The astounding beauty of the Great Barrier Reef is a must-see on any Australian visit, and the best place to explore this natural wonder is from the jewel in its crown, Hamilton Island.


In partnership with Hamilton Island

Who doesn’t dream of a blue-sky escape to a sand-fringed island of tropical warmth, where palm trees wave and sunsets turn a sapphire sea pink just in time for cocktails? Welcome to Hamilton Island, a green getaway in a big blue ocean, where time seems to slow down and urban stress peels away to the sound of wind in sails and the popping of a champagne cork.

Hamilton Island is part of the Whitsundays, an archipelago of 74 islands flung like a jewelled necklace across the azure Coral Sea at the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef. Here you can have your castaway moment without Robinson Crusoe sacrifice. Private resort qualia on the northern tip of Hamilton Island is designed with luxury and relaxation in mind, and is a unique expression of Australian hospitality. The resort’s spectacular and tranquil setting is complemented by world-class facilities, fine dining and attentive service.

Pebble Beach Pool at Qualia

Private resort qualia is designed with luxury and relaxation in mind.

Hamilton Island is the only Whitsunday island with a domestic commercial airport, serviced by short direct flights from Australia’s international gateway cities Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, which makes qualia the perfect place to recover from jetlag, enjoy downtime in the middle of your travels, or unwind before your journey home.

This stunning destination isn’t just about pampering but about outstanding experiences in one of Australia’s most beautiful locations. Your only difficulty will be deciding whether to explore by land, sea or sky – though you can solve that dilemma by doing all three. Walk secluded beaches where turtles nest, snorkel among corals and kaleidoscopic fish, and take to a scenic flight to appreciate the stunning marine landscape from above.

Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays

Take to a scenic flight to iconic Whitehaven Beach. (Image: @saltywings)

Allow us to inspire you with this itinerary that reveals why Hamilton Island is the best base from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef.

Day One

Hamilton Island Airport is so small, you’ll be off the plan and in your pavilion at qualia in no time. You’ll want to stretch your travel legs and enjoy some fresh salty air so, after settling in, set out for a walk. The luxury resort is set in tropical bushland, and tracks across the rest of the island flaunt magnificent ocean views. If you’re up for it, the highest point is Passage Peak, though best saved for early morning when the sun rises over an orange sea.

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Plunge pool, qualia pavilion, Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

A qualia Windward pavilion complete with private plunge pool

Restorative relaxation at the qualia spa might also call. Its signature Essence experience begins with warm stone foot therapy and is followed by a full-body massage, eye treatment and pressure-point scalp therapy. Then enjoy the tasting menu at Pebble Beach, qualia’s fine-dining seashore restaurant, which showcases top Australian seasonal and sustainable produce; seafood is hand-caught locally and greens come from qualia’s kitchen garden.

Entrance to the qualia Spa

Indulge in restorative relaxation at the qualia spa.

Day Two

Start your adventures with a bird’s eye view over the Whitsundays that you’re sure to remember for a very long time. A discovery helicopter tour straight from qualia’s helipad takes you to landmarks such as Whitehaven Beach, where blue water swirls with blinding white sand like an abstract painting, and iconic Heart Reef, which lies in shallow water that shimmers with every peacock colour from turquoise to neon blue.

Aerial view of Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven is a regular on lists of the world’s best beaches (Image: Ken Butti)

Choose a tour where your helicopter touches down on the private Heart Island pontoon helipad, or alternatively on Whitehaven Beach so you can take a dip into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Whitehaven is a regular on lists of the world’s best beaches: impossibly blue sea fizzes on sand as powdery as icing sugar.

Heart Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Drone shot

A visit to the breathtaking Heart Island is always a good idea. (Image: @saltywings)

Day Three

By now you’ll be eager to truly plunge into the Great Barrier Reef. An amazing full-day adventure to the outer reef on Reef Explorer isn’t to be missed. Divers can immerse themselves directly from the vessel’s diving platform, and even snorkelers can enjoy a stunning underwater spectacle. Angelfish drift past with pouting yellow lips, damsel fish shimmer in blue and marigold, and you may spot the occasional turtle, octopus or manta ray.

Pleasantly tired by a day of glorious sea and sun, you can enjoy your evening meal at qualia’s relaxed-dining Long Pavilion restaurant: just the place for a Negroni or Manhattan followed by pan-roasted scallops, roasted duck breast or fresh snapper.

Woman carrying drinks at the Long Pavillon Restaurant

Have a relaxed-dining experience at the Long Pavilion restaurant.

Day Four

You can do as much or as little as you like at qualia. Get dropped off with a gourmet picnic at a secluded beach. Head to Pebble Beach for water sports such as stand-up paddle-boarding and kayaking. Cruise surrounding islands aboard one of the many catamarans or boats available for private or group tours. If you haven’t been up close with Aussie animals, Hamilton Island Wildlife provides encounters with koalas, kangaroos and cockatoos.

Hamilton Island Golf Club on nearby Dent Island has an 18-hole, par 71 championship course designed by five-time British Open winner Peter Thomson. Golfers love the challenge of the island’s ridges and valleys, dense bushland and buffeting winds, and the scenery is spectacular.

Hamilton Island Golf Club, Dent Island, Whitsunday Islands

The Peter Thomson (5 times British Open winner) designed Hamilton Island Golf Course navigates the deep valleys and ridge lines of Dent Island with spectacular views of the surrounding Whitsunday Islands.

Meanwhile, qualia’s luxury skippered motor cruiser Palm Beach can be privately chartered for half and full days, opening up many more possibilities for exploration. On your final evening, appreciate yet another of the Whitsundays’ famous sunsets on board this exquisite vessel as you enjoy canapés and wine. The seascape explodes in glorious Technicolour in a fitting farewell to this most beautiful of destinations.

qualia private boat MV Palm Beach, Whitsunday Islands

qualia’s MV Palm Beach, a 55 ft motor boat for the private use of qualia guests, opens up many more possibilities for exploration.

For more information, visit qualia.com.au

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