I have been awoken by the stirring of the day. Seabirds call out in the lightening darkness. The morning breeze rustles my luxe-tent guest room, one of six on this natural, coral-cay Eden. Small waves roll up onto the beach a few feet from my pillow. I rise and walk along the shore to the nature-carved Flintstone Chairs, the best spot to see the sun rise over the 1,200-mile-long Great Barrier Reef.
I hover, snorkeling over one of the most pristine reefs I’ve ever seen, punctuated by purple, yellow and red corals. The reef ripples with the movements of legions of iridescent fish, shy crabs and wildly colored sea slugs, and then I get lucky – a manta ray passes, looking like an animated flying carpet. Its grace reveals my own awkwardness in the water. But I don’t care. I’m in awe, and the water feels like cool silk caressing my body.
I wander to the beach where all 12 of Wilson Island’s guests have gathered to watch the sunset. I sip Tanqueray and tonic, nibbling on canapés as the sun tumbles over the edge of the earth, accompanied by the cries of hundreds of wedge-tailed shearwaters. It’s equal parts clamor and serenity, and – despite the thread count of my sheets, the hot showers and the king-size bed – even a bit island-primal. Our group makes its way to The Longhouse for a candlelit, three-course meal paired with several bottles of shiraz, all in the embrace of this natural world.
I have just watched a 400-pound green sea turtle heave herself up the beach. Getting up the beach past the high-water mark takes considerable effort. Sand flies as she digs a hole to lay her eggs and then covers them nimbly. I wish I could return in April to see the hundreds of hatchlings sprinting to the sea to start their lives of mystery. I walk back to my tented lodgings, let the million sounds of nature wrap around me like a sheet and race off to sleep in anticipation of another day on this, the loveliest island campground on the globe.
Fly to Gladstone, Australia, via Brisbane on Qantas. From the Gladstone Marina, transfer by boat (Heron Spirit Launch) to Heron Island. From there a resort boat will transfer you 45 minutes to Wilson Island. Package rates from $1,915 per person for five nights (three nights on Wilson Island and two on Heron Island) include meals and beverages. Starting April 1, nightly rates will be available from $495. wilsonisland.com