SULTRY night air tempered by salty sea breezes. Palm trees quietly waving against a moonlit sky. Add a sassy cocktail to this tranquil beachside setting (a lychee martini in this case) and send out some subtly prepared seafood, maybe blue swimmer crab, and the mood elevates from captivating to romantic.
It’s Palm Cove in tropical North Queensland.
An easy 20-minute drive from Cairns, this sexy strip of palm-lined beach, with its five-star boutique hotels, glamorous shops and open-air restaurants lining a lush esplanade, wraps you in a sophisticated sanctuary where all other life seems of no consequence.
We’re staying at Peppers Beach Club & Spa in the heart of Palm Cove.
The resort wraps around a large blue pool rimmed with a beach of soft sand so white sunglasses are essential.
It’s a starry-eyed setting and it doesn’t hurt that it’s Valentine’s weekend during our visit. We’ve dined on prawns, calamari and blue swimmer crab at Lime & Pepper, the signature restaurant on the beachfront.
As the food and wine weaved its magic, and the wisps of sheer black sails separating Lime & Pepper from Nu Nu restaurant next door billowed softly among the tropical foliage, we had become more than a little dreamy.
It gets even better the next morning.
After an indulgence of fresh mango and a plate of eggs benedict at Lime & Pepper, it’s off to Peppers Sanctum Spa.
The couples’ room, with its twin tables, is ready for us beneath whirring ceiling fans and we allow two therapists to gently massage us both to sleep.
Fortunately, our own soft snoring wakes us in time to turn over for hydrating facials.
Peppers Beach Club & Spa caters for everyone, with a choice of suites, spa rooms, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom penthouses with private roof-top terraces.
We’re in the Serenity Wing, with the rainforest pool a step down off our deck.
We’ve come to Palm Cove purely for the relaxation – the most we’re up for is a little resort-style shopping – but there are activities galore if you really must: reef and Daintree trips can be arranged in a matter of moments, deep-sea fishing, white-water rafting all await and, for types like us, so do sunset dinner cruises. But there’s no cruising for us tonight.
It is dinner on the decks with the 300-year-old melaleuca gums at the Sebel Reef House and, while we mull over the arrival of our quail with blue cheese soufflé, we see Sebel chef Phil Mitchell in the open kitchen.
An ex-Noosa chef of note, Phil has been at the Sebel for 11 years and his award tally has outgrown the Sebel’s walls.
The food, the wine, the hot evening air do their work, and we’re certain those magnificent melaleucas have just grown several more metres.
The writer was a guest of Tourism Queensland and Tourism Palm Cove.