I guess I missed out on the whole spiel about Lizard Island—one of the most remote spots in the Great Barrier Reef—and its origins (that or I was too ADD to pay attention), because I was hurrying to breakfast our first morning on the isle and JUMPED OUT OF MY SKIN when this slithered across my path (lizards, they slither, right?):
And by “jumped out of my skin,” I screamed a blood-curdling howl that could have easily been heard from the mainland (in general, I’m not so good with things that creep and crawl). My surprise startled the poor German couple walking just ahead of me, who hurried back to see what was wrong. When they spotted my friend, the man tried to console me: “Oh, do not worry. He will not hurt you. He is harmless.” Now, yes, I know this, and no, I’m not the slightest bit afraid of lizards and geckos (hey, they eat my foe, the ants, after all), but anyone’s going to be a bit unnerved when she’s minding her own business, shuffling along looking at her own two feet because she’s known for her klutzy ways, not glancing ahead of her at any point, and a four-foot long reptile blocks the path, am I right?
On second thought, I’d more say he waddled. (Apologies for the camera fog (and dorky commentary); 100 degrees + intense humidity + air conditioning does not a happy lens make). Once I had my initial encounter, I began embarking upon Steve Irwin-like safaris just to find these eponymous lizards. They’re kind of cute, in a slimy way, right? The only thing keeping me from them, though, was the dreaded CICADAS. Now, normally, I’m not one to be afraid of such benign critters (um, ants and cockroaches aside)(though I don’t appreciate them flying AT MY HEAD in the dark night hours), but these aren’t your normal, friendly neighborhood variety. No no, these critters, they PEE on your head. Affable Lizard employee Fiona gave me the 411 as she led me down the path to my room the first day, and I totally thought she was yanking my chain, until just ahead of us in a heavily-foliaged area, I saw a stream of golden liquid rain down from the trees—then FELT it atop my head. The overwhelming sounds of the cicada chirping (more like a scream; you can hear them loud and clear in the video above) and fact that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky led me to believe that maybe she wasn’t so far off base. From then on out, anytime I needed to leave my room for the main lodge, I’d do so donning a hat, in a full-out, flip-flop-clad sprint (keeping my eyes peeled for lizard roadblocks, of course).
In general, Lizard Island was stunning, and I’m glad I got the chance to go there while on assignment, as it’s not really somewhere I could afford to go otherwise on my paltry journalist salary. Getting there alone is on the pricey end—you must take a chartered flight on a tiny 10-seater plane that might be flown by an 18 year old, as was our experience, from Cairns, then shuttled to the resort from the barren airstrip. If you were one of the five people who saw the box office blunder, Fool’s Gold, last year, now you know where it was filmed. In fact, Kate Hudson recently said in an interview that Lizard is “the most beautiful place on Earth;” and thus, the PR people for the island have found their marketing campaign and slogan for the coming decade.
Lizard is all protected national park, meaning there’s essentially nothing on the island but wildlife and greenery. There’s only one resort, an all-inclusive, but not in the sense all those tacky Caribbean resorts are organized. Rather, every one of your meals is artfully arranged and could easily have come from a fancy restaurant in San Francisco or New York, and all wine, beer, liquor—we’re talking the fancy stuff—is included, as well.
The rooms, which are massive and bungalow-style, are $1400AUS ($1000 US) a night for double occupancy, but considering you could easily eat (and drink) $500 worth a day, that’s not really so bad. And the views? Didn’t suck. What am I saying? Leave it for a special occasion (honeymoon, anniversary, the like), or secure yourself a willing benefactor before you go.
Stay tuned for my diving and snorkeling adventures from this little slice of heaven! And don’t forget, only 29 days left to apply for The Best Job in the World!