Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands are a dream come true for many travellers. There’s an embarrassment of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, from snorkelling or diving the Great Barrier Reef, to soaring above it on a scenic flight, to sailing around the gloriously green islands, stopping to walk on white sand and dip in aquamarine sea, and indulging in luxurious spa treatments and equally sumptuous meals.
But what of the lucky few who get to live and work here 365 days of the year? Do they suffer from paradise fatigue? Hardly. On a recent trip, we asked the locals for their favourite things to do on Hamilton Island and in the Whitsundays.
Hamilton Island is the main island in the Whitsundays, boasting several types of accommodation; myriad cafes and restaurants; great bushwalks, such as the famed Passage Peak walk; picturesque Catseye Beach, where you can swim out on a turtle tour; an army of buggies to get around; and even its own airport. The Hamilton Island Golf Course is actually on nearby Dent Island. Guests can run or walk the picturesque course each month in the Dent Dash. Here’s what the island’s executive concierge had to say about her favourite things to do.
Laurelle Fazel, executive concierge
“My favourite thing to do is the Dent Dash at the golf course. At 6am you get the boat over, and then all the fit people dash around – I call it Dent Dawdle, the way I do it – and then the golf club puts on a beautiful breakfast.
“If that’s not on, then lunch (at the golf course) – if I have friends visiting, I take them over for lunch and then surprise them with the helicopter. We jump in and fly to qualia helipad for a Champagne moment. It’s a real wow moment – but it has to be at the general manager’s discretion.”
WILD LIFE Hamilton Island
WILD LIFE Hamilton Island is a hands-on Australian animal wildlife park, and one of the few places in the world where you can cuddle a koala. You can even have breakfast with the koalas. Other animals include Freddie the talking cockatoo and Hippo the wombat, as well as dingoes, cassowaries, kangaroos and McCulloch the crocodile. Here’s what staff of the wildlife park, operated by Merlin Entertainments, had to say about their favourite Hamilton Island pursuits.
Rob Hall, general manager
“Mine is to get out and enjoy the water and enjoy the fishing. There’s beautiful reef fishing, pelagic fishing, game fishing.”
Nicole Sauer, head keeper
“Passage Peak (bushwalk) is my new favourite thing to do. You can get great photos, too, if you get up there for sunrise.”
More Whitsundays inspiration:
Luxurious qualia is an exclusive resort on the secluded northern-most tip of Hamilton Island. It’s where the stars come to stay and enjoy complete privacy. Its two restaurants offer stunning cuisine with equally stunning water views. Enjoy VIP Signature Experiences, from personal beach drop-offs to spoiling yourself at the spa. Apart from all that, here’s what qualia’s executive assistant manager had to say about what he loves to do on Hamilton Island.
Scott Ratcliffe, executive assistant manager
“Passage Peak – just to go for a walk up there and have a look at the view.”
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill on Hamilton Island is where one and all come to watch the sun go down. And, luckily for us, there just happens to be a bar up there, serving cocktails that add a certain rosy glow all of their own to the sunset. Here’s what a few of the staff behind the bar had to say about what they like to do on their days off.
Brittany Bell, One Tree Hill bartender
“Going into Catseye Beach and snorkelling and seeing the turtles.”
Zoe Bell, events operations supervisor
“Just hiring a buggy for the day.”
Sailing, snorkelling, scuba, sleepovers – Cruise Whitsundays does it all, offering a range of excursions from Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach. Cruise out to the Reefworld pontoon for the day to explore gorgeous Hardy Reef – or spend the night under the stars on a Reefsleep adventure. Take a day trip to the world-renowned Whitehaven Beach, where all you have to think about is whether to dawdle down the sand for another dip. Here’s what Cruise Whitsundays staff had to say about their favourite Whitsundays outings.
Danielle Krista, PR manager
“My favourite thing on Hamilton Island – I think it’s sunset at One Tree Hill. My daughter’s favourite thing on Hamilton Island is going on a golf buggy. My favourite thing in the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach – I don’t even have to think about it. I got married on Whitehaven Beach.”
Lauren Scarcella, guest relations & reservations manager
“I like the hikes around the area and to get out on the water. To go out to Hamilton for breakfast, then cruise out to Whitehaven and play beach cricket with my mates.”
So there you have it – the locals aren’t that different from the rest of us. And however you choose to spend your time, Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays will never disappoint.