The tropical beauty of Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays is a must-do experiences for many travellers to Queensland. Here are our top suggestions for things to do on Hamilton Island.
1. Dabble in art
Brisbane artist Greg Wardle is a frequent visitor to Hamilton Island and the longest serving resident artist at the island’s gallery. He tries to spend as much time as he can on the island and continues to be inspired by the natural beauty of the landscape which has earned him a worldwide reputation as a ‘marine’ artist. Wardle is just one of a roster of artists that provide classes at Hamilton Island Art Gallery during the year. Adult classes from $69* at the Hamilton Island Art Gallery.
2. Eat at Coca Chu
Inspired by the street food of South East Asia Coca Chu serves up dishes such as the perennial favourite ‘Son in Law’s Eggs’ with green mango and yellow bean sauce and ‘Crispy Pigs Ears’ with peanuts, pickled chilli ginger, fluffy shrimp and sweet fish sauce for starters. Even the sides are beyond ordinary with choices such as stir fried siamese watercress with chilli, garlic, soy and oyster dressing. Situated on the edge of Catseye Beach. Prices from $6* or mains from $28. Open 7 days, evenings only, next to the resort centre.
3. Island golf
Dent Island’s lighthouse has been a beacon for sailors since the 1870s but now the island, just a five-minute ferry ride from Hamilton’s resorts, is home to a par 71, 18-hole championship golf course and first class clubhouse with restaurant. Designed by five-time British Open winner, Peter Thomson, it’s also Australia’s only golf course occupying its own island. The hilly terrain – and the distraction of awesome views – make it a challenging course for all levels. Costs from $110 for 9 holes, plus clubs and shoes are available for hire.
4. Walk to the Peak
The final leg of the trek to Passage Peak is quite steep and more like a climb than a walk but worth the effort to see the best views north and south of the surrounding Whitsunday Passage. Depending where you start, the walk can be from between two to just over two and a half kilometres long to the highest point on Hamilton Island but from July to September it’s possible to be rewarded with sightings of whales in the distance. Not quite so high, the Resort Lookout, also reached from the Scenic Trail entrance, drops off to sheer cliff faces and offers a panoramic view of the main resort area, marina village and surrounding islands. There are also several walking trails to secluded beach coves.
5. Go wild
A fresh way to start the day is breakfast with the koalas at the Wild Life Centre on the resort side of the island. Breakfast sessions start at 7.30am, then you can explore the rest of the centre at leisure to see all kinds of Australian marsupials, snakes, lizards and kangaroos, and witness a crocodile feeding session. There are guided tours at 10am and 4pm and various photo sessions in between where you can cuddle a koala or get a selfie with various birds, reptiles or a dingo. In the warmer months the park’s crocodile comes out of hiding for feeding sessions! General admission to Wild Life Centre, $27* per adult and $16* per child (unlimited entry for duration of stay). Bookings required with Wild Life Centre for some sessions.
6. Swim with the turtles
Just a short paddle from Catseye Beach, the Deep Water Turtle Discovery Tour takes swimmers on an exploration of the fringing reefs around the island to see turtles sculling above the seabed and myriad colourful fish. Costs $35* per adult, $20* per child (under age 12) and includes a tour guide, snorkelling equipment and life vest. Available from Hamilton Island Beach Sports. Tour days depend on tides.
7. Take action
From jet skis and jet boat rides to parasailing, quad bikes and off-road adventuring there’s plenty to get the adrenalin pumping on and off the water at Hamilton Island. Jetski tours are led by an experienced guide who knows the best route around the waterways and provides an insight to the area while viewing the local marine life. Cost from $229 per ski (plus $40 for a passenger). Single and tandem paraflights offer a bird’s eye view from more than 40 metres high and take off and landings from a pontoon mean you don’t even need to get wet. Cost from $120, single; $155 tandem. Meanwhile an Offroad Adventure tour can take you to more secluded beaches such as Coral Cove. Cost $159 per vehicle for one hour.
8. Sleep under the stars
OK, technically this one is not on Hamilton Island, but it’s a special experience to pull up a swag overnight and sleep under the stars for a Reef Sleep on Hardy Reef. When the day trippers go home the exclusive group aboard the Reefworld pontoon enjoy dinner al fresco and stunning sunsets from the top deck. There’s snorkelling (equipment provided) and swimming during the day, an underwater viewing chamber and plenty to learn about the reef. Prices from $525* per person (twin share) for a swag. Departs Hamilton Island Marina, weather and tide dependent.
9. Sail away
Hamilton Island Race Week has been a fixture on the yachty calendar for more than 30 years and it’s an exciting week of competition (17-24 August 2019) that includes some of Australia’s best known super maxis. If that action inspires you to want to set sail, then you can start small on a catamaran in the sheltered waters of the island, taking off from Catseye Beach. Hire can be complimentary for people staying in certain accommodation or cost from $40 (adult) for a half hour or $60* for one-hour and group lessons are $25*. The ultimate way to learn is aboard a Sunsail Sailing School yacht for five days, staying on board overnight, and limited to five people at a time. Less ambitious amphibians can start with anything from a paddleboard to a kayak, or sail as a spectator on a number of daytime or sunset cruises.
10. Spa time
Drift off into dream time at Spa Wumurdaylin where a menu of treatments are designed for ultimate relaxation and indulgence from a head and neck ritual that includes a pressure point massage and a hair masque to restore condition after a day swimming and snorkelling to a collection of massages or the three-hour ‘Seaside Dream’ which includes a mud-wrap, exfoliation and facial.