Now I See Why They Call it That

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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?

Lizard Safari from krysleigh on Vimeo.

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!

  • January 24, 2009

    Oh, man. I would sell my first born son to go there…

  • January 24, 2009

    Okay, I wish you could have heard me screaming at my screen while your video played. THOSE NECKS. There’s something really creepy about them.

  • January 24, 2009

    Sounds like fun. (Well, minus the whole lizards peeing on your head part — though that would be okay if it happened to someone else and you could just laugh and laugh without, um, spending the rest of the day smelling of lizard pee 🙂

    Hey, have you been to New Zealand? I am plotting a far away vacation and that’s one of my possibilities (versus going to Peru to trek the Inca Trail, jetting off Thailand or Vietnam, or adventuring in Nicaragua.) (Yes, I know that that is a really wide range of choices, but I swear they all have something in common — the chance for lots of great outdoorsy adventure 🙂

  • January 24, 2009

    I didnt know u were going to australia. this is what happens when I take a haitus from reading blogs. looks beautiful though.

  • January 25, 2009

    I just spent six months in NZ if you want some advice! You can email me at Peru, Thailand, Vietnam and Nicaragua are still on my wish list so I can’t compare, but I’m happy to share what I know.

  • January 25, 2009

    Those pictures are gorgeous and that video of the lizard – creepy! What a beautiful place.

  • January 25, 2009

    What a coincidence! My fiance and I are thinking of going to Lizard Island for our honeymoon. Either that or a combo of Heron and Wilson Islands.

  • January 25, 2009

    Glad you had a fantastic time! I visited Heron Island a few years ago, the same company that owns Lizard Island, and loved it. You are on-point about the food – it is delicious, and the best part is that they pack picnic lunches for you if you can’t make it back to the main lodge for lunch.

    Maybe IF I get a benefactor I’ll visit Lizard Island, but in the meantime I am thinking of saving up for another trip to Heron Island. It has 20 dive sites! Now that I have my PADI certification I am raring to go back and dive every day.

  • January 26, 2009

    Someone how I missed the whole cicadas peeing on your head explanation until after we’d left Lizard. I’m SO glad. Blech!

  • January 26, 2009

    Lurve the dress!

    Things peeing on my head would NOT a good vacation make. Unless I had an umbrella…then. Yeah, I’d put up with mid-air pee for that island.

  • January 26, 2009

    The dress is from Banana Republic, right? I spent many days staring at it loving on their site, knowing full well I didn’t have the body for it. You accessorized it well with the drink.

  • January 26, 2009

    It really is beautiful, and I’m all for gorgeous “free” meals . . . but really, with the bug pee-ing thing?! Cause that might be a deal breaker. Do the pee bugs at least stay in their own side of the island?

  • January 26, 2009

    I wonder if anyone asks for their money back after being attacked by a giant lizard. Or if anyone asks for their money back after NOT being attacked by a giant lizard.

  • January 26, 2009

    I would take the latter. Who wants an island covered in TAME lizards?

  • January 27, 2009

    That is not a lizard. Lizards are small. That is some sort of dinosaur.

    HATE cicadas. We get them here really bad like every 17 years or something. They were here last year. Thankfully my neighborhood didn’t have any trees were that old. And they are LOUD.

    It looks like such a beautiful place! Glad we get to live vicariously through you!

  • January 27, 2009

    Dude. Just….dude.

    That looks like it was amazing, lizards and buzzing cicadas notwithstanding. Wow.

  • January 28, 2009

    does it have any positive affect on one’s hair?

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