Bedarra Island, Australia

Bedarra Island is one hundred hectares of pristine tropical rainforest and powder white beaches. It teams with wildlife but you’ll be hard-pressed to find another human being during your stay. Bedarra Island is one of the few places left on Earth where you can feel like you have the whole island to yourself. It’s a place you can slip away to and never be found, a place to restore your inner peace and rekindle the romance that day-to-day living can often put on hold. There are a handful of private luxury villas in which you can stay. My personal favorite is East Bedarra Island Retreat, a sustainable villa that straddles the rocks right on the water.

View from Bedarra Island at sunset. Photo: Romantic Villas


Bedarra Island lies at the heart of the Family Group of islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Paradise, in other words. You’ll find it half way between Cairns and Townsville seven kilometres off the pretty coastal town of Mission Beach. It’s well off the beaten track so getting here is part of the adventure.

Artists Hideaway

For decades Bedarra Island has attracted artists, poets, conservationists and hopeless romantics. In the 1930s, artist Noel Wood set out on an aimless adventure in his brand new Ford, sold it to buy a sailing boat, ended up on Bedarra Island, and sold the boat to purchase land here in 1936. Here he remained for 60 years, painting the landscape and romancing female guests. Not a bad lifestyle. His studio makes up part of the Bedarra Beach Villa accommodations and includes the gin and cognac bottle wall, the stone fireplace, bamboo paneling and unique furniture that Wood built himself.

His works also decorate 360 Degrees, a stunning hilltop vacation rental on Bedarra Island.

Artist and conservationist John Busst (the man responsible for having the Great Barrier Reef listed as a World Heritage Park) settled here from 1941 to 1957.

Poet Helen Wiltshire became a resident in 1986. Famous nature photographer Peter Lik once created a home here. His unique hilltop masterpiece, Bedarra Hideaway, is now a luxury vacation rental.

“Earth offers us her beauty,
Bright blue the sky and sea.
We pause in silent wonder,
At one with all we see.”
Helen Wiltshire, Bedarra Island poet.

Noel Woods’ artist studio showing the gin and cognac wall.

A Diversity of Wildlife that would Impress Sir David Attenborough

Thanks to conservation efforts throughout its history of ownership, the natural beauty of Bedarra Island remains intact and unspoiled. Trails meander through virgin rainforest emerging to spectacular views across island-dotted sea vistas, and kayaks are available to go beach hopping. Whether you take to the rainforest or the sea, you’ll encounter the charismatic wildlife that calls Bedarra Island home.

Tumbling through forest sunbeams you’ll see the electric blue Ulysses butterfly and the emerald glimmer of the Giant Birdwing. You’ll see rainforest skinks, tree monitors and forest dragons sunning themselves, bats taking to the twilight sky, and geckos catching insects at night. The Wompoo Fruit-Doves flap through the treetops, and Scrub Fowl scratch the forest litter for food. Sunbirds flit from flower to flower, tree frogs sit camouflaged  amongst greenery, melomys scamper through the undergrowth, and if you’re lucky you’ll see an echidna ambling about his business.

Don a mask and fins, dive into the warm clear waters (you’ll never see water this clear!) and say hello to the marine life. Bedarra Island is on the Great Barrier Reef so you’ll see tropical fish, sea turtles, starfish, clams, and occasionally a dugong. If you’re here in late June, you might even observe the Humpback Whale on its annual migration north.

On our first morning we had fresh fish for breakfast that we had just caught…” Glenda E, Tripadvisor review of East Bedarra Island Retreat.

Photo: Romantic Villas


To this day, Bedarra Island’s unique beauty is cherished and protected by its owners. The small number of buildings on Bedarra Island are all solar-powered. Fresh spring water and rain water is used. Recyclables are separated and all rubbish is removed from the island by boat in sealed containers. No day-trippers or campers are allowed on the island, and the number of guests admitted at any one time is strictly limited.

All buildings are powered by solar. East Bedarra Island Retreat.

The Seclusion of a Castaway (without the hardship)

At Bedarra Island you will feel a million miles away as you unwind from the hectic pace of daily life and relax to the natural rhythms of island time. Rarely will you see another person. You’ll have palm-fringed beaches with warm clear waters all to yourself day after day, and personal viewpoints from which to enjoy a sunset cocktail. It’s this rare seclusion and stunning natural beauty that makes Bedarra Island the perfect anniversary and honeymoon destination.

“We hardly saw another soul during the week and even when kayaking around the island, there was virtually nobody else to be seen.” Dennis J, Tripadvisor review of East Bedarra Island Retreat.

Dorilla Beach, Bedarra Island.

Bedarra Island Accommodation: Barefoot Luxury

Bedarra Island has seven holiday villas and a resort with a further eight villas to choose from. The standard is distinctly high-end and each villa offers exquisite views of the surrounding islands and sea. Whether you want to be right on the beach where you can doze off to the gentle lap of the ocean, or perched on a hilltop with 360 degree views, Bedarra Island has something for everyone.

“There is nowhere else where you can stand on the deck of a luxury beach house suspended over the Great Barrier Reef and wave to your lover swimming against the backdrop of a pearl-like string of tropical islands.” Beautiful Accommodation review of East Bedarra Island Retreat.

The deck at dusk. East Bedarra Island Retreat.

Balmy Weather Year ‘Round

From a mild 23 degrees Celsius in the winter months of June and July, to a pleasantly warm 30 degrees Celsius in the height of summer (Dec and Jan) Bedarra Island can be enjoyed throughout the year. Tropical downpours followed by sunbursts and rainbows are common from December to March. Some people find this time of year exciting while others want nothing but blue skies, so plan your trip accordingly.

Bedarra Island. Photo: Romantic Villas

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