Discovering a tropical backyard at Hamilton Island
Our guest liasion officer welcomed us to our luxury Hamilton Island apartment, throwing open the French doors onto a green oasis overlooking an endless stretch of white sandy beach, complete with hammocks swinging beneath shady palms fringing a sparkling blue ocean. We let out the obligatory ‘aahh’ but then something else caught our eye. Could this be real? A female wallaby, with joey in pouch, munching on the grass, literally centimetres from our bedroom. Was this some sort of Hollywood Universal studios backlot prank? No, apparently not, as we discovered on the ensuing days, as the said mother and her joey made their regular appearance – nonchalantly partaking of the verdant feast on our doorstep. Such is the delightful reality of life on Hamilton Island. Wallabies, turtles, whales, dolphins, butterflies, goannas, and an abundance of birdlife (just make sure you close your doors while out, otherwise they can make themselves very much at home in your bedding!) – are in constant supply. A virtual cacophony of Aussie wildlife!
The last time I had visited Hamilton Island I was a 17 year-old on a school trip, ‘roughing’ it in tented accommodation and marvelling at the impossibly blue, pristine Whitsunday waters while exploring the underworld of multi-coloured fish and coral. I can’t believe it took me almost 40 years to venture back…and not surprisingly, I was blown away!
Hamilton Island is so incredibly gorgeous…and such an accessible way to experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef. If you haven’t ventured there, then you really need to add it to the bucket list.
Easy to access
With direct flights from Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne, it is super easy to get to Hamilton Island. There are also ferries from Shute Harbour and Airlie Beach, so if you are driving or flying via the Whitsundays Airport, then it is still easy to access the island. Once you arrive, you are escorted to your accommodation by shuttle bus and then the fun begins! There are no cars on the island, so make sure you try out the golf buggies on offer – they are easy to use and such a sustainable way to get around. Walking is also an option, so don’t be afraid to stretch your legs and explore what’s on offer. Some accommodation also provides shuttle services around the island.
Large range of accommodation
In terms of accommodation, there is something for everyone – from the reasonably priced, family accommodation at the Reef View Hotel, to the adults-only Beach Club, Yacht Club villas, private beach houses and the ultra-luxe Qualia.
We stayed at the Beach Club and I can highly recommend it. We had a ground floor apartment which meant that we could literally open the doors and walk onto the private, adults-only beach in a matter of seconds. You can order drinks and food from the restaurant/bar and laze away many languorous hours on your lounger or hammock. Tempted? You should be.
Breakfast in the beachfront restaurant is included and I also recommend dining there in the evenings around the horizon-edge pool. For something super romantic, you can request a candle-lit, table for two on the beach – it’s a no brainer if you are celebrating a special occasion or maybe even popping the question!
An abundance of things to do
I highly recommend downloading the Hamilton Island app before you go and planning at least some of your activities. These range from sunset cruises, helicopter trips to the famous Whitehaven Beach (with the whitest sand you will ever see!), snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, playing a round of golf at arguably one of the most picturesque courses in the world on Dent Island, kayaking, nature walks, art classes, yoga, jet skiing, turtle discovery and much, much more.
Also make sure to book a few restaurants and schedule in some sunset drinks at One Tree Hill – the most spectacular spot for experiencing that famous Whitsunday sundowner.
Celebrating a special occasion
Hamilton Island just oozes romance, so if you are planning an engagement then a helicopter trip over Heart Reef, landing on the pristine Whitehaven Beach for a private, champagne proposal will definitely elicit a ‘yes’. If you are looking for that fabulous destination wedding location, then Hamilton Island can deliver the goods, complete with stunning chapel overlooking the azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef, followed by the party to end all parties, on your own private jetty, or in a beachside, fairy light-festooned marquee.