Access & Resources
Doubles cost $61 per night, $390 per week; bring your own food. The Doctor's, a two-bedroom villa 50 yards from Coco Loco, sleeps up to six and costs $103 per night, $645 per week. 011-61-7-40687637 www.cocolocomissionbeach.com
COCO LOCOthe Crazy Coconut? It certainly didn't sound like paradiseit sounded more like an overpriced blender drink at a suburban Mexican theme bar. But after a two-hour, 100-mile drive south from Cairns, I was happy to find that Coco Loco doesn't live up to its name.
In fact, nothing could be saner. Coco Loco is two hilltop bungalows, one that sleeps up to four people, another for cooking in, both with timber roofs and open-air rooms, set into a rainforest with staghorn ferns. If you're looking for spotless luxury or a full-service lodge, you'll be turned off by this Australian jungle hideaway. But if your idea of heaven is a simple adobe-style playhouse, a 180-degree Coral Sea view, and three-foot-long monitor lizards milling about, this is your place.
Coco Loco is located in Mission Beach, a collection of sleepy oceanfront hamlets in far northern Queensland. A small path runs 60 feet from your breakfast table to the palm-fringed beach, where ancient lava flows mix with sand and the fresh flotsam of cuttlefish bones and pods of mangrove seeds. To the east, an hour by catamaran from the Clump Point Jetty or Wongaling Beach lands you and your scuba gear on the Great Barrier Reef. To the west lies the largest block of lowland rainforest south of the Daintree. Here you can fish the Hull River for barramundi and mangrove jack, or hike the Rainforest Walk through Licuala State Forest. An eight-mile round-trip route cuts through a pristine 100-million-year-old greenhouse where cycads and fan palms shelter iridescent blue Ulysses butterflies, green tree frogs, and the endangered southern cassowary.
I came for the jungle, but I stayed for Coco Loco. Sprawled on the sand, homemade margarita in hand, I had to laugh: If this is loco, please feel free to drive me here anytime.