BOAP: Australia’s Most Luxurious Dives
Diving doesn’t have to be a question of pinching pennies, pitching in and bunking down. Diving holidays can be a completely indulgent and special time when the topside amenities compliment, and even enhance, the underwater extravaganza. We’ve explored some of Australia’s top luxury places for those times when you simply want to immerse your senses above and below the watermark.
By Sue Crowe | Scuba Diver AA Issue 3/2011
Far North Queensland
1. Lizard Island
An absolutely stunning retreat on a tiny island in Far North Queensland, this is the ultimate spot for luxurious seclusion, facilities and diving. Lizard Island is right on the doorstep of the world famous Cod Hole and many other brilliant dive sites of the Northern Great Barrier Reef. With the resort’s own boat, dive facilities and instructors, you can take your pick of fabulous places to dive and discover.
2. The qualia resort – Hamilton Island
The famous qualia (pronounced kwah·lee·ah and always written stylistically in lowercase), offers a unique blend of Australian world-class luxury. Situated on the secluded northern-most tip of Hamilton Island, qualia is right in the middle of the divine Whitsunday Islands and, just as importantly, perched on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
3. Sal Salis – Ningaloo Reef
Camping is synonymous with roughing it, right? The antithesis of luxury? Think again. Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef is an exclusive safari camp hidden in the white sand dunes of Western Australia’s Cape Range National Park. Only nine spacious wilderness tents wait just metres from the water’s edge and the world’s greatest fringing coastal coral reef. Something completely different, Sal Salis accommodation and hosting style exudes "wild bush luxury" and Sal Salis’ guides deliver an extraordinary insight into one of Australia’s best-kept natural secrets – Ningaloo Reef.
New South Wales
4. Aanuka Beach Resort – Coffs Harbour
Aanuka Beach Resort boasts absolute beachfront at Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales (NSW) mid-North Coast. This 4-star resort is 30 metres from Diggers Beach and is the perfect spot to enjoy the diving and return to be pampered and fed in the award-winning Finz restaurant. Coffs Harbour sits on the doorstep to one of New South Wales' best dive locations, the Solitary Islands Marine Park, and to take you there is Banana Coast Divers a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort facility.
New South Wales
5. Peppers Anchorage – Port Stephens
Nestled between rugged bushes and built in the style of a cosy fishing village, Peppers Anchorage is a boutique resort offering luxury seaside accommodation in the beautiful New South Wales region of Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Overlooking the Anchorage Marina, Corlette Beach and the unspoilt waters of Port Stephens, Peppers Anchorage features 80 luxurious rooms in four interlinked guesthouses lining the marina’s edge. After a day diving you can further immerse with an indulgent spa treatment, or tempt your taste buds with a delicious feast of fresh local seafood at Merretts restaurant.
6. Southern Ocean Lodge – Kangaroo Island
Southern Ocean Lodge has been said to be among a new breed of Australian luxury eco-lodges. Achieving international recognition for offering true comfort in the rugged environment of South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, the lodge is situated in a region that has been called “Australia’s answer to the Galapagos.” Floating atop a secluded cliff on a rugged stretch of coast, the lodge commands peerless views of the wild Southern Ocean and pristine Kangaroo Island wilderness. Southern Ocean Lodge uses Kangaroo Island Dive and Adventures as their preferred operator.