Lizard Island – Queensland, Australia

An Embarrassment of Beaches

Of the dozen or so island resorts amid the emerald and turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef, this one, located farthest north, is the most beach-endowed. With just forty homestead-style bungalows, a justly famous Blue Lagoon, and twenty-four secluded white-sand, palm-fringed coves, there’s a good chance you’ll have a beach to yourself – and reason to stay for a few weeks to check them all out individually.

Uninhabited save for resort staff and guests, Lizard Island is a 2,500-acre national park, and the descendants of the 3-foot-long monitor lizards – after which Captain James Cook named the island in 1770 – can be found sunbathing on the palm-studded green lawn in front of your bungalow. Being so far offshore and nearer the outer reef, Lizard has some of the clearest and bluest waters and some of the best diving of the islands.

Cod Hole, a hot spot just 12 miles away, has long been a must-do diving site; dozens of giant potato codfish expect to be stroked and fed by hand – which may explain why they grow to 6 feet in length and weigh more than 400 pounds.

Things really jump on this otherwise relaxed and informal island when the black marlin are running, and 1,200-pound catches are not rare. Fishermen from all over the world descend on the island from August to November, and at the annual Black Marlin Classic in October, they reminisce about the seven world and two Australian records (as of this writing) that have been set here.

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