31 Dec Wilson Island – the perfect romantic getaway
Looking for the perfect romantic getaway? I know it’s a bit of a cliché to be marooned on a tropical island, but when that actually happened to me as part of a trip to perform a 25th Wedding Anniversary Vow Renewal ceremony (see related post here), it was both a challenge and a blessing. Ultimately, it turned out to be the most perfect location for a romantic, secluded getaway!
First stop – family-friendly Heron Island
First stop was Heron Island approximately 75 kilometres off the Queensland coast from Gladstone. It is from Heron that you travel to the remote Wilson Island, another five kilometres east on the Great Barrier Reef. Heron is a family-friendly island, with lots of activities for young and old. The plan was to spend three nights on Heron, acclimatising to tropical island life by indulging in the delights of snorkelling on the reef; dolphin, whale, turtle, shark and manta-ray spotting; and drinking champagne at sunset.
The trip to Heron from Gladstone had been ‘rocky’ to say the least, with 20 knot winds and two metre waves on the two-hour boat ride! Needless to say, a number of our party, and most of the boat passengers, spent the journey feeling worse for wear. By the time we arrived at Heron we had already made a pact to make the return trip by helicopter!
The accommodation on Heron, scattered amongst the trees, some with water views, is simple – appropriate for island life! The central restaurant and bar areas are open and casual, with the food of a high standard.
Great Barrier Reef – a cacophony of marine life
While on Heron Island, visiting the UQ Turtle Research Station and getting within whisper distance of the setting sun on a dusk cruise are two ‘must-do’ activities. A snorkel to the ‘turtle cleaning station’ where the animals gather to have their shells ‘cleaned’ by nibbling fish, is also a must! The array of fish-life on the reef is truly magnificent, and despite the coral being mostly brown (very healthy and normal so I discovered) the fish make up for the lack of coral colour by displaying a cacophony of vibrant patterns, hues, shapes and sizes. You can hire everything you need – wet suits and snorkelling equipment – on the island, so there’s no need to take your own.
Wilson Island – romantic ‘glamping’ getaway
After a couple of days on Heron Island we were advised that the winds had not dropped ‘at sea’ and our crossing to Wilson, which is via an 8-seater boat, was at risk unless we made the decision to go immediately and be prepared to get ‘stuck’ there for a few extra days, until the wind eased. It took us about five seconds to say “we’ll take the risk” and less than an hour later we were on a white-water ‘roller-coaster’ 30-minute ride across the ocean to our remote tropical paradise.
I had dreamed of holidaying on Wilson Island ever since I had seen images of its glamping tents, within tiptoeing distance of the impossibly pristine sand to the blue-green reef beyond, decades previously. I had always imagined it as the perfect romantic getaway for a honeymoon, anniversary, milestone birthday or a wedding or vow renewal ceremony!
Recently reopened after an upgrade, the island is an adults-only, secluded retreat that will ensure you get totally ‘off-grid’ while still enjoying the finer things in life. A resident chef and manager will ensure you are well fed and watered with all-inclusive sumptuous meals and bottomless drinks. This allows you to focus on snorkelling with turtles, basking in sunshine, luxuriating in a hammock, and sipping champagne at sunset.
Seclusion – a perfect, blissful experience!
If you haven’t done a digital detox before I can highly recommend it! With no internet, phone, television or newspapers, being cut off from the outside world, particularly the daily COVID updates, was a welcome relief. I slept like a baby and relaxed in a way I hadn’t done in years.
Romance, renewal, rest and relaxation…
As well as performing the vow renewal ceremony on the beach, our days were a dreamy sequence of walking, snorkelling, sunbathing, swimming, reading, sleeping, eating and chatting with the other guests. As you do when you are stranded on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere, we had now bonded with our fellow guests!
Camping with ‘extras’
With a maximum of 18 guests at a time (and when we were there, only 4 couples were holidaying on the island), it feels like your own personal slice of paradise. Each couple is assigned a private and secluded ‘tent’, with a shower in the shared ablutions block. Toilets are of the ‘flushing’ kind and come complete with luxurious amenities. Meeting for drinks and meals in the communal dining area – open to the breezy sea air – was a ritual we came to excitedly anticipate!
Unfortunately, after four days, the seas died down and we had to make the trip back to Heron. We then helicoptered back to Gladstone, which afforded us a magnificent view of the reef.
We vowed to return at the next opportunity as we all agreed it was one of the best holidays we had ever experienced!
Postscript – when booking Wilson Island there is a strong suggestion to purchase extra travel insurance. Based on our experience of staying an extra 2 nights on Wilson Island, I would highly recommend it!
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