Did you know you can stay at Orpheus Island with kids? Neither did we until recently. My husband and I have dreamed of staying at this luxe-yet-laid-back Queensland resort for years. We almost made it for our 15th wedding anniversary but getting someone to look after our young son proved to be a challenge. However, thanks to a change of ownership, Orpheus Island Resort is now open to guests of all ages.
Our family of three – two adults and our 12 year old son – set off from Townsville for the 30 minute helicopter transfer to Orpheus Island Resort. While the helicopter transfer does add to the cost of a stay here (there is no cheaper alternative), this has more in common with a scenic flight than mere transportation. It certainly adds a major wow factor and sense of occasion to your arrival. Keep your eyes out for whales, dugong and turtles and your camera handy as the view from the air is superb.
We arrived in time for a welcome glass of champagne (and a mocktail for our son) with time to settle into our room and get our bearings before the evening cocktail hour. Staying at Orpheus Island Resort is designed to be a personalised experience, so take advantage of the chance to customise your stay. The more information you provide when you fill out the questionnaire prior to arrival, the easier it is for the staff to tailor your stay. For example, along with listing everyone’s food preferences in the space provided, we asked if it would be possible to have a family dinner on the first night and a romantic dinner for two on the second night with room service for our son. ‘Of course!’ was the response, despite the fact there is no official room service menu at the resort.
In the end it didn’t matter about the lack of menu as the head chef and our son met up and designed a bespoke ‘ultimate dream room service meal’: a vanilla milkshake plus freshly caught fish (a tip from the chef) and thick cut chips, chocolate cake and ice cream. I know this sounds completely over the top, but Orpheus is that kind of place. Families are accommodated in modern two bedroom villas with a kitchenette, coffee machine and complimentary mini-bar. Couples stay on the other side of the main lodge, which is more secluded. All food and beverages plus a daily Orpheus activity or day trip are included in the tariff, so you can do as much or as little as you wish. There are also things to do if the weather doesn’t play along, like playing billiards or challenging someone to a game of Monopoly or chess in the guest lounge.
Each day the complimentary Orpheus Activity is listed on the blackboard near the bar. This could be a nature walk around the island, or a snorkelling or fishing trip. There are also tinnies which you can take out at no additional charge. These have a ladder at the back so you can go snorkelling or you can simply take them for a spin around the island or to a secluded beach, with a luxe picnic hamper packed with delicious goodies and wine (provided at no additional charge).
All snorkelling gear is provided – and taken care of when you get back from your adventure. There is no need to clean out or even return your gear to the dive shop. A staff member walks down to the beach or jetty to meet each tinny, welcomes you back and takes any masks, snorkels or wet towels. Your snorkelling gear ‘magically’ reappears when you are ready to hit the water again. Your stay can be as social, private or family-focussed as you wish.
On some evenings, chairs are set up on the beach in front of a bonfire so guests can socialize, however there is no pressure to participate. We enjoyed chatting with other travellers, and met some lovely people from around the world. If you stayed here for more than a few days, you would likely form some wonderful friendships. And, with the resort being all inclusive, there is no need to worry about whose turn it is to shout the next round of drinks.
One of the things we loved most about our stay at Orpheus Island Resort was having time to enjoy the island’s activities as a family. As our son has got older, we have discovered that the secret to a successful family holiday for us is having things to do. These shared experiences create wonderful (and sometimes unintentionally hilarious) adventures that we talk about and relive together long after we return home. On Orpheus Island, we hiked through the bush to a picturesque lookout, explored the island in a tinny captained by our son (with a guiding hand from Dad), snorkelled over clams that were bigger than all of us and went swimming at a secluded beach that felt like it was ours alone.
While children of all ages are welcome at Orpheus Island, our family agreed this holiday experience is probably best suited to kids aged seven and over. The gorgeous pool could be a concern for parents with toddlers as it is unfenced. Adventurous activities like snorkel trips also aren’t ideal for littlies. When our son was little, my husband and I sometimes took turns doing non-child-friendly activities like snorkelling tours, but it is much more fun to share these with your partner (and your kids, if they’re old enough). If you are thinking of coming here with littlies, it could be worth delaying your trip for a few years so you can get maximum value – and enjoyment – out of your stay.
We loved the all-inclusive nature of the resort and not having to tally up the cost of food, drinks and activities while we were there. Breakfast and lunch is enjoyed in a casual outdoor area with wooden tables. Dinner is more formal and served in an adjoining dining area with linen-napped tables and romantic candles. Orpheus has its own market garden and contented chickens who provide eggs for the restaurant. Breakfast starts at 8am and includes a selection of fruit, yoghurt and pastries (which change daily) plus espresso coffee and juice, delivered to your table. An a la carte hot menu is also available, featuring choices such as a smashed avocado on sourdough (pictured) or an Orpheus omelette with minced chicken, Asian salad and peanut sauce.
Lunch is served tapas-style with a different theme each day. Our first lunch was a sophisticated take on Chinese which we loved; the second had an Australian theme and featured dishes such as fish and chips and chicken parmigiana.
Dinner is a multi-course degustation served at linen-napped tables in a more formal dining area, from 7pm onwards. If you think the dish below is a bit too fancy for your kids, the kitchen can prepare something simpler for them. We were impressed with how different dietary requirements, such as gluten free, were catered for on adjoining tables with spectacular alternative meals delivered with zero fuss. If you or your children have special dietary requirements, you will have an especially fabulous stay here.
Orpheus Island Resort is a dream destination for luxury-loving adventure seekers. If you are looking for somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, either with family or as a couple, it would be hard to think of a better spot. Or, you could skip the special occasion, and simply come here for a holiday. Either way, you’ll be looking for somewhere to hide when you hear the chopper approaching to take you home.
Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Orpheus Island. Her husband and son paid for their helicopter transfers and loved arriving at the resort like rock stars. In their words, ‘Expensive but totally worth it!’
Not staying at Orpheus Island with kids or want more information about the resort? Check out our Top 5 Tips for Orpheus Island.