Just off the coast of northern Queensland, Australia, in the idyllic Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is surrounded by the Great Barrier reef, which makes it one of the country’s favourite holiday spots. And with endless white-sand beaches, teal waters and abundant wildlife — green turtles, humpback whales and their calves — you can understand why. Here’s our pick of the island’s best hotels, so you can get the most out of your stay.
With views over the lush garden views or onto the Coral Sea, Reef View Hotel sits directly opposite Hamilton Island’s most prized Catseye beach — locations don’t come much better than this. Use of a catamaran, windsurfer or stand-up paddleboard are included in your stay. And when you’re not in or on the water, retreat to the hotel’s luxe day spa for a spot of pampering.
Touted as the world’s best resort back in 2012 by Condé Nast Traveller, qualia (luckily) lives up to the hype, with no expense is spared. The resort sits in 12ha (30 acres) of native gardens, with the clear Whitsundays water glimpsed through palm fronds. Instead of rooms, there are 60 expansive pavilions with floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the sea views. The design is achingly modern; many include a private plunge pool and deep-soak tub.
Among a haven of eucalyptus trees, the charming Palm Bungalows sit in a neat row just moments from Catseye beach. Each features a contemporary studio-style interior (including a kitchenette) and private balcony with hammock – the best place to take in the balmy weather. Here, you’ll have full access to the facilities next door at the Reef View Hotel, meaning a day on a catamaran is in order.
Whether you’re travelling as a couple, family, group or even by yourself, Hamilton Island Holiday Homes has a property to suit your needs. All homes exude luxury, and most come with a view of the Coral Sea and a private pool. Here, kids stay and eat for free, and there’s also access to sea-focused activities such as windsurfing and snorkelling. You’ll also be provided with a golf buggy to zip around the island during your stay.
Sitting directly on Catseye beach, but sheltered from the nearby hubbub by a palm grove, the Beach Club offers the best of both worlds. Aussie interior designers Hare and Klein are responsible for the public spaces and all 57 rooms, each wrapped in a mix of neutral and marine tones with egg-shaped tubs in the ensuites. The beachfront restaurant is ideal for balmy evenings, where you can dine on modern Queensland-sourced cuisine.
Back on the mainland, about an hour’s ferry ride from Hamilton Island, at Waterfront Whitsunday Retreat is a deeply romantic option. This couples-only accommodation sits directly above Pioneer Bay, moments from the famed Airlie Beach (be sure to catch the Whitsunday Saturday market while you’re here). The boutique retreat has just five spa suites, each equipped with a marble-clad kitchen and Peter Morrissey toiletries – opt for the top-floor jacuzzi penthouse if you can.
With Airlie Beach, the gateway to Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays just around the corner, Blue Horizon Resort Apartments is perfectly placed for exploring tropical northern Queensland. Each of the one-, two- and three-bedroom Balinese-inspired apartments features a full kitchen and laundry as well as a balcony offering views of the crystalline waters. The Great Barrier Reef is the real draw in this area, and the team here are able to arrange flights over the ever-Instagrammable Heart Reef or cruises along the natural wonder itself.