If you are looking for a family holiday that offers relaxation and adventure then Hamilton Island might be the destination you are looking for. An absolutely beautiful setting in the Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia, Hamilton Island offers an extremely relaxing island getaway but with so many activities available for kids and adults it will meet the demands of every member of your family. Here are some of the reasons why you should head to the Whitsundays with kids.
Hamilton Island is set in the beautiful Whitsundays on the Great Barrier Reef on Australia’s north east coast. It is a fairly large island with two main parts. One is the marina side which houses most of the privately owned holiday units/houses, the marina (home to some of the most amazing boats), the yacht club and a lot of the island’s restaurants and shops. The other side of the island is the beach side which is home to the island resorts and pools (including Reef View Hotel, Beach Club and the Palm Bungalows).
This is the ultimate waterfront destination where you can choose to simply lie by the pool or beach and read a book or you can take part in many of the great outdoor activities on offer.
What sets Hamilton Island apart from other Whitsunday islands is the large variety of things to do and places to stay. For kids there are an endless amount of activities including the pools, beach, water activities, quad bikes, nine pin bowling, sailing and more. For adults you have the option just to lie by the pool or take part in golf, bushwalking, sailing, art classes, visiting the day spa, choosing from one of many restaurants and bars and so much more. This really is an all-inclusive family holiday destination.
Catseye Beach is the main beach. They offer a range of activities here including paddle skis, catamarans, windsurfing and snorkelling. Some accommodations include the hire of this equipment in their prices and some don’t, so check when you book. [For family beach safety tips, see the suitcases&strollers interview with the team from Bondi Rescue here.]
If you don’t like the sand, Hamilton Island Resort has many lagoon-style resort pools that all guests staying on the island can use (even if you are not staying in the resort proper). Most private houses also have their own private pools. For instance, Shorelines has an infinity pool which is fabulous.
Hiring a motorised dinghy is a fantastic activity to do with the kids. These small boats don’t need a boat licence and allow you to head out and explore some of the smaller islands close to Hamilton Island, do some fishing and check out some new beaches and rock pools. It is good value too, around AU$120 for 4 hours including petrol, fishing gear and life jackets. They can be hired from the Hamilton Island Marina.
A trip out to Whitehaven Beach is a must when you go to Hamilton Island. The beaches here are pristine white and the water is so clear. Whitehaven Beach is a beach with sand so pure and white it’s 98% pure silica. Plus, this little piece of heaven stretches for seven empty kilometres.
Regularly voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Whitehaven Beach is on the east coast of the uninhabited island, an easy day trip from Hamilton Island. You can travel there by boat or sea plane.
Another great activity with the kids is breakfast at the Hamilton Island Wildlife Park where you can have breakfast with the koalas. The tables are positioned around koalas munching leaves and sleeping in the trees which the kids will love.
Quad bikes are perfect for kids (and the young at heart). Quad Bike Adventures For Kids is made up of a 15-minute session on a dirt quad bike track for children aged 6 to 14. Although this might not seem like much time, it is plenty and the kids will have a ball. There are also adult quad biking sessions too.
For an experience to remember, the Fly and Cruise to Reefworld helicopter tour is a fantastic activity. Reefworld is a pontoon that sits above the famous and colourful Hardy Reef. It includes a 2-and-a-half-hour cruise from Hamilton Island to Reefworld,buffet lunch, snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef (in a roped section so the kids feel safe), underwater viewing chamber, semi-submersible submarine and then a return flight by helicopter (20 minute trip back) right over the spectacular reef – an amazing experience.
Hamilton Island also has a 9-pin bowling alley which is a great, fun activity for kids. It is perfect to head to in the evening or in wet weather.
For parents that want a bit of relaxation there are two day spas on the island. Hamilton Island Resort has Spa Wumurdaylin or if you really want to splurge then try Spa Qualia at Hamilton Island’s luxury resort. Qualia is set in a very private sanctuary with a relaxation area, steam room, tropical outdoor shower and a meditation pavilion.
There are loads of dining options at Hamilton Island with all types of food available including seafood, Asian, Italian, a steakhouse and more. For dining out with kids the Manta Ray Café is great for pizzas (eat in or take away), the Marina Tavern pub does great steaks and an old favourite is takeaway fish and chips from Popeyes. For parents-only dining the Beach Club is superb.
If you stay in a holiday home/unit you will have a full kitchen so can cook your own meals which is handy if you have tired kids who have been swimming all day. Coles supermarket deliver daily to the island making it easy to get groceries and there is a small convenience store and bottle shop for alcohol on the island.
The weather is beautiful on Hamilton Island all year round, with the best times to visit either autumn or spring when it’s not too hot yet warm enough to swim day and night.
The only thing to be wary of is the marine stingers in the open water. They are more prevalent in the warmer months (November to March); just remember to always swim between the flags and where lifeguards are present.
Hamilton Island is a really easy to get to with direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. The island is easy to get around too either by walking or on electric buggies. There are buggy tracks all over the Island and, for the kids, travelling around on the back of the buggy might nearly be the highlight of the trip.
Some accommodation options include the use of an electric buggy whilst staying on the island. For those that don’t they can also be hired from Hamilton Island Buggy Rental by the hour, day or overnight.
There are lots of accommodation options on Hamilton Island including hotel/resort style accommodation at including Reef View Hotel, Beach Club and the 6-star Qualia. Most are good quality and quite spacious (for a hotel room).
The other option for accommodation (which is good if travelling with kids) is staying in a privately owned, self-contained holiday unit/townhouse/house. The benefit of a self-contained house/unit versus one of the hotels is they are fully self-contained with full kitchen and laundry facilities which is particularly handy if you have children.
Being able to cook all meals in your accommodation makes it a lot easier when travelling with kids, especially after a full day of swimming and activities, when the kids are tired and no one wants to sit in a restaurant. Plus, self-contained accommodation tends to have more room for everyone to move.
Shorelines is one of the self-contained townhouses and comes extremely highly recommended.
Shorelines is a set of luxury 2-bedroom townhouses which have the most amazing views of the water from every room. The apartments come with a great kitchen and laundry facilities (including clothesline). Upstairs (the level you enter on) has a kitchen, dining room, good sized lounge and a great deck overlooking the water. One level down is the kid’s bedroom and bathroom, and then another level down again is the main bedroom and ensuite with another deck. The furniture and fittings in these apartments are very modern and of very high quality and there is loads of space for 2 adults and 3 kids. The apartment comes with an electric buggy which the kids will love and will enable you to get around the island easily.
Shorelines has two pools – the infinity pool is simply beautiful and feels like you are sitting in the ocean. It also comes with a little waterfall the kids can sit under. These pools can be used by all guests of Shorelines and are fully fenced. A littletip: ask for apartments 1 or 4 which are on the ends, that way one side of your apartment is open at the front and the side (not just at the front).
The official Hamilton Island website has a very comprehensive list of accommodation options to give you a sense of what’s
For more travel tips on things to do in Far North Queensland with kids, see the suitcases&strollers interview with tennis legend Pat Rafter here.
By Donna Fingland of Haggus & Stookles; Images: Queensland Tourism & Events