This tourist hub of islands is the starting point for planning any island getaway. From luxury to family-friendly – it’s got it all.
The tourist hub of the islands, Hamilton (www.hamiltonisland.com.au) isn’t only a complete resort island, it’s also a residential community. It’s somewhat different from the rest, as the entire island is managed by the Oatley family on perpetual leasehold agreements who have spent an unbelievable amount of money since they acquired the island overhauling the tired infrastructure they purchased.
Stunning private residences, many available for rent, clamber for ocean views up the hillsides, creating a mix of holidaymakers amid a permanent population of around 1000 locals.
On Front Street you’ll find some essentials (bank, supermarket, post office, bar, cafes), while nearby are a medical centre, primary school and commercial airport serviced by Virgin Blue, Qantas and Jetstar. Regular scheduled flights contribute hugely to the island’s position as a prominent Whitsundays destination. It’s an indulgent convenience that enables guests to check in within minutes of stepping off the plane. The lure of discount airfares is offset somewhat by the crush of mass tourism here, particularly during school holidays.
Set among native eucalypts, each of qualia’s one-bedroom pavilions has been handcrafted from the finest timber and stone.
Pesky Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos continue to terrify guests as they chomp through flywire screens into guest rooms. Walkers exploring the untouched bush to the east of the challenging Passage Peak trail are rewarded with outstanding views across the islands. The Hamilton Island Safari Tour, which takes guests in open-sided 4WDs overland to Driftwood Bay, is a great diversion. Dinner of King Island steak and prawns is served around the campfire, and beneath the stars the evening livens up when the didgeridoo and guitars come out.
Five star qualia is simply outstanding (www.qualia.com.au). Made up of 60 freestanding, generously sized bungalows, it oozes charming indulgence. Set among native eucalypts, each one-bedroom pavilion has been handcrafted from the finest timber and stone. Windward pavilions have private plunge pools with views to Fitzalan Passage and Whitsunday Island, while Leeward pavilions have sundecks that peek through trees towards Dent Island. Its high tariffs include all meals and an electric two-seater buggy.
The long-awaited Hamilton Island Yacht Club opened in time for the 2009 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week. Across Dent Passage, the Dent Island Golf Course (par 71, designed by British Open legend Peter Thompson) promises sweeping views across the islands from all 18 holes . Access is by boat from Hamilton Island marina.
Getting There: Ferry transfers from Shute Harbour and domestic air flights from major Australian cities.