is visible from outer space and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

 

Scenic Flight, Lady Elliot Island, QLD

Lady Elliot Island, one of the coral cays of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s most remarkable natural wonder.

The Great Barrier Reef is believed to have been formed some 18 million years ago by tiny living organisms known as coral polyps. In the centuries of the Reef’s existence, it has undergone a continuous cycle of evolution as corals grow, thrive, and die, and newer reefs form while expanding and retreating due to the changing water temperatures and sea levels. Today, this World Heritage Site is home to over 3,000 different reefs, 600 coral islands, 300 coral cays, and 150 mangrove islands on the mainland’s edge. Hundreds of marine species including fish, whales, dolphins, sharks, jellyfish, and molluscs have also made the Reef home.

 

Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, QLD - Virgin Australia

Already breath-taking at a glance, the Reef holds thousands of coral reefs and a diverse species of marine life.

Scuba Diving Fitzroy Reef Lagoon

The Great Barrier Reef is best experienced through scuba diving or snorkelling, as seen here, or even from above via a chartered plane.

You can get a closer peek at this world-famous site during April, as ABC TV Australia premieres David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef. This 3-part series features the Reef’s formation and ecosystems, as well as the dangers it currently faces from human impact and climate change. The new documentary aims to raise awareness of the importance of preserving this precious and fragile natural gem while showcasing its awe-inspiring beauty.

If, after watching the documentary, you decide to experience the Great Barrier Reef just as Sir David Attenborough has, we’ve hand picked three of the best Queensland luxury accommodation options from which to best explore this rich and diverse ecosystem:
 

1. qualia, Hamilton Island, QLD

 
qualia - luxury lodge Hamilton Island

LOCATION: Hamilton Island, Whitsundays, QLD | GETTING THERE: 1 hour 45 min flight from Brisbane | RATES FROM: AUD $1,050 p/n

One of Australia’s most renowned and finest luxury lodges places you amidst dazzling sapphire waters, white-sand beaches, and remarkable coral reef formations. qualia is situated at the northernmost point of Hamilton Island, amongst the 74 islands of The Whitsundays, making it a perfect spot to see and feel the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkel right at Pebble Beach or at Henning Island, or let qualia’s Activities Team suggest another great diving location. Take a helicopter or seaplane and fly to the Great Barrier Reef where you can discover its unique coral formations and biodiversity. But if you don’t feel like wading in the waters, that’s no problem — you can ask the Team to just drop you off at Fitzalan so you can enjoy a private gourmet picnic while savouring the dreamy natural surroundings. Or charter a private yacht and cruise through The Whitsundays, a glass of champagne in hand.

As the day draws to a close, retreat into any of the resort’s 60 private pavilions, each exquisitely designed and boasting romantic, uninterrupted views of the sea. Indeed, all throughout the day, qualia brings you a pleasurable sensory experience of the Great Barrier Reef. No wonder this has become a choice hideaway for couples and honeymooners.

Read more about qualia.
 

2. Bedarra Island Villa, Beddara Island, QLD

 
Bedarra Island Villa - Luxury Villa - Barrier Reef

LOCATION: East Bedarra Island, QLD | GETTING THERE: 45 min helicopter flight from Cairns | RATES FROM: AUD $880 p/n

A private enclave where the Great Barrier Reef is literally at your doorstep. Such defines Bedarra Island Villa, an exclusive two-acre estate that wraps around a palm-fringed white sand beach in Doorila Cove. Here, you can enjoy complete privacy as there is no public access; you are able to explore the wonders of the Reef and the resort’s surroundings with ease and at your own pace.

With a picture-perfect beachfront location, the villa allows you to participate in a wide variety of water sports and activities. Swim in the clear waters of Coral Sea or go snorkelling to discover the different species of fish that consider this area home. Explore the cove in a kayak or maybe try a spot of fishing — Bedarra has all the equipment you need. Arrange for a reef tour with the villas’s caretakers. Go on a beach picnic during the day. Or simply marvel at the blue sky, crystalline sea, and fine sands while immortalising them as a photograph or painting.

You can also relish the majesty of the Reef from your accommodation. The villa and accompanying studio are right on the beach and have fantastic views of the Coral Sea and neighbouring islands, even extending to the Great Barrier Reef and beyond the South Pacific. If you wish to set the stage for romance, Bedarra Island Villa is a superb getaway option.

Read more about Bedarra Island Villa.
 

3. Alinghi Beach House, Agnes Water, QLD

 
Alinghi Beach House - Luxury Holiday HOme Southern Barrier Reef

LOCATION: Agnes Water, Town of 1770, QLD | GETTING THERE: 1 hour 30 min drive from Gladstone| RATES FROM: AUD $875 p/n

The historical town of Agnes Water is considered as the closest access point to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. And this fact makes Alinghi Beach House the ideal jumping-off point to discover Australia’s natural wonder.

From this luxury retreat, you can go snorkelling or scuba diving, and even swimming with the turtles at the Reef. You may also go surfing, fishing, and kayaking, or explore Lady Musgrave Island that has a deepwater coral lagoon. See unspoilt estuaries and coastal rainforests. Or watch spectacular sunsets while having a picnic by the beach.

When you feel exhausted from the day’s activities, relax in Alinghi’s first-rate accomodation. Large floor-to-ceiling windows create a sense of seamlessness from the indoors to the outdoors. The beach house also has a direct access to the private beach at Honeymoon Bay.

Also worth noting is the fact that Alinghi is an ultra-private hideaway: access here is restricted and by invitation only. If a place you can truly call your own in the Great Barrier Reef is what you’re after, choose to stay at Alinghi — touted by the UK Independent as one of the world’s top 5 beach houses.

Read more about Alinghi Beach House.

The Great Barrier Reef is a wondrous gift of nature that every traveller must experience for themselves. And from these three properties, you get to be up close and personal with the bounty and beauty of this renowned destination.

Watch a 360-degree video of the Great Barrier Reef:

For more information or assistance planning your Great Barrier Reef holiday, contact one of our Getaway Specialists.

Image Credits: Tourism Australia, Tourism and Events Queensland & Virgin Australia.