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.
Experience quietude at Qualia
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.
SEE ALSO: Read our review on Qualia Hamilton Island
Hike into the wild
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 hunt
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 by 6pm and the next day prizes will be awarded for first, second, third and fourth places.
Practise your swing
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.
Channel a Beatle
Down Melaleuca Drive, Letsbeavenue was the name the late George Harrison gave to the home he and his wife Olivia Harrison built on Hamilton Island in the 1980s. The name was a riff on a line, “Let’s be havin’ you”, by British comedian Tommy Cooper. After the beloved Beatle’s death, it was sold for a then-record $8 million in 2008 to Melbourne developer George Adams.
Snorkel, parasail, paddleboard…
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.
Put it down on canvas
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.
Watch this incredible collaboration between Hamilton Island, Samsung and Qantas that shows just what it’s like to fly into Hamilton Island from the cockpit of a Qantas jet, take a helicopter tour over the Great Barrier Reef, swim with sea turtles and more. To get a 360-degree view, simply drag your mouse across the video. Post continues after video.
Cook your catch
The salty seadogs at Renegade Fishing Charters can steer visitors right to where the fish are biting and help you clean and gut your catch. 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. Alternatively, hire a dingy (Hamilton Island Dinghy Hire), load up on bait and tackle and take to the seas.
Strand yourself on a desert island
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-old
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 glow
The therapists at Spa Wumurdaylin know you’re on holidays and aim to amplify that feeling. Using Waterlily cold-pressed plant oils and the LI’TYA range that integrates Indigenous traditions and native plants, 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, but you won’t even know your pre-holiday self after the Bularri Yarrui hot stone massage, which employs 300-million-year-old stones.
Sample the local restaurants
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 Mooloolaba 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 caramelised lamb shoulder with sweet fish sauce and roasted red curry coral trout. The ultra exclusive Long Pavilion at Qualia is only open to guests of the hotel or by invitation. The menu includes canapés such as butter-poached marron tail and croquant of pork cheek with cauliflower, pecan and peach. Diners can select between four, six, eight or 10 courses, which vary depending on the produce in season.
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 Hill
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.