One of the Whitsundays' greatest treasures, Hamilton Island is like nowhere else in Australia. It’s a haven of pure and sophisticated calm, largely thanks to most of the island getting around using golf carts (apart from public buses and the police) and the fact there are only 1200 staff and residents present. Island roads head up far above the sea, leading the way to plenty of things to see and do, including grand viewpoints to admire the mesmerising azure waters from.
Hamilton Island is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque spots in Australia; proving a popular honeymoon and anniversary spot for many. Opportunities for romancing are endless – both on water and land.
Cuddle up on a private cruise; some sail to the famed and unspoiled Whitehaven Beach, others take place at sunset and offer dinner on board. You may even catch some cheerful dolphins competitively racing against your vessel of transport, or if you’re lucky enough humpback whales – in the area from July to October.
Paragliding, paddle boarding, parasailing – the waters are an unrivalled playground. Aside from the much heralded Great Barrier Reef, some of the best snorkelling in the country is speckled around Catseye Bay and Driftwood Bay, blessed with charismatic coral reefs and colourful fish of all sizes darting about within them. Kayaking in calmer spots is also a great way to explore. Keep your eyes peeled for green turtles swimming peacefully in more shallow waters.
Back on land, the island plays host to a Buggy Rally run by the Sports Club, a great way to acquaint yourself with restaurants, shops and other major landmarks. In groups of four people maximum, teams must drive around the island and answer a series of questions related to it. Think of it like a mini Amazing Race; first place scores a prize!
If you’d like to ramp up the speed that little bit more (buggies only go up to 40km per hour), go go-karting! Ideal for groups wanting to channel their competitive sides.
The island is graced with plenty of hiking trails that meander through its iconic, verdant terrain. If you’re up for a challenge, embark on a hike up to Passage Peak on the northeast section of the island. Commencing on the Scenic Trail, followed by the Saddle Trail, the peak reveals an utterly rewarding view of not just the island itself, but the broader Whitsundays.
Avid golfers will be familiar with the world-class Hamilton Island Golf Club (actually located on adjacent Dent Island). They can expect to lose some balls, not due to lack of skill, but the distraction of the stunning coral-blue sea. Golfer or not, it’s still worth a visit, the elegant clubhouse is perfect for a drink or lunch.
Culinary indulgence to remember
For casual meals when walking the main strip, there's Bob’s Bakery and a super fresh fish and chip shop. But memorable meals on Hamilton Island are a little more upmarket.
If you ask the locals, Coca Chu is unanimously the island's best restaurant, serving up Asian-inspired dishes with a modern Australian kiss. Long Pavilion at Qualia is the most exclusive option, only open to guests of the hotel or by invitation. Diners can choose between four, six, eight or 10 courses; and menus are structured depending on what's in season.
The Yacht Club’s Bommie Restaurant is another fine-diner, flaunting what can be made from the best of local seafood including reef fish and Mooloolaba bugs. There's also a tasting menu if you don't feel like making any decisions.
Splash out on some serious luxury
The northern tip of the island is home to the $100 million, six-star ultra-resort Qualia. It’s celebrated as one of Australia's most epic resorts, awarded with numerous national and international accolades. If you can’t afford to stay, you could still splash out on a visit to the spa. Choose from diverse massage treatments, facial and body therapies, in stunningly designed rooms that look out to lush bushland and the waters that encompass it. Couples packages are also available.