Top 10 Things to Do in Hamilton Island, Australia

Boats upon boats in Hamilton Island Marina
Boats upon boats in Hamilton Island Marina | © Tanya Puntti / Shutterstock

Known for its exclusive resorts favoured by celebrities, carless streets (golf buggies rule the road instead), and commercial airport, Hamilton Island is the definition of a luxury tropical paradise in Australia.

Hamilton is the largest inhabited island out of the 74 Whitsunday Islands. Located off the coast of Airlie Beach in north Queensland, it’s surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef and blessed with a year-round tropical climate. So pack your sundresses and swimsuits, and read this guide for the best things to do on a Hamilton Island holiday.

1. Visit WILD LIFE Hamilton Island


Koala at the Healesville Sanctuary © James Austin / Flickr
© James Austin / Flickr

Meet some of the cutest Australian animals at WILD LIFE Hamilton Island. This includes kangaroos, pademelons and koalas. Other animals you can find at WILD LIFE include dingoes, cassowary and McCulloch, a saltwater crocodile. There are snake, dingo and cockatoo encounters daily, as well as breakfast with the koalas and koala cuddle sessions. If you have ever wanted to safely get up close to an Australian animal, WILD LIFE is the place to visit.

Go for a swim

Although most of the resorts and holiday homes on Hamilton Island have swimming pools, there are actually pools located across the island that are available to everyone. There’s Sails Pool, which wraps around Sails Restaurant and has beautiful ocean views. Main Pool’s biggest drawcard is its swim-up bar, while the palm tree-fringed Bougainvillea Pool is located behind Catseye Beach. Speaking of Catseye, this beach is a popular spot for relaxing and swimming on Hamilton Island.

Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island, resembling the Caribbean

Head for a hike

For a small island, Hamilton Island sure does have a lot of hikes available. Check out this walking trails map for all of the island’s designated tracks. Passage Peak is a challenging hike with a lot of steps, but the views make the trek worthwhile. For secluded swimming spots, follow the trails to Hideaway Bay or Coral Cove. Another option is Resort Lookout, which is Hamilton Island’s second highest point. Always remember to take water and a hat, as Hamilton Island is warm year-round.

Whitsunday views from Passage Peak

Take to the water

There are so many watersport options available on Hamilton Island. Based at Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island Beach Sports is a one-stop shop, where you can hire a catamaran, snorkelling gear, kayaks and standup paddleboards. At the Marina Village, HI Watersports offers parasailing, wakeboarding and tube riding. You can also book a jet ski tour at the Hamilton Island Tour Desk. Other water-based options include sailing, hiring a dinghy and going on a Renegade Fishing Charter.

Boats upon boats in Hamilton Island Marina

2. Whitehaven Beach

Natural Feature

Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands
© Martin Valigursky / Alamy Stock Photo
Whitehaven Beach is undeniably one of the most famous beaches in Australia. Located on Whitsunday Island, the award-winning beach is home to 98% pure white silica sand, which is picture perfect when combined with the Coral Sea’s turquoise waters. Fortunately, there are several ways you can explore Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island. Cruise Whitsundays does half and full day trips, while Explore organises Sail & Snorkel and Sail & Swim trips.

Dine in luxury

There’s a reason celebrities like Oprah, Leonardo DiCaprio and Taylor Swift visit Hamilton Island — it’s home to some of Australia’s most luxurious resorts and restaurants. Bommie is a fine-dining restaurant, where bookings are essential and minimalist modern Australian fare is served. Then there is qualia, an award-winning resort with two premier waterfront dining options: Pebble Beach and Long Pavillion. Exclusive to guests or by invitation, executive chef Doug Innes-Will has created a menu that features the best Whitsunday produce.

Pebble Beach dining at qualia

Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Take advantage of Hamilton Island’s location on the Great Barrier Reef and go exploring. Cruise Whitsundays can take you to its Reefworld pontoon on Hardy Reef, where you can snorkel, dive and see fish in the underwater observatory. If you want to spend more time, you can also stay on the pontoon overnight, as part of its Reefsleep experience. There’s also the option to see the Great Barrier Reef from the air, via a seaplane or helicopter. This is the only way to spot the world famous Heart Reef.

Heart Reef

Pick the perfect spot for sunset

There’s nothing like a Whitsunday sunset. One Tree Hill is the most popular option. The hilltop bar has views of the surrounding islands, a contemporary cocktail list and a large grassy area that’s perfect for families. An alternative for grown-ups only is the Bommie Deck at Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Beside the Manta Ray Cafe, Hesperus Lawn is a great sunset spot on Sundays, as you have the live music from Marina Daze as a backdrop. Finally, along Airport Road there’s a lay-by where you can see the sunset over the marina and Yacht Club.

Sunset view from One Tree Hill

Compete in the Buggy Rally

To get around Hamilton Island, your options include the public bus or hiring a golf buggy. If you rent a golf buggy, why not have some fun and join in the Buggy Rally? The family-friendly activity involves you driving around the island and answering a series of trivia questions. Each question takes you to a different location on the island. It’s a great way to explore Hamilton Island and learn more about it along the way. Prizes are awarded for first place. For more information, visit the Sports Club, next to Reef View Hotel.

Buggies rule the road on Hamilton Island

3. Tee off at Hamilton Island Golf Club

Sports Center

Hamilton Island Golf Club is home to an 18-hole championship golf course, which is located on its own private island. Ferries transfer golfers from Hamilton to Dent Island daily. The par 71 golf course is said to be one of the world’s most challenging. It was designed by five-time British Open winner, Peter Thomson, and takes “full advantage of Mother Nature’s work.” This includes valleys, ridges, bushland and Whitsunday winds. Try not getting distracted by the breathtaking Coral Sea views.

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