And we’re off! The plane has finally left the tarmac and the kids have settled into an hours flight on their Ipads, while I wait for my first drink of the holiday. Our long awaited destination is Hamilton Island, in the pristine Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland. This will be our family’s 2nd visit to the Island, but definitely not our last. I am longing for the sparkling blue waters and the beautiful sandy beaches, gazing up at the palm trees with not a care in the world. Days spent lazing by the pool, cocktail in hand, as the kids play in the pool and practice their snorkeling skills. Island time slows right down and you feel like all your cares have been left back on the mainland.
I will highlight the best attractions on the Island and the “must do’s”, as well as help you navigate through your next family holiday itinerary, so you don’t miss a thing.
If you are looking for a romantic holiday destination with the children, Hamilton Island is the ideal tropical island getaway for the whole family. With an endless array of activities, wildlife and pristine beaches, you will never have a moment that does not consist of pure gratitude.
You can fly directly to Hamilton Island airport or to Proserpine airport and ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island. Both QANTAS or Virgin airlines fly daily, but check with you with airline or your travel agent to see what flights suit you best. If possible I would recommend flying directly to Hamilton Island airport, as it cuts down your travel time and if you have booked a holiday home you can check in to your accommodation at the airport and pick up your golf cart. You can then head straight to the poolside and grab yourself a cocktail.
There is an abundant choice of accommodation on the island, from the exclusive kid free Qualia resort, to the Reef view hotel, you will not be disappointed with any style of accommodation you choose. Personally I prefer the Hamilton Island holiday homes, as you have your own home away from home with the addition of a golf cart to transport yourself and the family around the Island.
This time we chose the “Hidden Cove 11” or Mira Mar as it has been named, which is situated just a short buggy ride from the Marina. The uninterrupted views of Plum Pudding and Henning Island are absolutely breathtaking and you will receive daily visits from the local Cockatoos. You can spend your mornings on the balcony watching the boats gliding away from the island for the day and wait for their return in the evening. You have you own “Hidden Cove” beach exclusive to use of the complex guests and the infinity pool is the perfect place to soak up the sun, while taking in the views. You can book all you Island accommodation at www.hamiltonisland.com.au
Once you have arrived and settled yourself into the island life, download the Hamilton Island app, as this will provide you information on everything that is happening on Island, including restaurant bookings, activities and bus timetable.
The Island’s SPA WUMURDAYLIN is an absolute must and I recommend booking a treatment for the first or second day you arrive. Book well in advance, preferably when booking your accommodation because this place books up fast. It will definitely set the tone for the rest of your relaxation days on this paradise island. I experienced the rejuvenation package and can say that I was most definitely rejuvenated when I re-emerged. The spa tops my must do list before doing anything else.
The wildlife park it only small, but cares for many Australian Inhabitants and offers coffee with the Koalas and a guided tour of the park with crocodile feeding. It is a great outing with the kids and once you have purchased your entry you can use it for your entire stay, which makes it worth while. On our first time to the island we had breakfast with the Koalas (now coffee with Koalas) and the kids really enjoyed the experience.
We were all able to enjoy the go-carting on the island this time, as children must be 4 years old to ride in the dual cart with an adult. It is a lot of fun and something a little bit different. The quad bike riding is also a great entertainment for the older kids from ages 6 and up. Make sure you pack enclosed shoes for both of these activities.
Fly/cruise to Reefworld
The absolute highlight of our trip was the Hamilton Island air fly/cruise to Reefworld. We departed in the morning and cruised out to Reefworld on the catamaran, spent a few hours at the pontoon, had lunch and boarded the helicopter for our return via air to Hamilton Island. We had just enough time to enjoy the submersible boat tour (we took the first tour) and enjoy the buffet lunch. It was a little rough and windy on this visit, so the kids were not keen on the snorkeling, but we enjoyed fish watching from the viewing window on the pontoon. The half hour helicopter flight was spectacular and although I am not a big fan of flying, this I can say was the best experience of my life. We enjoyed the view of heart reef from above, flew over Whitehaven beach, past Hill Inlet and back to Hamilton Island airport. Just a little advise when cruising out to the reef, it is open water and does get a little rough. If you even think you or your family might get seasick, definitely take some travel sickness tablets before going.
There are plenty of pools located around the Island, that you are welcomed to use. Our hangout pool was mostly the Island bar which is located in front of the beach club at Catseye beach. The swim up pool bar is open from 11am to 4pm and they have live music from 12.30pm-3.30pm most days. It is a great atmosphere and a perfect spot to relax for the day with a few cocktails, while people watching. Sails Bar have a takeaway menu if you would like to have lunch poolside as well. We purchased some pool noodles for the kids at the IGA for all the pool fun and I suggest packing some goggles and even snorkels if your kids are anything like mine.
We usually found a sun lounge at anytime we arrived, but if you don’t want to miss out on a prime position, head to the pool before the bar opens or later in the afternoon. It is also situated right in front of Catseye beach, so if you want to do a bit of snorkeling or kayaking it is only a short stroll from the pool.
There are plenty of dining options to chose from, or if you are staying in a holiday home you may want to dine in and cook your own cuisine. Kids eat free (up to 12 years) at most places and is an inclusion with most accommodation options.
Our favourite family dining spot was Manta Rays restaurant at the Marina. It is casual and cruisy for the kids with a menu to suit, as well as providing delicious food and drinks for the adults. We also tried TAKO, which serves delicious tapas style Mexican with awesome views of the Marina.
For breakfast options there is Marina Cafe overlooking the Marina, they are open from 7am and serve an array of breakfast options and coffee. It is always very busy, so if you and the family get hangry, get in early. On our previous trip we had the option of buffet breakfast at Sails, but this wasn’t available to us this trip, so we mostly ate breakfast at our island home. If you are staying at Reef View Hotel you also have the option of buffet breakfast at the Pool Terrace.
For lunch options we mostly ate at Sails restaurant but found the meals to the very small. When you order don’t assume that the meal comes with sides unless its on the kids menu. As mentioned there is also the pool side option. The tavern also serves a great feed for lunch and dinner and you don’t need to book. The Bakery offers, bread, rolls as well as pre-made sandwiches, you will need to get in early if you don’t want to miss out. The fish and chips next door are delicious and you can enjoy them out on the tables at the marina. IGA and the bottle shop come in very handy for all your holiday supplies and for takeaway options the Pizzeria and Gelato bar deliver a pretty good pizza.
September is the best time to go and we have travelled both family trips at this time and experience perfect weather every time. Take note of the school holiday dates, as it does get quite busy over these periods. The weather is warm during the day with a top of around 28 degrees but low humidity and the evenings are comfortable with lows of 23 degrees. One particular day was a little windy and we did need a jacket but most days were spent in swimwear and thongs. Hats and sunscreen are a must as UV index is extreme and it doesn’t take much more than 30 mins to burn your skin.
- Just a few little pointers to keep in mind while you are on the island;
- You will notice all vehicles on the roads are golf carts, this is the best and easiest way to get around and heaps of fun for the kids. You can hire one or one will be provided for your stay if you have booked a holiday home.
- Please be weary of the cockatoos, they will sneak in and steal food from the kitchen even when you are home, so ensure you keep and eye on them.
- We haven’t made use of the kid’s club, but it is available if you want some kid free time. Bookings are required.
- Sun protection is a must, especially if you and the family are not accustomed to the extreme UV. Keep the sunscreen applied during the day and hats on as much as possible. I always pack the aloe vera after sun just incase but you can purchase sunscreen and after sun from a few stores at the Marina.
- If travelling between November and May, it is stinger season, so stinger suits will be needed for snorkeling and swimming in the ocean to avoid being stung by a jellyfish.
- And lastly please remember to be kind to the environment and the wildlife on and around the island. Take your rubbish or to the bin and if visiting the reef look after it.
Most importantly enjoy every moment you have to spend on Hamilton Island, it really is one of the many jewels of the Whitsundays. If you have any travel tips of your own please leave some comments for others to read. Happy travelling.