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A Whitsundays eco-escape

09:00 AEST Thu Nov 11 2010
What a decision for Kelly Landry. Where to stay? She was in the Whitsunday Islands off Airlie Beach in Queensland where there are more holiday options than anywhere else on the Great Barrier Reef. There are 10 resorts on eight islands.

After a busy year, she felt like some time out to recharge, and decided to visit Paradise Bay Eco Escape on Long Island. It has a maximum of 20 guests at one time — no children, day visitors, mobile phone reception or internet.

Long Island is reached by a 10-minute helicopter flight from Hamilton Island and from above Kelly knew she had made the right decision. Long Island is around 9km long and 2km wide. It is densely forested and has a rocky coastline with small, sandy beaches. Paradise Bay has its own deserted 80m stretch of sand.

Guests are greeted at the helicopter pad with a warm welcome and cold sparkling wine. There's no formal reception area. Guests are taken to the island gazebo where and owner, Peter Spann, says there are just three things you need to know: what time breakfast is served, what time the boat leaves and when cocktails are served. Tell them what you do and don't like to eat and you're ready to stroll to your bungalow.

All 10 bungalows have verandahs, and king-sized beds are dreamily comfortable and dressed with cool cotton sheets and light cotton waffle blankets. Duck down quilts are used in cooler months. Rain is collected for showering and it's the most silky water imaginable. A solar system heats it up and you can indulge yourself with all-natural, bio-dynamic Jurlique products.

At cocktail hour, guests mingle and share tales of their day's adventures over a drink. Meals are served in a wilderness, rainforest and reef setting at a long, candlelit communal table. If you prefer to eat alone, you can dine in your bungalow. Snacks are available all day.

The retreat's 10m catamaran is at your disposal, and there's nothing like heading out to the reef for a spot of snorkelling and enjoying a picnic on a deserted beach. You can kayak out and look for turtles or wander along one of the walking tracks.

It's no wonder Paradise Bay was named 2010's No.1 hotel in Australia for romance by travel website TripAdvisor.

The retreat has a resident wallaby named Edwina and a curlew named Edgar. They usually visit at meal times.

Related gallery: Whitsundays without a timetable

Related gallery: Whitsundays' Koala Adventure Island

Related gallery: Sailing the wicked Whitsundays


Long Island in the Whitsundays.


Paradise Bay Eco Escape rooms start at $498 per person a night twin-share. All meals and snacks, alcohol with dinner, use of catamaran, fast rib boat, snorkelling and kayaking equipment and return helicopter transfers from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach are included. There is a minimum three-night stay. Book four nights and receive one free. Available for stays until December 20, 2010.

Return helicopter transfers from Hamilton Island are $290 per person.

Virgin Blue has one-way flights to Hamilton Island from:

  • Brisbane $88
  • Sydney $169
  • Melbourne $179
  • Canberra $200
  • Adelaide $249
  • Hobart $270
  • Perth $319
  • Darwin $329

There are limited seats, which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at October 21, 2010, and are subject to change.

Prices correct at November 11, 2010.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

Paradise Bay Eco Escape
PO Box 842
South Long Island
Whitsundays Islands 4802
Ph: (07) 4946 9777
Fax: (07) 3031 9911

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