I take every opportunity to escape Winter, so when I spied Jetstar’s free return fares offer recently I was ‘Johnny on the spot’ (as mentioned in my tips on grabbing a bargain airfare) and snapped up two return tickets to Hamilton Island for a measly $300. It’s been 13 years since I was last on Hamilton Island and while some things have changed, many remain exactly as they were preserved in my memory. Hamilton Island is in Queensland’s Whitsundays region, a short distance from the mainland and a perfect gateway to Australia’s world famous Great Barrier Reef. The region is truly a slice of paradise, so it’s no wonder celebrities like Oprah (who also brought 93 of her fans along for the ride!), Miranda Kerr, Taylor Swift, Naomi Watts, Cate Blachett, Leonardo DiCaprio and Gorden Ramsey have all visited. If you want to find out exactly what draws thousands of visitors to this spectacular island every year read on for all the details …
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Hamilton Island Overview
The experts think Hamilton Island was first inhabited up to 8000 years ago by the Ngaro people. Captain Cook sailed by in 1770 but left it largely untouched. Tourists started discovering the island’s beauty in the 1920’s and it gained popularity in the 1970’s and 80’s but it wasn’t until Bob Oatley bought the island in 2003 for a reported $200m that it was developed the luxury destination that we know today. One of Hamilton Island’s greatest draw-cards is the airport that was built in the early 80’s offering direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Search for flights on Expedia to compare all the options side by side. Hamilton Island enjoys enviable weather year round and even in winter temps are mild enough to enjoy a dip in surrounding water, making it a perfect destination for shivering southerners from June – August, so dust off those summer clothes (see what I wore here, here and here), pack a bag and head up north now.
Where To Stay On Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island is not known as a budget destination but there are lots of options available in terms of where you lay your head. If you have money to burn, like luxury and what to escape the riff raff you need to be at Qualia. While it looks amazing, a starting price of $1000 a night puts it out of my league. The Beach Club and The Yacht Club Villas also offer a level of luxury and exclusivity but with a slighter lower price tag. We chose instead to stay at the more reasonable priced Whitsunday apartments (read my full review here) which offered everything we needed for our four nights. The Palm Bungalows and Reef View Hotel sit somewhere in between. If you are looking for something different why not try a holiday home? There are lots on offer and you are sure to find something to suit. Air BnB is also an option, particularly for groups and many properties come with a golf buggy. Don’t book on Air BnB without claiming a $40 Air BnB credit on me to save even more. Do your own search on Expedia to see what is available for your preferred dates.
There are no cars on Hamilton Island (except for service vehicles) so you essentially have three choices; walk, buggy or the bus. You can hire a buggy for $87 a day and it’s a fun way to explore, but like us, you won’t need it for the whole time you are there. Hamilton Island is relatively compact so getting around on foot is easy if you don’t mind the odd hill here and there. The the free purple, orange and green buses will sort you out when you’ve had enough of shanks’ pony. To get the lay of the land, I suggest getting on either a purple of orange bus and doing one full loop at the start of your stay.
Wining & Dining
One of the biggest changes I noticed since our last visit was the improvement in dining options on Hamilton island. Every taste is catered for and options range from casual to fine dining. We sampled quite a few and my favourites were the Marina Tavern, Manta Ray and Coca Chu. Check out my detailed post on eating out on HI here.
Things To Do
For a small island there is plenty to keep you amused on Hamilton Island. Each week HIE publishes an activity guide which I suggest you download before you go to get the very best out of your time on the ground. While most activities are at a cost there are a few free options sprinkled in for good measure. As you would expect many options are on the water and we loved our Explore sunset cruise and Whitehaven Beach trips which were not as exy as you may think. Walking trails abound on the island, so make sure you pack some decent shoes as thongs just won’t cut it on these trails. Bowling, go karting and a wildlife park will keep the kids amused and adults can hang out in the gym or the spa for a bit of ahhh and ahhh. Shopping is a little lack lustre but I still managed to pick up a fun bangle from the marina shops and some essential eye cream from the gift store. Catseye beach is the epicentre of HI’s watersports with kayaks and catamarans available for hire. Night life is a little slow in this part of the world but on the weekend you might be lucky to catch some live music at the tavern. Most importantly, take some time to relax and soak up some sunshine on a deckchair on the sand.
If you haven’t been to Hamilton Island or if it’s been a while, it might just be a perfect time to visit!
Until Next Time …
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links for which a small commission may be paid. As always all opinions are my own.
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