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Paradise found: Australia’s best beach hotels

Words by Georgie Young

06 March 2024

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Beachy boltholes, remote island resorts and, surfer-style hangouts selected by Quintessentially Travel.

Your dream beach holiday inevitably involves dazzling white sands, swaying palm trees, and aquamarine waters stretching as far as the eye can see. And you'll find all three – and more – in Australia. Its 34,000km of coastline has all beachy bases covered, whether that’s curvaceous coves, sandy shores that squeak underfoot, world-beating surf, or desert islands (complete with Champagne-stocked fridges and yacht service, of course).

Our insider's guide to its best beach hotels – chosen by Quintessentially Travel's Head of Travel for Australia and APAC, Dave Thompson – is similarly diverse, including sand-swept beach houses, resorts marooned on tropical islands, and design-savvy boltholes. Paradise, found.

Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, SA

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Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, SA

You’ve probably heard Kangaroo Island for one of two reasons: its high density of wildlife or the tragic bushfires that swept it in 2019. During the latter, Southern Ocean Lodge was burnt to the ground, but it reopened in 2023 as a near-replica of the original – limestone walls, Tasmanian timber, and all. It’s suites only, and only 25 of them at that, and there’s an excellent spa offering facials, massages, and full-body scrubs using the island’s supply of eucalyptus, lavender, and Ligurian honey.

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Dave’s tip:

Known as Australia’s Galapagos, Kangaroo Island is home to a diverse selection of wildlife. Book a barbecue lunch at a private bush camp to encounter koalas, kangaroos, and sea lions en route.

Lizard Island Resort, QLD

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Lizard Island Resort, QLD

Dyiigurra – or Lizard Island – is Australia's northernmost island, marooned approximately 240km north of Cairns and swathed in the Great Barrier Reef's outer rings. Its newest accommodation, The House at Lizard, is a three-bedroom, secluded escape clinging to a private peninsula. Thoughtfully designed by leading Australian architects, the timber-and-glass property promises ultimate privacy; restaurants are swapped for private chefs, personal sommeliers replace bars, and a Riviera yacht is ready to tour you around the nearby reef.

Dave’s tip:

If you want a view to remember, hike in the footsteps of Captain Cook to the island's highest point and ponder your route through the maze of coral reefs.

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Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, NSW

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Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach, NSW

This soulful bungalow started life as a somewhat seedy motel but has been regenerated into a boutique bolthole by interior designer Anna Spiro. The blue and white bedrooms are exuberantly decorated (check out the geometric sofas and florid wallpapers), and mismatched artworks and hand-collected antiques add an eccentric feel. Fancy swapping sleepy Cabarita Beach for lively Byron Bay? Borrow one of the hotel's Audis and zoom 20 minutes up the coast.

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Dave’s tip:

Stop for a G&T at the Halycon House bar: there are over 120 varieties of Australian-made gins, making it the most extensive selection in the country.

Cable Beach Club & Resort, Broome, WA

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Cable Beach Club & Resort, Broome, WA

Despite being The Outback's beach town, Broome Central is 5km inland. That means that the closest you'll get to the orange-and-aqua coastline is at this resort, designed and funded by British art mogul Lord Alistair McAlpine. Inside, colonial-style buildings are filled with artworks and sculptures from McAlpine's world travels, and bedrooms are all dark woods and shuttered doors – the best suites have berry-red terraces. Wallabies hopping across the lawn is a daily occurrence, and nearby camel tours mean it's not unusual to see them swaggering past the windows, either.

Dave's tip:

Between March and October, look across the exposed flats of nearby Roebuck Bay. On a full moon, a natural phenomenon called Staircase to the Moon lights up the sea.

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qualia, Hamilton Island, QLD

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qualia, Hamilton Island, QLD

This island resort is the poster child of luxury beach holidays. Secluded on the unspoilt tip of Hamilton Island, every aspect has been designed to blend with nature, whether that’s the sea breeze harnessed in the place of air conditioning or foldaway walls to bring the scenery closer. An elegant resort-wear dress code adds to a sense of elevated escapism, as do luxurious spa treatments and two excellent restaurants. Choose a Windward Suite for expansive views of the neighbouring Whitsunday Islands, best soaked in from your private plunge pool.

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Dave’s tip: 

Make the most of the resort's proximity to world-famous Whitehaven Beach by requesting a gourmet picnic on the sands.

28 Degrees, Byron Bay, NSW

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28 Degrees, Byron Bay, NSW

28 Degrees is as Byron Bay as it gets: white wood walls, all-organic products and produce, and strings of shells in place of do not disturb signs. It's small and intimate, with just four rooms that feature framed beach photographs and private plunge pools, and TVs have been swapped for a curated book selection to help guests switch off – although Byron Bay's buzzing, boho centre is just a few minutes away.

Dave’s tip:

We love the Lighthouse Room; it has an antique, claw-footed bath, and you can glimpse the emblematic Byron Bay lighthouse from the circular window.

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QT Bondi, Sydney, NSW

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QT Bondi, Sydney, NSW

Australia's most famous beach is reason enough to head to Bondi; however, this lovely hotel adds further allure. It looks and feels very much like a slick city property, yet the salt-tinged breeze wafting from your in-room balcony hints otherwise. Style-wise, it fits in with Bondi's fashionista crowd; splashes of colour are omnipresent – including a collage-style photo wall in the lobby – and minibars are filled with flip-flops and packs of cards alongside regular refreshments.

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Dave's tip:

Whilst you’re in Bondi, take a trip to the iconic Icebergs swimming pool – surely one of the world’s most stunning outdoor pools.

Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Our global network of dedicated travel specialists plans one-of-a-kind, tailor-made travel experiences to make every trip your best yet. Find out more about Quintessentially Travel here.

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Georgie Young

As our Digital Editor, Georgie writes about all types of luxury – whether that’s deep dives into London restaurant trends, interviews with famous faces, or travelogues from all over the world.

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