Honeymoon in Epic AustraliaWords by Susan Moynihan
Australia is a big country – it’s the sixth largest, as a matter of fact, with landscape that varies from watery wonderland to arid Outback. To get the most from your honeymoon there, you want to pick a hotel that embraces its locale and offers unique ways to enjoy it. Here are my five favorite stops for exceptional only-in-Oz experiences.
SYDNEY: FOR ARCHITECTURE BUFFS
Australia’s largest city is arguably one of the prettiest in the world and most top hotels take advantage of it with sky-high lookouts over the Sydney Harbor. But Park Hyatt takes a different approach, with a waterfront setting that puts you at eye level with the iconic Sydney Opera House. The 155-room hotel spans a long, five-story footprint between the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, with the best rooms featuring open terraces with Opera or harbor views.
For Extra Credit: A behind-the-scenes tour of the Opera House gives you insight into the building’s history and architecture, as well as a peek at the lives of the people who perform there.
BLUE MOUNTAINS: FOR WILDLIFE CHASERS
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is a luxury lodge just a three-hour drive (or 45-minute heli ride) from Sydney, and set on 7,000 pristine acres bordering the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Whether you do a horseback trek, a bike ride through the bush or an evening Jeep safari, you’re guaranteed up-close sightings of kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and wallaroos. When you want to chill, the 40 stand-alone cottages offer the best in carbon-neutral luxury, with a cushy king bed, fireplace, wet bar and your own private swimming pool and solarium. Up by the striking, wood-beamed main lodge is the gorgeous infinity pool and stand-alone spa, as well as the main restaurant and bar.
For Extra Credit: Set up a picnic lunch at one of the covered decks scattered around the property. The driver unpacks the goodies and leaves you to enjoy the views in private – except for the ‘roos, of course.
GREAT BARRIER REEF SOUTH: FOR SEA LOVERS
The Whitsunday Islands are the gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Qualia is an exclusive resort which sits on the northernmost tip of the main island of Hamilton. Once you enter the gated enclave, 60 stand-alone one-bedroom pavilions scream romance with airy interiors, walls of windows and private plunge pools overlooking the sea. When you get the urge to mingle, take your golf cart and explore the adorable island. You can shop and hit the pub in town, play a round at Australia’s only championship island golf course or pose with Bobby the koala at the Wild Life Hamilton Island park.
For Extra Credit: Heli to the GBR first thing in the morning and snorkel before the ferry crowd arrives. On the way back, touch down for a swim at remote Whitehaven Beach, one of the top beaches in the world.
GREAT BARRIER REEF NORTH: FOR THE ROMANTIC DIVERS
If you want to immerse yourselves in nothing but sand, sea and each other, Lizard Island is a romantic, private-island resort and is just the spot. The northernmost beach resort in Australia, it has just 40 suites on a 1,000-acre footprint of protected land. Take a dip from one of the island’s 24 private beaches, some edged by reefs for easy snorkeling. The main Great Barrier Reef system itself is a short boat ride away, offering easy day excursions for snorkelers and divers alike. All-inclusive pricing covers meals, wine and many extras.
For Extra Credit: Head out on the resort’s private dive boat, MV Serranidae, for a half or full-day dive tour on the GBR, including stops at famous sites like Cod Hole.
RED CENTER: FOR NATURE LOVERS
Central Australia is home to one of the most unique landscapes on earth: a vibrant-hued desert marked by the two-mile-wide rock monolith, Uluru, which climbs 348 meters above the desert floor. Longitude 131° is a sumptuous tented camp situated in the middle of this wilderness. The 16 private tents have all the comforts of a luxury hotel (think A/C, ensuite bathrooms with solar-heated showers and organic linen-draped beds) with a sliding-glass wall and terrace overlooking Uluru. After a day spent exploring, hit the Dune House pool to rinse off the dust before joining other guests for drinks and dinner at the main lodge, all included in your stay.
For Extra Credit: Uluru is considered sacred to the native Aboriginal people, so climbing is discouraged. Instead, walk around the base with a guide who can explain its significance, then do a trip to Cave Hill to see indigenous rock art.
Learn more about The Honeymoonist, Susan Moynihan (a.k.a. Traveler in Chief), at thehoneymoonist.com
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Park Hyatt Sydney (1st, 2nd, 11th, 12th), qualia (3rd, 13th-15th), Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley (4th-6th), Longitude 131° (7th & 8th), Lizard Island (9th & 10th)
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