Fragrant tropical evenings and salty days drenched in sunlight are just half of Hamilton Island’s appeal. Not only is it a launchpad for the Great Barrier Reef’s most precious gems, but few Aussie destinations make travelling with kids so easy.
Spend hours splashing in the pool
Wherever you are on the planet, young children on holiday care about one thing above all else – the pool. Luckily they are bountiful on Hamilton Island, from the Reef View Hotel’s palm-fringed offering to the snaking expanse of turquoise just steps from the ocean at Yacht Club Villas. The island has three pools for public use: Main Pool at Catseye Beach (complete with live music and swim-up bar for the parents) is the largest swimming spot on Hamilton Island; Bougainvillea Pool, a heated option snuggled up to the Beach Pavilion is perfect for toddlers to splash; and Sails Pool – next to family-friendly Sails Restaurant – means an afternoon parked poolside can melt seamlessly into dinner in a matter of footsteps.
Sleep over the ocean (and under the stars)
Turtles, reef sharks and two-metre-long Queensland Gropers dance a tropical chorus line in the waters of Hardy Reef – home to Reefworld Pontoon – located about three hours away from the mainland from Airlie Beach by catamaran. Kids (six and older) will love sleeping overnight on the pontoon’s purpose-built deck beds thanks to the two-day, one-night adventure of the Whitsundays Cruising’s Reefsleep Experience. Spend the day snorkelling, exploring the underwater observatory – a room fitted with full-length windows that sits beneath the pontoon and gives amazing views of the reef wildlife – or ride in a semi-submarine. When the clutter of tourist boats clears for the evening, you’re left with nothing but the sound of the ocean and the Milky Way above.
Get their adrenaline pumping in Palm Valley
Waterlogged? Spend a morning away from the pool tearing around Palm Valley’s rugged dirt tracks and Recreational Reserve. A mini quad-biking course is suitable for tiny humans aged six to 14 and gives a taste of adventure on a short, purpose built, child-friendly circuit. Ditto the adjacent go-kart track, where kids can fly solo or, if they're under 150cm, ride shotgun with a parent.
Travel light (and eat free!)
Beyond the refurbished Palm Bungalows – and it’s mixture of modern amenities and lofty exposed beam ceilings – the laidback A-frame cabins offer a full suite of necessities for parents (that are free to request) including cots, high chairs, prams and even microwaves that can be set up and waiting in your room when you arrive. Further, guests under 12 can stay and eat free in participating restaurants on the island, with options such as chicken nuggets and chips available at Sails, Napoli pasta at Manta Ray and cheeseburger with fries at the Pool Terrace.
Explore the ocean your way
The kids will love keeping their eyes peeled for playful humpback whales (between June and September) to crown-of-thorns starfish peering silently up from the ocean floor. Your options for exploration end only at the limits of your imagination, as all guests of Reef View Hotel, Palm Bungalows and Hamilton Island Holiday Homes receive complimentary use of non-motorised water sport equipment (masks, snorkels, kayaks, SUPs, catamarans and more). An invitation too good to pass up.