One of the 74 islands of the Whitsundays in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Hamilton Island is one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations, and for good reason. From pristine white beaches, to bushwalking tours, to spa indulgences, here are our top five ways to experience the island.
Above, on, and below the water
Top of the list is of course, spending time enjoying the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef. You can explore the islands from above on scenic flights by light aircraft or helicopter for a bird’s eye view over the island, often accompanied by a champagne picnic on stunning Whitehaven Beach. You could also take a day trip to Reefworld to snorkel amongst the kaleidoscope of coral and marine life (you can even spend the night under the stars) on the outer reef – far from any island in sight. Or perhaps you’d prefer to hire a sea kayak, go windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding or parasailing. If you’re not keen on getting wet, there’s always the chance to set sail aboard a luxury yacht or a laidback glass-bottom boat tour, or embrace your sense of adventure on a jet ski or jet boat tour.
Lace up your walking boots
Hamilton Island also offers magnificent walking trails, so put your walking shoes on, and find the path that’s right for you. There’s a range of trails, depending on your fitness level, and how far you want to walk, whether it’s discovering the island’s secluded coves or climbing to the top of Passage Peak for panoramic views. There is also a wide selection of organised tours, ranging from bushwalking expeditions to audio walking tours that you can download to your smartphone.
On car-free Hamilton Island, one of the best ways to get around is to hire a four-seater electric buggy and drive around at your own pace. No special skills are needed, and it’s a fun way to explore the islands’ natural attractions, shops and restaurants. The Hamilton Island Sports Club organises a daily Buggy Rally, where you drive around the island answering a series of trivia questions, with each question taking you to a new location. Or experience the thrill of go-kart racing at Hamilton Island’s Palm Valley track.
Play a round of golf on Dent Island
For keen golfers, the Hamilton Island Golf Club is the only 18-hole championship course in Australia on its own island. Next to Hamilton Island on Dent Island, the course crosses ridges and valleys that will challenge every golfer from beginners to professionals. The clubhouse, overlooking the Coral Sea, catches the cool sea breezes and is a great spot for long, relaxed lunches. If you’re looking for a fun family activity for all ages, head to the Hamilton Island Mini Golf course.
Unwind and indulge
While there are plenty of active activities, another way to experience Hamilton Island is simply to do nothing, or very little, at all. Hamilton Island Art Gallery’s art classes give you the opportunity to learn a rewarding new skill in a tranquil environment - with classes for beginners, right through to experienced painters - hosted by different guest artists in residence. Or head to Spa wumurdaylin for an indulgent day of rest and rejuvenation with massage treatments for the body, mind and soul. Hamilton Island’s beautiful beaches also makes it incredibly easy to while away the hours with nothing more than a good book and a cocktail, with a little umbrella in it, in your hand.
As the only island in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, it is possible to fly direct to Hamilton Island from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns for an easy and quick island getaway. And with six different levels of accommodation to choose from across the island – from luxury couples’ retreats to family-friendly bungalows – it's clear that a holiday to Hamilton Island truly offers something for everyone.