The crystal blue waters crashing against the talcum powder white sand coastline make Hamilton Island the perfect family getaway destination. After a never-ending Covid induced trap of border closures and restrictions, Mrs. FOMOist and I decided it was time to take a break. With excitement of a 2 year-old, we booked our flights and accommodation within 4 weeks and we were living it up on the island in under a month.
Where is Hamilton Island?
Hamilton Island is one of the Whitsunday Islands close to the Great Barrier Reef. It is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsunday Islands and a popular tourist destination all year round.
Getting to Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island is the easiest of the islands to get to. It is one of the only islands in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, with direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Alternatively you can take a ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island or any of the other islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Since we were travelling with Little Miss FOMOist, flying direct to the Hamilton Island was the best option.
Where to stay on Hamilton Island?
As the winner of multiple awards including the Australian Traveller “Most Desirable Island Escape” Award in 2015, Hamilton Island has an array of accommodation options to suit most budgets. You can choose from a range of luxury hotels, or do what we did, stay at a Holiday Home. Hamilton Island is privately owned, so nothing is really “cheap”. But, if you consider that you’re on an island with a small geography and beautiful coastline, the prices don’t seem all that bad.
Self Catered Holiday Homes
We booked The Poinciana Apartments directly with Hamilton Island Holiday Homes. The accommodation came with a range of inclusions like:
- Golf buggy
Hot Tip! Golf Buggy was a life saver! Hamilton Island is mostly car free. So unless you REALLY like walking or don’t mind waiting around for shuttles, hiring a golf buggy is the best way to explore the island.
- Snorkeling Gear hire
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Kids Eat Free (a life saver with a little one)
If you do prefer to stay at a hotel, Reef View Hotel is centrally located with beautiful ocean view rooms.
If you are looking for something a bit more indulgent, you can’t skip passed the luxurious qualia. I’ve heard that staying at qualia is an experience on it’s own. Plus, if you plan your trip quick enough, you might just be rubbing shoulders with Hollywood Royalty, George Clooney and Julia Roberts, who currently call it home.
Best time to visit Hamilton Island for a Perfect Getaway
We went in October. While it’s known to be the prime season for the northerlies bringing in the blue bottle jellyfish to the shore, I wouldn’t go any other time. The weather was a perfect 29 degrees Celsius. The water was a perfect 25 – 26 degrees Celsius. And most importantly, with limited or no shade on the beach, I would hate to be baking in the hot summer sun.
Best Restaurants on Hamilton Island (specially with a toddler)
For a small island, Hamilton Island has a range of eating out (and in) options to suit all styles, budgets and configuration. Since we had Little Miss FOMOist dining with us, we made sure we always went to busy (loud) places. Thankfully most of these places were on the “Kids Eat Free” list so we weren’t the loudest table.
- Manta Ray – This was the first place we had dinner and boy were we off to a good start! Their menu is described as “modern-Australian” but it definitely has an Asian twist. Little Miss devoured the Spaghetti Bolognese, while the chicken coconut curry delighted all my senses. This will definitely be my No. 1 recommendation.
- TAKO – The only Mexican place on the island, TAKO encourages diners to order a range of sharing plates to make the most out of their menu. We found the range, the food and the atmosphere to be a little bit disappointing. It does have a beautiful view of the Marina though. Oh and Little Miss wasn’t enthused with four pieces of fried chicken fingers that were served to her on a taco.
- Sails – This place is another must-visit with a family. This place is busy, loud, very quick service and great views of the Catseye Beach.
In addition to the restaurants, the IGA (and a bottle shop) is fully stocked and reasonably priced if you wanted to spend a chilled out night, making the most of your self-contained apartment like we did. Also, the cafes on the island serve surprisingly good coffee.
Where we didn’t go to eat
There was also a Tavern on the island that looked fun, but not with a toddler. A restaurant called Romano’s looked super nice and fancy with ladies and gents dressed up to the nines. Again, we didn’t want to spoil their dinner date with our beautiful little girl’s adorable squeals.
What is there to do on Hamilton Island?
Our Hamilton Island perfect getaway with our little family has been the most relaxing yet. Depending on your plan, you can either choose to relax or make the most of on and off-island activities.
Hamilton Island has two main sides to it. One is the Marina side with all the shops, restaurants and where the ferries arrive/depart from. On the other side is the beautiful turquoise water beach where you can choose to relax or snorkel. While there is lots of soft white sand, Catseye Beach also has a lot of coral around.
As mentioned above, if you stay at the Hamilton Island Holiday Homes, a range of activities are already included with your stay. However, you could spend the day snorkeling or learning to sail and then sailing off with your family. There are also a range of walks/hikes that you could do to visit secluded beaches and vantage points.
We unfortunately didn’t pack any shoes so spent most of our days dotted in/around the beach.
In addition to the beach(es), there are also three free pools that you and your family can use.
Day trips from Hamilton Island (Whitehaven Beach)
Since Hamilton Island is the only of the Whitsundays Islands with an airport, it’s a great spot to use and explore the other little islands around. We took a daytrip to Whitehaven Beach. If you read enough blogs, you will be convinced to do this daytrip at a cost of $120pp. While it was beautiful, I don’t think it was worth the time and money. Whitehaven Beach is beautiful, but with the ferries coming in and out, the shore is quite “sandy”. However, if the cost doesn’t bother you and you’ve done enough “chilling by the beach” at Hamilton Island, a trip to Whitehaven Beach is a great change of scene.
So, this is a great outline of what we got up to over our Hamilton Island Perfect Getaway. I hope this post and images inspire you to go out and explore this beautiful Queensland gem. If you do have any questions, please feel free to pop them in the comments section and I’ll be happy to answer them. Or if you’ve been to Hamilton Island and have a recommendation of your own, feel free to tell us all about it.