Hamilton Island

The Ultimate Guide toHamilton Island

Mention the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island is the first place that comes to mind – and rightly so. It’s the most recognisable and accessible island in the archipelago of 74 sand and coral cays that scream “Queensland” and “Australia” to travellers the world over.

Hamilton is one of four resort islands in the Whitsundays section of the Great Barrier Reef, and everyone, from Australia’s favourite celebrities to sun-loving families and loved-up couples, holiday here. Some go for the fairy-floss sunsets over the Coral Sea, others for the aquamarine water promising fantastic underwater adventures, and more still for the resort culture and day-spa pampering.

Picture a verdant green island with white beaches, hidden coves, a harbour speckled with the white yachts of the uber-rich, and, of course, plenty of towering palms. Add restaurants, pools, a quaint chapel, surrounding reef and an Aussie icon – the sulphur-crested cockatoo – and Hamilton is what island dreams are made of. So, what are you waiting for?

How to get to Hamilton Island

It’s easy and affordable to get to the island, with travellers able to fly direct to Hamilton Island Airport or to Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine Airport) on the mainland. If you opt for the latter, you can then sail or take a ferry to the island from Airlie Beach, the main town in the Whitsundays. Alternatively, you can drive to Airlie or hop aboard one of numerous coach services that ply Australia’s East Coast, or even take a chopper to make an extra special entrance (brides, take note). Once on Hamilton Island, you’ll want to hire a golf buggy for when you’re too chilled out to walk.

Hamilton Island Accommodation

A magnet for the rich and famous, Hamilton Island is renowned for its luxury accommodation. The jewel in the island’s crown is qualia, which has won multiple awards for its sophisticated style and exquisite dining venues, while the adults-only Beach Club also has a strong following. Despite the island’s celebrity appeal, it’s very much a family-friendly destination, and there are a handful of other properties that cater to the youngest of guests.

Hotels and resorts

But let’s talk luxury first. There’s no doubt qualia steals the limelight when it comes to Hamilton Island accommodation, and with its beautiful pavilions and private pools, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re after the ultimate Whitsundays escape – perhaps a honeymoon – you’ll want to bed down here.

High up on the northern tip of the island, you’re away from the marina and beach hubbub, with the 60 pavilions privy to views of the turquoise sea or verdant bushland. There are two restaurants to dine in, Pebble Beach and the Long Pavilion, the latter of which has a communal pool and is an inviting place to while away an afternoon reading a book.

If you’re craving a holiday without the rug rats, or you don’t want to be surrounded by everyone else’s, Beach Club Hamilton Island is a great option. This adults-only oasis is smack-bang on Catseye Beach and is perfect for romantic escapes, with a private restaurant and lounge.

A mid-range option is Reef View Hotel, which has long been a favourite of families, largely due to its affordability, views, pool and relaxed restaurant.


If you want to feel like you live on the island then the best place to stay is in one of the numerous rental apartments. Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas are modern, multi-tiered holiday homes on the hillside above the marina. The villas are self-contained and have four bedrooms, four bathrooms and access to a pool complex. There are several other apartments available for hire across the island, and they range in size, sleeping anywhere from four to 14 people.


Nestled within tropical gardens, away from the hubbub of the marina, are Palm Bungalows. A short walk from Catseye Beach, the bungalows are for holidaymakers who enjoy a mix of dining out and self-catering. Each bungalow has recently undergone a facelift and is modern, private and quiet.

Family Holidays on Hamilton Island

For a destination that ticks all the family boxes, Hamilton Island nails it. There’s sand, sun, snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding and sailing, as well as a plethora of adrenaline-inducing activities such as quad biking, parasailing and jet-skiing. On top of all that, the kids will have a ball playing glow-in-the-dark mini golf and bowling, and meeting native animals, including an island croc, at WILD LIFE Hamilton Island.

Best Things to do on Hamilton Island

On the water sailing, snorkeling, fishing and kayaking

The Whitsundays are a sailor’s playground, with expert yachtsmen mixing with holiday novices on the water. One of the major ports of call on itineraries is Hamilton Island, with its top-notch marina and prestigious sailing club. Visit Hamilton while chartering a sailing boat or catamaran from Airlie Beach or enjoy a responsibility-free day cruise from the island itself.

If you like to mingle with the ‘it’ crowd, time your visit with Hamilton Island Race Week, a celebrity-infused seven days of on- and off-shore events every August. Island guests can also hire mini catamarans or join a group or private lesson from Catseye Beach.

If you’re into fishing, there are a handful of ways to scratch your angling itch. You can go it alone by hiring a dinghy from Hamilton Island Tour Desk, and you can grab bait and tackle from the marina. Alternatively, you can join a half- or full-day tour with a company such as Renegade Fishing Charters. The professional guides will take you to the Whitsundays’ best reefs and waterways, and give you plenty of tips to improve your fishing game.


One of Australia’s most scenic golf courses is a short hop across the water on Dent Island. Whether you’re an experienced golfer or simply enjoy a swing on holiday, you’re bound to be impressed by this par 71, 18-hole championship course. If you’re not, well the views will win you over anyway.

After a game, drop into Hamilton Island Golf Club for a long lunch. Hamilton Island also caters for golfers with a family-friendly driving range where you’re encouraged to hit balls into a lake, and there’s a pitch and putt course too. To get the kids interested in the sport, head along to the mini golf course, which glows in the dark every night.

Spa and Relax

One of Hamilton’s biggest drawcards is its idyllic lifestyle, yet this Whitsundays gem promises a relaxing holiday that goes beyond beach cabanas and poolside cocktails. The island’s day spas have serious credentials and you’ll want to book at least one treatment during your stay.

Spa qualia is a tropical sanctuary you’ll find hard to leave, especially after indulging in one of the signature experiences (think mud wraps and mineral facials) or well-being therapies.

For non-qualia guests, there is Spa wumurdaylin, where you can enjoy body scrubs, massages and the like.

If you’re visiting for a wedding or want to get dolled up for a romantic night out, there is also Island Hair and Beauty for all your pampering needs.

Day Trips

No trip to Hamilton Island is complete without dipping your head below the water’s surface to discover myriad reef fish and coral. You don’t need to pack your snorkel, mask or flippers, either. Join a snorkelling tour to Hamilton’s neighbouring islands and beaches, including famous Whitehaven Beach, a seven-kilometre stretch of white silica on Whitsunday Island. This slice of paradise is the quintessential Aussie destination that wows everyone who visits, and you can get there aboard half- or full-day charters, or via yacht or seaplane. Hamilton Island is also the perfect launching point for scuba diving tours, sunset cruises, fishing charters, and scenic flights over the reef. Find our pick of the best day trips from Hamilton Island here. Your biggest problem will be trying to squeeze everything in, so we will help you prioritise with our pick of the top things to do on Hamilton Island here.

Where to eat on Hamilton Island

From casual eateries and takeaway shops to cocktail bars and high-end restaurants, Hamilton Island has plenty of dining choices. Families will love grabbing a bite at low-key Manta Ray, which has great water views and a kids-eat-free deal, while you can’t go past Mariners for fresh, local seafood. If you’re after somewhere exclusive, you’ll want to book a table for lunch at Pebble Beach or Long Pavilion, but you’ll need to be a qualia guest and both venues are off-limits for children aged under 16. At the other end of the scale, travellers staying in self-contained accommodation can stock their pantries at Hamilton Island IGA Supermarket at Marina Village, where they’ll also find a bakery and ice-cream parlour.

Best time to visit Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island weather is idyllic most of the year, however winter (June-August) is an especially great time to visit as you won’t need to worry about doonas and woollen socks. Daytime temperatures average 24 degrees Celsius, while at night you won’t need much more than a cardigan. If you love sailing, you’ll want to arrive around August, when skies are clear and there’s a decent breeze.

For those seeking peace and quiet, consider visiting during the off-season, from January to March, although pack an umbrella in preparation for tropical showers.

Hamilton Island Tours and Packages

If you want to leave planning your Hamilton Island getaway in the hands of experts, there are several packages to choose from. Hotels and tour companies team up to offer visitors accommodation, activity and meal packages that cater to various holiday styles and budgets. It’s common for hotels and other Hamilton Island accommodation providers to share facilities, such as pools, and to work together to provide kids-stay-and-eat-free packages. You’ll also find you can book tours direct through your hotel, with Hamilton Island Tour Desk and via companies on the mainland in Airlie Beach.