On a balmy June evening, the sun sinks below the horizon on the silky smooth Indian Ocean and I’ve got an odd sense of déjà vu. I’ve certainly never seen a beach dotted in an ombre of pink pebbles or slept in a glamping tent in the dunes behind the beach before. Those are 100% unique to Sal Salis, luxury glamping on the edge of Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia where I’m spending the night. But as I rack my brain to find out what’s triggering that tickle in the back of my mind, I realise I’ve spent many a sunset on the beach!
Sipping a glass of crisp rosé at a beach club in Nice in the south of France, drinking Pina Coladas at big pink hotels in Waikiki, popping a bottle of bubbles after renewing my vows on an island in Fiji… remember what it was like to travel the world and treat your and your special someone to a romantic sunset on the beach? We may not be able to visit exotic locations overseas, but it turns out we don’t need to. Here are five reasons why Sal Salis puts Australian honeymoons back on the map!
Image via Sal Salis
1. Just you, the sand, and the sea!
Forget jockeying for towel space and a little elbow room on the beach in Noosa – Sal Salis sits on a patch of coastline that’s as close to a private beach as you’ll get in Australia. From Exmouth, it’s an hour’s drive around North West Cape and south into Cape Range National Park to a small beach car park where you’ll swap your car for a golf buggy and soon be driving through the dunes. Just sixteen glamping tents and the main lodge are tucked back from the beach so there’s nothing between you and the sea. With a handful of day beds and lounge chairs dotting the sand, guests have this stretch of sand and sea to themselves. Even better than places like Mexico or Hawaii, where resort beaches run the whole way up the coast, this is remote Western Australia. We go beach walking for an hour and only encounter shells, stingrays and wedgetail eagles circling above.
Images: Lisa Perkovic
2. Day beds and eskies!
Let’s get this straight, this is not Ibiza. You won’t find a DJ or a dance floor anywhere except perhaps the pub in town. But the day beds on the beach are that little taste of European summer so many of us are missing right now. Sal Salis is all about laid-back luxury – there’s an open bar filled with Australian craft beers, small-batch spirits, and award-winning wine – and it’s a help-yourself situation. Ask the staff for a small esky or a canvas ice cooler to take down to the beach, pick your favourite tipple and settle in for an afternoon with a good book and a few drinks.
Images: Lisa Perkovic
3. Under the sea!
As the sun sinks below the sea and the sky ripples into shades of purple, it’s easy to see why this is the spot for one of the exclusive Luxury Lodges of Australia. However, it’s what’s under the sea that sets this spot apart. Sal Salis sits on a small section of Ningaloo Reef, one of the world’s longest fringing reefs. A few quick strokes from shore and I’m already at the reef – a blanket of staghorn, branching, and plate coral dotted with striped surgeonfish, spotted puffer fish and even a rainbow parrotfish passes beneath me as I cruise along in the currents. It’s a beautiful wonder you can see before breakfast, after lunch, anytime you want really, with snorkel gear and wet suits provided for every guest. One afternoon the staff take us out to a popular local snorkel spot just up the road, Oyster Stacks, where bommies are the playgrounds of shy blue spotted rays, hungry Moray eels, and even a majestic lionfish.
Image: Lisa Perkovic
4. Bucket list essentials!
You might think a world-class reef would be drawcard enough, but what truly earns this spot bucket list status is the whale shark. The UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the best places in the world to see these gentle giants of the ocean. Sal Salis guests are whisked away for a day-long expedition out beyond the reef and come back each night with wet hair and wild grins. Aboard Live Ningaloo there’s just ten guests in total and two guides in the water. With the help of a spotter plane, the skipper navigates us into the right spot, we jump in and there they are, right beneath your flippers, cruising through the ocean. We’re careful observers, staying well clear of the creatures that can reach 8-10 metres long. We watch them emerge towards the surface, their white spots bright in the sunshine, and swim alongside them until they dive back down to the deep. Into the water about six times over a few hours, we certainly get our fill and spend the afternoon cruising joyfully back to shore with a glass of celebratory bubbles and bonus humpback whale sightings. Whale shark swims occur between April and early July, but if you’re staying later in the year, you might get lucky enough to hop on a humpback whale swim.
Header Image: Sal Salis
5. Bliss out…
Luxury comes in all shapes and forms. There’s no shortage of butlers and infinity pools in the world, but what you’ll find here is even more alluring. Lull into an afternoon nap in a hammock swaying in the sea breeze, toast the final dip of the sun with a Margaret River sparkling wine. Keep the tent flaps open and watch the stars bright in the sky, wake to the sound of waves crashing on the reef. Race the light on a sunrise hike through Mandu Mandu Gorge, sit down to a three-course meal in an open-air lodge, grab a torch and watch crabs scatter along the sand after dark. Though your bedsheet thread count is still high and your barramundi is cooked to perfection, Sal Salis isn’t about fuss and flair, it’s about giving you a chance to soak up this part of the world without a care in the world. Leave your worries, wifi, and phone reception at the airport and get ready to bliss out.
Honeymoon your heart out at a place like no other that’s in our own backyard…
Image: Lisa Perkovic
About Lisa Perkovic: Lisa has spent the past decade travelling the world writing for Australia’s leading newspapers, magazines and blogs about all things travel. Her own honeymoon was her pièce de résistance – an epic journey to the Maldives and South Africa. Now she loves nothing more than sharing destinations and tips to help other newlyweds work out how to have the honeymoon of their dreams.