Volcanic in origin, this narrow island—11 km (7 miles) long and 1 km (½ mile) wide, 3,500 acres total—uncoils like a snake in the waters between Halifax Bay and the Barrier Reef. It's part of the Palm Island Group, which consists of 10 islands, 8 of which are Aboriginal reservations. Orpheus is a national park, occupied only by a marine research station and the island's resort, refurbished in early 2012 under its new, eco-conscious owners, who added a large vegetable garden, a solar hot-water system, and a 21,134-gallon water tank, as well as an infinity-edge pool and several beachfront villas linked by a rear boardwalk.
Although there are patches of rain forest in the island's deeper gullies and around its sheltered bays, Orpheus is a true Barrier Reef island, ringed by seven unspoiled sandy beaches and superb coral reefs. Amazingly, 340 of the known 359 species of coral inhabit these waters, as do more than 1,100 types of tropical fish and the biggest giant clams in the southern hemisphere. The local marine life is easily accessed and extraordinary.