Spectacularly situated in the 74-island Whitsunday Passage, Hamilton is one of the easiest destinations in the region to visit – it’s the only island with a commercial airport. Resort activities abound (bushwalking, swimming, kayaking, day spa) but here are four other options.
Visit the Great Barrier Reef
Hamilton Island is a Great Barrier Reef gateway; two scenic hours on a catamaran takes you to Hardy Reef ($230 for the day), where the Reef World pontoon offers snorkelling, diving and bone-dry reef ogling via an underwater viewing chamber in a semi-submersible. Other daytrips combine snorkelling sites with attractions such as the beautiful, 7km-long Whitehaven Beach on uninhabited Whitsunday Island.
Sailing runs in Hamilton Island owner Bob Oatley’s blood, as evidenced by his Sydney to Hobart record-breaking maxi yacht, Wild Oats XI. The Whitsundays’ annual offshore keelboat regatta (August 15-22) is Australia’s biggest and the white-sail action is best seen from Hamilton. Onshore is party central, with fashion shows, champagne lunches and celebrity chefs preparing special dégustation dinners. Year-round yachting daytrips, charters and lessons make the island an ideal sailing destination.
Share breakfast time at the Wild Life Hamilton Island café with koalas – as you butter your toast, they’ll munch their morning gum leaves on indoor, tableside branches. After a koala-nursing photo op, pop into the mini zoo featuring kangaroos, snakes, crocodiles, a cassowary and other Australian fauna. Park admission, breakfast and photo package is $75 for adults and $45 for kids.
Part eco-tour, part adrenaline rush, a one-hour jet-ski tour ($225) reaches otherwise inaccessible coves dotted about the island. Accompanied by a guide (with helmet-to-helmet intercom), you can drive or be a passenger, depending on your experience. ￼