Magnetic Island began "life" as a holiday-home getaway for Townsville residents; only recently has it attracted the kind of large-scale development that has transformed other islands near the Barrier Reef. Accommodations here are a mix of functional 1970s properties; small budget lodges; and newer, upmarket but relatively small apartment complexes and resorts. Luxurious Peppers Blue on Blue Resort is an exception to the rule.
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Fitzroy Island Resort
Bedarra Island Resort
This unpretentious, eco-friendly resort epitomizes laid-back luxury, with sleekly appointed beachfront rooms, suites, and villas; romantic dining; boutique wines; and numerous outdoor activities included in the rate. Beachfront rooms come with modern furnishings and private patios, air-conditioning, and lots of creature comforts: well-stocked minibars, coffeemakers, iPod docks, and flat-screen LED TVs. With only 28 guests, no one competes for watercraft near the beaches, or lounges around the infinity pool. Breakfasts are leisurely à la carte affairs, and tapas-style lunches are served alfresco. Nightly degustation dinners showcase locally sourced ingredients—many from the resort's sustainable veggie garden—and freshly caught seafood, served in the open-sided restaurant. Snorkeling, diving and fishing excursions, joyflights, and cruises to neighboring islands are easily scheduled, as are treatments at the tranquil day spa. Rates, discounted for longer stays, include all meals, select boutique wines, beers and soft drinks at dinner, unlimited use of dinghies, nonmotorized watercraft, light fishing tackle and snorkeling gear, and one nature-based island activity a day. Don't miss the resort's signature "Dining with the Tides." Watching fish jump from your candlelit table on the jetty is an Orpheus must-do.
Fitzroy Island Resort
Budget-conscious families and backpackers are the main guests in the one- and two-bedroom ocean suites, beach cabins, resort studio, and four-bedroom penthouse units on this reef-fringed tropical island. Rooms have a Balinese feel, with tropical ceiling fans, but have modern bathrooms, luxury appointments and LCD TVs. Pricier accommodations have balconies from which to admire the ocean or garden, and, in all but the beach cabins and studios, full kitchen and laundry facilities. The resort's owners also manage the backpacker village, which has 11 twin-share rooms for divers and budget travelers, and communal kitchen and leisure facilities. There's a beach-front pool, a noisy adjacent games area, and live entertainment most weekends. There's also a resort pool, a day spa, a cinema screening three movies daily, and play rooms for the kids.
Bedarra Island Resort
Billing itself as "the ultimate in barefoot luxury," the laid-back, exclusive Bedarra Island Resort hosts no more than 14 guests in modern, eco-friendly accommodations, spoiling them with fine food and service, and five-star amenities. A handful of split-level villas and two open-plan pavilions are scattered about the resort grounds. All five villas have large furnished balconies or decks; some have outdoor showers, daybeds, and plunge pools. The secluded beachfront pavilions have airy "living" and "sleeping" areas, king-size "floating" beds, huge furnished sundecks, and oceanfront private pools. Guests congregate in the open-sided restaurant for tropical buffet breakfasts, varied lunch offerings, and multi-course dinners that showcase seafood and regional produce. Dishes change daily and can be tailored to guests' tastes. All meals and drinks are included in the rate, and there's a 24-hour, serve-yourself open bar. Nature-based activities and use of water-sports equipment are complimentary, as is snorkeling on the island's reef, exploring neighboring isles by dinghy, and paddleboarding with turtles off the island's main beach. If you're bent on getting out to the Great Barrier Reef, sailing, diving, sightseeing, and game-fishing trips can be arranged.
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