Of the 74 islands of the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is the one that has something for everyone. Swimming, snorkelling and relaxing are par for the course, but there is also a pop-up sunset bar, a golf-buggy treasure hunt and the house George Harrison built. Have the island holiday of your dreams with our favourite things to do on Hamilton Island.
Hike into the wild1/14
Despite the plethora of resorts, restaurants and entertainments on the island, most of Hamilton is virgin rainforest, best explored on one of the many walking trails that crisscross the island. For a challenge, head up to Passage Peak to the northeast of the island. Start on the Scenic Trail then connect with the Saddle Trail to reach the summit of the peak and a spectacular view of the Whitsundays.
Go on a buggy treasure hunt2/14
It’s pretty novel just driving around the island in a golf buggy (cars are banned here) but if you want to make things a little more interesting, take part in a Buggy Rally. In teams of four or fewer, you must drive around the island obtaining the answers to a series of questions about Hamilton Island. Drop your answers off at the Sports Club, prizes will be awarded for first place.
Practise your swing3/14
Shoulder your clubs for a round in paradise at the Hamilton Island Golf Club. It’s actually a misnomer: the course is located on nearby Dent Island, but it’s easily reached by ferry. The challenging 18-hole championship golf course has to be one of the world’s most beautiful courses. Return ferry transfers and a golf buggy are included in the price of your round.
Snorkel, parasail, paddleboard…4/14
From the curving bay of Catseye Beach it’s possible to undertake an array of water sports that run the gamut from relaxed (a guided snorkelling tour) to white-knuckled (parasailing). Hire a kayak, catamaran, jetski or paddleboard – Hamilton Island Beach Sports can rent you everything you need.
Image credit: Hamilton Island
Put it down on canvas5/14
If you just can’t capture that glorious Hamilton Island sunset on your iPhone camera, perhaps it can be conveyed in oils. Hamilton Island Art Gallery runs art classes led by the island’s current artist-in-residence. There are also special classes for kids.
Cook your catch6/14
Hire a dingy (Hamilton Island Dinghy Hire), load up on bait and tackle and take to the seas. Proudly present the fruits of your labour to the chef at your hotel, or cook it up yourself if there’s a kitchen in your accommodation
Strand yourself on a desert island7/14
Wannabe castaways take heed: the Whitsundays is made up of 74 immaculate islands, and most of them are uninhabited national park islands. Hire a sailboat or a dingy, pack a picnic and head off to spend the day on your own private island.
Keep up with a 100-year-old8/14
The Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the world’s most incredible marine life, including venerable sea turtles. Take a Deep Water Turtle Discovery tour to meet some of the reef’s turtles, as well as other species that will hang around, accustomed to human interaction.
Get that island glow9/14
The therapists at Spa Wumurdaylin know you’re on holidays and aim to amplify that feeling. The treatments include facials and massages, three-hour full-body packages and specialty treatments for couples and pregnant women. At Spa Qualia, the focus is on de-stressing, anti-ageing and detoxifying. The sanctuary, with its water features, lush greenery and warm wooden features, is an instant balm to the soul.
Sample the local restaurants10/14
All-inclusive buffets serve their purpose, but when you’re after a grown-up meal Hamilton has plenty of top-notch options. The longstanding fine-diner Bommie Restaurant serves fresh local seafood such as Moreton Bay bugs and reef fish and offers a tasting menu devised by head chef Trent Dawson. Newcomer Coca Chu is serving up Asian-style dishes with Australian flair, such as crispy whole baby barramundi with 3 flavour caramel red nahm jim green apple and mint and yellow curry with roasted pumpkin. The ultra exclusive Long Pavilion at Qualia is only open to guests of the hotel or by invitation. The menu includes canapés such as kangaroo tartare and pea parfait.
Image credit: Sunsail
Hire a yacht from Sunsail Yacht Charters and navigate around the beautiful islands of the Whitsundays. Not a sailor? No problem, just hire a skipper to come along – he or she will also know all the best spots to snorkel, swim and go ashore.
Cocktail hour at One Tree Hill12/14
A makeshift bar springs up late each afternoon at One Tree Hill, one of the highest points on the island. Jump in your golf buggy or hitch a ride on the free island bus to the summit in time for cocktail hour. Warning: you may find yourself juggling a glass of Champagne and your camera in an attempt to document for posterity (and Instagram) just how glorious it is. #Goals.
Experience quietude at Qualia13/14
Hamilton Island’s most luxurious resort is without a doubt Qualia. The temple to comfort is located on the secluded northern tip of the island and surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. The suites take the form of 60 individual pavilions with views of the azure waters and the lush bushland. Depending on the pavilion, guests may enjoy sun-drenched decks, private plunge pools and daybeds, while in the Beach House, a 10-seat dining area and separate guesthouse await.