48 hours on Hamilton Island
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a Hamilton Island weekend is all about poolside luxe, extended spa days, and cocktail hour every hour.
The truth is, you can have all of that on Hamilton Island, but also so much more. The island’s languid tropical beauty is a mere backdrop for opportunities to explore the natural wonders waiting in the Whitsundays.
Watch the sunrise from a mountaintop, have drinks with giant turtles, or be completely pampered in an island spa. Whatever you’re after, Hamilton Island lets you choose your own adventure.
It’s more than you can get through in just 48 hours, but a weekend retreat is a fine start to getting to know this spectacular little beauty floating off Queensland’s coast.
Here is how to spend a weekend on Hamilton Island and make every moment count:
After stepping off the plane, it pays to get your own transport. For a free run of the island, book a golf buggy for the weekend. The buggy is a perfect size to zip around the island easily and discreetly, and soak up the scenery.
Because you’re in the Whitsundays, a place famous for its crystal waters, you’re going to want a decent view of the reef. And where better than the appropriately-named Reef View Hotel? The big rooms give you space to spread out, and come with a sweeping vantage of Catseye Bay if you opt for the Coral Sea Room. The Reef View Hotel also comes with all the amenities you’d expect of a waterfront hotel, with an in-house restaurant and lounge.
For a tad more privacy, make your way to the Palm Bungalows and you’ll spend your weekend ensconced in the island’s lush tropical bushland. The bungalows themselves are all self-contained units with all the mod cons needed for an easy transition into island living. That said, you’re not completely on your own. Hamilton’s main hub of restaurants and shops is just a few minutes away in the Marina Village.
12PM: DIP AND LUNCH
After dropping your bags, you still need to wash off the journey. Head to the white sands of Catseye Beach for your first dip in the Coral Sea.
Now that you’ve been christened in the azure surf, towel off and take lunch at Popeye’s Fish and Chips nearby. Their classic reef fish and chips will only set you back $13, and goes really well with a couple of their homemade potato scallops. Get it all to go and tuck in beneath the palm trees lining the beach.
2PM: TIME TO EXPLORE
Toss the camera and a bottle of wine into the buggy and roam over the island to get your bearings. Hamilton Island is famous for being hilly so that buggy will be put to good use finding all the best views. Just remember that each buggy only has three hours of worth of juice per tank.
Of course, if you’re in training for the Hamilton Island Hilly Half Marathon, tracking these roads on foot is the best training you could get.
5PM: COCKTAILS AND SUNSETS
When the sun dips low, head to Hamilton’s Bommie Deck, where the cocktail at sundown enjoys a revival.
Located within the Yacht Club, Bommie takes its name from the Aboriginal word ‘bombora’, which describes a shallow area like a reef or sandbank that large waves break over. It’s perfect for a place where people mingle and sip while watching the sun slowly set over the Whitsundays surf. You might even catch sight of a turtle swimming in the waters below the deck if you keep an eye out.
7PM: DINNER AT COCA CHU
Dealing in only the most authentic Asian cuisine, Coca Chu is Hamilton Island’s direct line to South East Asia. All items on the menu are designed to share, and every dish has a perfect balance of flavours.
Seafood laksa, jungle curry, and salt and pepper cuttlefish all go perfectly with Coca Chu’s view of Catseye Beach, but the firm favourite has to be the son-in-law eggs. The crispy, deep-fried eggs originated as a spicy warning from mothers to their sons-in-law. At Coca Chu, they serve theirs with green mango and sweet yellow bean sauce.
6:30AM: CLIMB TIME
After waking up to your lush views, get the blood pumping with an invigorating hike. Hamilton Island’s trails wind down to secluded beaches, summit with ocean views, and are dotted with plenty of picnic spots along the way. Pack breakfast, swimmers, and a camera and head out.
For a private morning swim, the Hideaway Bay track branches off from the Scenic Trail to deliver you to a secluded bay of tranquil waters. A more challenging track is Passage Peak, which rewards its hikers with views from Hamilton Island’s highest peak.
11AM: WHITSUNDAYS BLUE
The Whitsundays are the largest cluster of offshore islands in Australia, comprising 74 separate islands dotted amongst the almost unnatural blue water. Being on the same latitudinal plane as Rio de Janeiro and Tahiti, the conditions are almost always sunny. Perfect for a day on the water.
But you can’t even begin to appreciate the majesty of the region without immersing yourself in it fully. To get the most out of this region, take on a sailing and swimming adventure to Whitehaven Beach, one of the world’s most acclaimed beaches.
Whitehaven is famous for being a picture-perfect stretch of coastline, where just over 7km of sparkling white sand meets the azure water. What makes the waters of the Whitsundays so captivating is their particular shade of blue. It’s caused by light reflecting off fine particles of siliceous sediment suspended in the water. This marine phenomenon doesn’t occur anywhere else in the world, and geologists are stumped as to where the siliceous sand comes from.
4:30PM: AFTERNOON ACTIVITIES
Back on the island, stop by the Hamilton Island Beach Sports to grab a complimentary board. This is free for in-house guests which means there are no excuses to go stand-up paddle-boarding around the Bay just before sundown. The water around Catseye Beach is generally calm, and paddlers have been known to spot turtles from time to time.
Make the most of your last night on Hamilton with a final feast at TAKO. This is the island’s treasured spot for authentic Mexican. While tacos might be the first thing to entice you there, there’s so much more to the menu.
Using only the freshest local produce, TAKO’s kitchen team can satisfy even the pickiest diners with a blend of playful and more traditional dishes. Start with some fresh ceviche and grilled prawn tostadas before moving onto fried chicken tacos and chilli cheese fries. Just be sure to save room for cinnamon churros with dulce de leche at the end.
9AM: A PARTING GIFT
Before jetting out of Hamilton, spend some quality time checking back in with your own body.
Spa Wumurdaylin is a haven tucked in beside Hamilton’s Beach Club, and the ideal place to spend your last morning. The 60-minute signature massage is the best departure present to give yourself, especially after enjoying such a packed schedule. The massage therapists will ensure that you leave the island feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
When you’re ready to explore the rest of the island, Hamilton will welcome you back soon.