orpheus island

[spotlight series. arie prabowo]

[orpheus soundtrack. without you]

Orpheus Island Resort is a little known jewel in the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. A spectacularly beautiful, intimate and remote island resort surrounded by national park, this is a true tropical paradise. The island itself has 11km of coastline (most of which is bordered by the national park) and is surrounded by impossibly turquoise waters. This is the ultimate picture-perfect, pinch-yourself setting. Palm trees (have you ever met a silver “Bismarckia” palm? wow), tropical plants, a heavenly infinity pool overlooking the quiet beach, beautiful suites, outrageously comfy big white canvas hammocks, and endless options for action (think fishing charters, sunset cruises, paddleboarding, kayaking, day spa-ing, etc etc) or relaxation instead.

From the moment you arrive, the island’s super friendly staff welcome you like old friends. You are greeted with big smiles, trays of champagne and perfect chilled tunes that just float along in the background. Ranaul Crabb runs the show and is an incredible host. His lovely staff will have remembered your names within minutes of meeting you, they will remember your coffee order and have it delivered to your breakfast table each morning before you can utter the words “cappuccino please”, they will bring you sparkling water refills by the pool (because you opted for sparkling rather than still the day before), they will remember that you really, really like Aperol Spritzing (but with Campari instead), and that, if possible, you always prefer your scrambled eggs to be on the runny side. This is personalized service at its finest, and attention to detail like nothing we have experienced anywhere before.

All meals are included, and Indonesian chef Arie Prabowo, ensures you have something beautiful, interesting and delicious on your plate every time. He is also more than happy to tailor the menu to your liking. The onsite herb and vegetable garden (which is worth having a look at) plays a big part in meal time. Dinner time is quite fancy and there will be a personalized menu (with your name printed on top) waiting for you on the table setting out four courses you will soon enjoy. Where i had sashimi for my starter, my friend (who is pregnant) might have had something vegetarian instead. Or perhaps a grilled version of whatever raw thing i was eating. Thoughtful and considered each time. Some wines (by Victoria’s Fowles winery) are included. We loved their chardonnay and shiraz. If you are wanting to try something different though, there is a more thorough wine list on offer and those wines can be purchased separately. Our favorite meal of the day though was lunch - a different theme each day. We were taken from Indonesia to Mexico to Japan and on to the Middle East over the four days we were there. Lunch was more about big family-style, share plates with lots of color and flavor. The way we like to eat.

For lodging, there are four different room categories, each at different price points. If budget is no issue, we suggest going for south suite one or two. These large, spacious, light-filled suites are totally lush and come complete with your own private outdoor tub. Old black and white photos of the island back in the 50s line the walls, the beds are covered in pale pastel linens, the fridge is stocked with cold beer, wine and champagne, there is good coffee, iPod docks, robes, and so on. Enough to make you feel very much at home. You cant go wrong with any of the room types though (because lets face it, its not like you're going to be in the room much anyway).

Our island mornings would begin with a few laps of the pool, followed by a huge and delicious breakfast, and then some stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking out to the mangroves (before the tide went out), followed by lunch and a walk (at low tide) to visit the sea garden full of giant clams (these things are amazing)!!! For those interested in reef life, there is a reef research centre on the island which is also worth visiting. In the afternoons, we would bounce between pool and beach (and pool and beach), until it was time for our afternoon spritz. A long and indulgent dinner would follow, and we would then be tucked up in bed by 930pm. The luxury of island days that seem to go on forever. Just perfection.

At some point during your stay you will also get to enjoy a cute concept they call “dining with the tides”. This is where two couples are set up on the jetty with a silver service degustation experience. It was a full moon the night we were out there, and the tides were high. We saw stingrays racing below us. It almost felt like we were dining on a boat. Dinner started with an appetizer of 36 Hour Marinated Ocean Trout (with preserved lemon, apple celery foam, green sauce and radicchio), followed by pan seared dive scallop (with cauliflower, turmeric crisp and macadamia), and then fillet mignon (with capsicum jus, garlic cream, beetroot, spiced red wine, and roasted potato swisschard), with a hazelnut praline semifreddo with salted caramel and spiced chocolate for dessert. Needless to say, we were so full (but so happy) that we pretty much had to be rolled off the jetty back to our room! It was a fun experience.

To get to Orpheus, you need to find your way to either Townsville (closer) or Cairns airports. From there, the lovely folk at Nautilus Aviation will take you across to the island by helicopter. From Townsville its a short 20min hop. We must say, it was quite the rockstar arrival. The views on the trip over the Great Barrier Reef were incredible.

The whole trip to Orpheus completely blew our mind. Not just for its spectacular natural beauty, but for every little detail we were lucky enough to experience from the minute we arrived to the minute we (sadly) had to leave. It was an island we knew very little about, but very quickly got to love. Its a special place, and one that we are so happy to share with you.