Nestled among the 74 Whitsunday Islands sits the jewel in Queensland’s tourism crown, Daydream Island.
Picture sparkling turquoise waters lapping the white sandy beach outside. Colourful native birds fly against a backdrop of Australia’s bright blue sky as I sip a mojito, and one friendly wallaroo bounces over to sniff my hand. I’m swaying in a hammock on one of the most untouched, beautiful and luxurious locations in the world. It’s a desert island paradise – the kind you want to be stuck on forever.
After it was destroyed in March 2017 by Cyclone Debbie, Daydream Island Resort underwent a $100m refurbishment and, in April this year, it opened its doors to the public once again. Situated on one of seven Australian Molle Islands, it’s an environmentally-friendly hub, conservation site to underwater wildlife and the perfect getaway for young families, couples and independent travellers alike.
Now encompassed by 200m of living reef, the resort’s 277 rooms and three restaurants offer an isolated relaxation experience and breathtaking views across the Whitsunday Passage to the other untouched islands.
My sister and I arrive at Daydream via a 20-minute boat trip from Hamilton Island and are shown to our clean and stylish superior ocean view twin room, which backs on to a wallaroo paddock.
We quickly learn that across the island, the wildlife runs free and we’re greeted daily by curious cockatoos and inquisitive wallaroos.
If the spectacular view from your room isn’t enough, the island has plenty of sheltered hotspots. Lovers Cove, a popular proposal location before the island was hit by the cyclone, allows you to watch the sunset over the blue horizon while friendly wallaroos trot around you.
The Living Reef is one of the main attractions at the resort – and rightly so. Holding more than a million litres of water, the reef is home to an array of marine fish, rays, baby sharks and all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures. The tank and underwater observatory allows you to experience the Great Barrier Reef on a smaller scale, whether you fancy getting into the water or not.
By standing in reef water to just below your knees, the Stingray Splash activity allows you to feed and stroke the resident baby rays that fl it around your legs.
Before dipping your toes into the water, the on-site biologists explain how swimming alongside these sea creatures is safe because the barb of the stingrays has been removed. The slimy but friendly rays are like ‘puppies, excited for their first meal of the day,’ one guest says, and I couldn’t agree more.
For the full experience, we descend into the main Living Reef lagoon. With our snorkels on, we swim above shovelnose rays and bamboo sharks and meet the friendliest stingray of them all, Louann.
The Living Reef experience is one I would highly recommend – it’s a safe and informative tour of a man-made reef home to more than 100 species. While it replicates a reef, it doesn’t cause irrevocable damage to the wildlife’s home, unlike tours of the country’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, and the creatures’ behaviour is closely monitored to ensure they are happy and healthy.
The three restaurants have something for everyone. Infinity, which is the most expensive, offers an Asian fusion dining experience whereas Graze, a modern buffet, presents international dishes. My favourite is Inkstone Kitchen and Bar, which offers the best Australian meat and seafood dishes, which always satisfies my tastebuds.
Alongside the on-site activity programme – which includes sunset yoga, wildlife walks and talks and underwater adventures – the accommodating Daydream team also off er excursions, including a trip to the famous Whitehaven Beach.
The GSL Marine team, partnered with Daydream Island, whisk us away on their speedboat for a full-day tour of Whitehaven Island.
This includes a stop at Hill Inlet Lookout to gaze across the pastel blue waters and a stay on Whitehaven itself. Deemed as one of the best beaches in the world, its crystal-clear waters and reflective sand is indeed an Australian paradise.
Daydream Island doesn’t disappoint when it comes to luxury and relaxation.
The resort works in natural harmony with the island’s wildlife, promising guests a holiday like no other. I would be back in a heartbeat – if only it wasn’t thousands of miles away.
Island transfers from Hamilton Island to Daydream by Cruise Whitsundays start from £37. Standard rooms at Daydream Island Resort start from £392 per night for three people.
For more details, go to daydreamisland.com.