Thala Beach Lodge
Private Road, Oak Beach Port Douglas
P: 07 4098 5700
Cost: Thala Beach Lodge is located on an almost 60 hectare private headland where the rainforest meets the reef. The five-star eco resort offers Sandpiper Suites, Coral Sea Bungalows, Eucalypt Bungalows, and Jungle Walk Bungalows. Rates start from $125 per person per night.
The room is like a luxurious beach shack.
It combines natural timber floors and wicker furniture with modern conveniences such as air-conditioning, a television, and alarm clock although it is unclear why anyone would need the last two items.
Guests can just pull back the window treatments and allow the rising sun to do the trick. Why watch television when you can sit on the balcony, survey the view, and listen to the sounds of the forest.
With a view of the rainforest and ocean unimpeded by panes of glass, Ospreys is the restaurant at Thala Beach Lodge. Local, seasonal produce features on the modern menu which also prominently showcases coconuts grown on site.
To start, there’s the toasted ciabatta with pressed coconut oil and hazelnut dukkah. To finish, there’s the coconut panna cotta with mango sorbet, lychees and banana sand.
In between, try the slow cooked duck with ricotta gnocchi, field mushrooms, pinenuts, baby spinach, sage and thyme butter. Between the food and the view, it’s easy to become too distracted to maintain dinner table conversation.
It’s a short drive into the seaside hamlet of Port Douglas with its shops, restaurants, and bars. But once you reach the top of the private road at Thala, it is difficult to find a decent reason to leave.
For free, guests can take guided nature and bird walks, join the coconut odyssey tour to drink and eat the local specialty while learning more coconuts, or go star gazing.
For a fee, there is turtle watching from sea kayaks, yoga classes, spa treatments, and picnic baskets for those looking for a more intimate dining experience. There are two swimming pools drawing design inspiration from billabongs.
When you walk into the reception area and are greeted with a mango concoction in a glass decorated with a pineapple wedge, it is clear that Thala Beach Lodge is a special place.
It has an interesting back story. Rob and Oonagh Prettejohn bought almost 60 hectare cane farm in the early 1970s and had planning approval to build a 700-bedroom hotel. Instead, the couple chose to rehabilitate the site, planting indigenous trees and building a small number of bungalows set into the landscape.
Today, it is difficult to imagine the sites past life as a farm particularly when drinking a sundowner at Herbie’s Beach Shack.
- Danielle Cronin was a guest of Thala Beach Lodge
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