Whitsundays: Daydream island
It's hard to go wrong when palm trees line the waters' edge, small reefs offer quality snorkelling in crystal blue water, kangaroos come out to play at dusk, and there's plenty of room to move.
Add that to 20 free activities across Daydream Island, and there's a resort which aims to keep its guests busy.
The resort develops different personalities, depending on the time of year. During school holidays, there are plenty of families.
Other times, couples emerge as the most dominant demographic on the island. When quiet, there's serenity about Lovers Cove, known to be the best snorkelling spot on the island.
A large resort pool has a swim-up bar, and at the other end of the island there's another pool in front of a large dive-in movie screen. Paddle board, sail, kayak, walk, or just laze about. Take your pick.
Rooms are built with the tropics in mind - tile floors, wicker furniture and large sliding doors to capture any surrounding breeze.
At Daydream, there are 296 rooms which vary in size, from standard studio arrangements, through to the more expansive Daydreamer Suite which has a large bed, open glass-covered bathroom with spa bath looking out to the tropical surrounds, dining area, separate lounge and plenty of space to move.
The balcony overlooks island life, and it's nice to take some time to simply laze on a day lounge and watch it all pass by.
The salt air and hot weather can take their toll on city slickers.
Set the scene: You've been swimming and paddle-boarded up a storm. You've popped a bottle of bubbly, thrown back a couple of cocktails and parted with a few tunes in the hotel lobby.
In the morning, the sun shines as it usually does, the skin is turning a pale pink, the bones are creaking, and something suggests you probably should have drunk a little more water the night before. So, jump into holiday mode and dial a masseuse to make a booking.
The spa on the island has picked up more than its fair share of few awards and has 16 rooms and a large variety of treatments. It's a peaceful experience, and the balcony appropriately overlooks the three mermaids which are synonymous with the island - Aphrodite, Serenity and Infinity.
If you've seen the movie Mermaid, you might be tempted to order the lobster and start gnawing away at the shell.
But it's much more sophisticated than that here, unless of course you're a curlew looking for a few scraps. Mermaids restaurant overlooks the main beach and is the most up-market option on the island, serving up cocktails, and for main meal the duck confit is a treat.
Waterfalls is the buffet option and is also the hot spot for breakfast. A quick tip: try to wake up early for breakfast, as the 8.30am timeslot can be in high demand.
On the south end of the island, there's a bakery which makes a nice lunch choice. The pool bar can organise snacks, so there's never a shortage.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
The rooms are nice, but during the day, island living is what it's all about.
A great way to appreciate the Great Barrier Reef and all its wonders is to join a marine expert for the "Stingray Splash". Like cats purring against your leg, stingrays - minus their poisonous barb - eat from your hand and suck on your toes.
Before you start worrying about the welfare of the stingrays, there will be reef shoes on those toes. Play mini golf, tennis, watch a movie on the outdoor screen, go to the beach, snorkel and paddle. In short, step out and soak up the sun.
To daydream is nice, but snap out of it and get active. Or not. Whatever, because nobody really cares how you play it. And therein lies the beauty of island living.
The pace is whatever you want it to be, and the atmosphere is equally laid back. Part of the challenge is to pull the body out of fourth gear. If in doubt, grab a cocktail and gaze at the mermaids for a while.
HOW TO GET THERE
If staying in Airlie Beach, or flying into Proserpine, ferries are timed to connect with most flights and take about 30 minutes to the island from Abel Point Marina. The alternative is to fly into Hamilton Island and take a ferry from there.
Daydream Island Resort and Spa, Daydream Island. Basic room rates start at around $200 a night in low season and rise from there. The Daydreamer suite in high season, for example, goes for around $700. Check deal sites for better rates. Phone 07 3259 2350, see daydreamisland.com
Sydney Morning Herald