Just as I sat down to write this post I jumped up for a quick drink – a cup of tea perhaps or maybe a nice cold glass of wine – it’s almost 5pm after all… I stood up, stretched and looked out the front of our little bungalow and there I saw it. Just like in London if you were to peer out your window and see a cat crawling a long, or let’s face it – a fox, there’s a little wallaby standing on my doorstep.
I’m staying for two nights at the Palm Bay resort, settled on Long Island in the Whitsundays, off the East of Australia. In our planning for a three week trip, this last stop before we head to Melbourne was the first accommodation we booked almost over a year ago.
The listing on booking.com seemed too good to be true – Under £200 for two nights in our own bungalow on the beach of a private island… so where’s the catch?
Well, it seemed there weren’t any. I’ll explain further on as to how there were a few things in our trip that could’ve been made smoother with a bit of a heads up from the island. But if you’re after true tranquillity and solitude then Palm Bay island can offer all that. However, if you’re after luxury and opulence then maybe nearby Hamilton Island might be more your bag, but otherwise… read on..
The island is by no means budget, but it is quiet, and if you’re after some time by yourself or with your partner then it certainly delivers. The self-catering island is made up of several beach-front cabins. These range from little one-bed huts with a small terrace and hammock, to large cabins with fuller terraces. The ocean at the front does swell quite a bit in the mornings, so from some cabins it seemed like you could walk out straight into the sea.
Apart from a small power cut on the second morning – easily rescued by boiling water for cups of tea on a gas hob, and washing ourselves with a quick dip in the swimming pool, it’s been a stay without a hitch.
One thing I’d comment about the resort is the preparation for your stay here is really to your own prerogative. Doing some research in the lead up to our stay – mainly by looking at other reviews on TripAdvisor – I gleaned that it was a self-catering resort with options to eat and drink at the local restaurant, but there were communal kitchens and a very small shop on site where you could buy groceries to cook (albeit it at a marked up price).
The island is a fully-licensed island so you’re technically not allowed to bring your own booze, although this was something we didn’t realise either so we rocked up with bottles of wine with us. They kindly turned a blind eye to this and we were able to still enjoy a glass of wine at the front of the hut in the evening – that was before we discovered that’s when the mosquitoes like to come out….
If you book a stay here and plan to arrive from the (arguably closer) airport on Hamilton Island, it will cost you an extra £30 pp to get onto a boat to jet over to the island. It should really be mentioned prior to booking, but you can’t complain especially when for us it was just us two on a boat for 12 people, with a really friendly captain.
When you book to stay at the island it comes with a range of activities you can enjoy for free, including kayaking, tennis, snorkelling and use of the facilities swimming pool. I had to put free into italics as of course everything that’s ‘free’ comes with added extras. To swim in Queensland in ‘stinger season’ you are highly advised to wear a stinger suit, which is something we decided to go for after googling what critters were out there waiting for us…
There was a hire cost for these suits, in addition to extras such as a glass bottom kayak etc. But it still didn’t push the boat of being too expensive overall.
For food, I mentioned earlier in the post that this is a self-catering island if you want it to be, but there is also a restaurant and bar on the island that we used on our first night. It was a reasonable meal for two, consisting of a starter, a pizza to share and a bottle of wine, but if you’re at the island for a week you might run out of eating options.
We chose to cook for ourselves on the second night using the communal kitchens located next to the pool, and cooked up some local barramundi which was a treat. The shop located on the island certainly isn’t cheap, but between the two of us for a meal of fish and veg it still worked out cheaper than a meal at the restaurant.
We still took advantage of the daily Happy Hour by the pool though, and I can heartily recommend the cocktails. A tequila sunrise has never tasted so good!
Another advantage of the island resort is that everything you purchase is added to your room tab which is settled on departure. That includes everything from your orders at the bars and restaurant, the stinger suit hire and whatever you pick up from the mini mart. It’s all picked up at the end so there’s no need to worry about travelling around the island with cash/cards on you.
If you find yourself in Queensland and looking for an option of places to stay I would definitely recommend Palm Bay resort. It may be on the more basic side, but that doesn’t take away the uniqueness of the experience you have there. There’s nothing nicer than swinging on a hammock, laying back and listening to the wallabies hopping through the bushes nearby…
Thanks for reading x