When you hear “Australia”, the first thing you start thinking about is either the snakes people randomly find in their garages or the kangaroos that freely wander around residential areas. While that might be true for some areas, that’s not all there is in the land down under!
In one of the islands close to the Great Barrier Reef lies a great summer destination, Hamilton Island. It is one of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. The island is surrounded by pristine beaches, the most notable of which is the Whitehaven beach.
Getting to Hamilton Island
There are commercial flights coming from major Australian cities, like Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, that take you to Hamilton Island Airport (HTI). When you get to the airport and you have a checked in baggage, you might be wondering where to get your bags. Baggage claim is outside the airport, near the area where people are waiting for shuttles and where the golf buggies are parked. It is a small airport so don’t expect baggage carousels and stuff. From the airport, there are free shuttle buses that drop people to different accommodations on the island. The island is well managed and centralized. So just ask around where you should wait for the shuttle that goes to this hotel. If you’re carrying your entire home, worry not! The shuttle has a baggage carriage; not sure what it’s called exactly but the point is there’s space for your 10 bags! Alternatively, you can pre-book a golf buggy which you can pick up from the airport and use to drive around and explore the island (not recommended if you actually have 10 bags).
Where to stay
Where you stay definitely depends on your budget. If you can afford a 1200 AUD pavilion, why not? You’re on a vacation! Pamper yourself as much as you can! Kidding aside, there’s a wide range of options to choose from. From pavilions or beach clubs to bungalows to hotels and holiday homes. We stayed at a holiday home at the Catseye Beach side. Our room (~340 AUD/night) was very well equipped, huge, clean, and has a great view of the beach!
What to do
Visit Whitehaven beach
Whether you have a week-long or just a 3-day vacation, the ultimate to-do here is to take a cruise to the Whitehaven beach. It is by far the most paradise-like beach I’ve ever seen. There are no hotels or anything on this side of the Whitsunday Island and it can only be reached via a boat, seaplane, or a helicopter. There are half-day or full-day cruises from Hamilton Island that can take you to there. Aside from enjoying the clear water and white sand, you can also do a short hike up to the lookout and get a view of the beach from above. Be careful though, as the island is well protected and preserved, there are wild animals around. Aside from a trip to the Whitehaven beach, you can also take a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. We didn’t take this cruise though so I’m afraid I can’t say much about it. But for all cruise types, just head to the Marina Village and there’s a booth you can approach there.
Explore Hamilton Island
Aside from taking a cruise to reefs or other islands, you can also just roam around the island itself. Book a golf buggy for a day or for your entire trip duration (recommended if you don’t like walking around) and explore the entire island in 30 minutes! There are exclusive and unreachable areas though so not exactly the entire island.
Take Selfies At One Tree Hill
A perfect spot to take photos or just enjoy the view is at One Tree Hill. (The featured photo was taken at One Tree Hill.) There is also a restaurant there in case you feel hungry after all the golf buggy driving.
Enjoy the beaches
Alternatively, you can just enjoy the amenities in your accommodation. Swim at the beach or the pools or sunbathe! Warning though, there are stingrays at the beach (at least at the Catseye beach). The cruise includes stingray suits that you can borrow which they distribute during the trip.
The main “life” of the island is at the Marina Village. All the restaurants, bakeries, and shops are there. There’s even a grocery! So if you don’t feel like eating out, you can just buy stuff there and have a cookout at your place (hotels might not allow that but the holiday homes would).
There is a pharmacy there and a few shops towards the far right end of the Marina Village in case you need to buy medicine or beach-ing essentials like hats, sunscreen, swimsuits, etc. There is also a souvenir shop to your left right when you get down to the Marina Village (where you’ll usually find parked golf buggies).
You can pre-book a buggy online 72 hrs before your trip or just rent one at the airport or at the resorts side. If you have children less than 4 years old, you will be required to rent a child restraint too. But this is free if you are staying in a hotel or holiday home. (But if you can afford a house there, surely you can rent a child restraint too!) You don’t need a training to drive them but a driver’s license is required upon pick up of the buggy. And they also give you a short info session where they make you watch a video about the parts of the buggy and how to operate it (break/gas pedal and how and where to charge it). A staff will also introduce you to your assigned buggy and you can ask questions in case you missed something in the video or want to clarify anything.
There you have it! A glimpse of the paradise I found down under. I hope this post helps you know more about the island if you’re planning to go there or inspire you enough to put this on your travel destination goals! May it be with your SO or family or friends, this island is a perfect vacation destination!