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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.