My mom and dad hadn’t been to Australia in 6 years. Ugh, life; it’s full of twists and turns and we couldn’t work out timing. We made it happen this year (a month-long visit!) and we knew that Hammo would be on our itinerary. It’s an easy, accessible, laid back place to be. The four of us spent a week and there was something for everyone.
Hamilton is a private island in the Whitsundays group located in the Great Barrier Reef. A commercial airport serves visitors with direct flights from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Cairnes, and offers connections from most major cities in Australia. Make no mistake, this is an island built for play. Annual visitors top 80,000 yet it never feels crowded. Australian Traveller magazine named it Australia’s Most Desirable Escape in 2015, and the awards rack up every year for hospitality and luxury. With island transportation limited to golf carts only, it won’t intimidate those who aren’t so comfortable driving on the left. Our accommodation came with two included, but they can easily be hired on the island.
After a storied history including fires and receivership, Hammo was purchased by Robert Oatley and family in 2003. With uber-successful forays into wine and yachting (he was the owner of the nine-time winner of Sydney to Hobart craft, Wild Oats XI) it seems Bob and Co. knew just what to do in shining the light on this jewel.
Where to stay?
Accommodations are many, but for those seeking childfree ambiance, the four-star boutique-style Beach Club is a superb option. The islands’ sole 18 and over resort, it’s situated front and center on the coral sea-facing Catseye Beach. (TIP: Swim to the buoys and you’ll likely find sea turtles munching on kelp) Stumble out of your room to the posh beach chairs and hammocks that were made for snoozing. The infinity pool is quiet and blissfully splashfree, so you can finally finish War and Peace…..in peace. If your budget is bigger, or your occasion more special, you can’t go past qualia. Indulgent villas are private and perfect for couples, and the secluded location on the northern tip of the island means that the chauffered service offered to guests is a handy amenity. Those staying with qualia are met at the airport and whisked away to begin their holiday stress-free with someone else to handle the drudgery of baggage and driving it’s 5-star service all the way. If neither of the above sound like your
cup of tea frosty pina colada, renting through a private owner can be a smart option. The island has a relative multitude of condos, apartments, and homes for rent. We enjoy this because we like more space, and full disclosure, I want to eat as much seafood as humanly possible. It’s one of the few things I enjoy cooking, and with Fishi supplying it flipping-fresh, I need a fridge and a kitchen. We also don’t like to eat out every single meal, so we hit the IGA and the adjoining wine shop on the regular. One caveat to this type of home is that you may be somewhat limited as to the location in terms of direct beach access and the best places are booked up well in advance.
What to do?
It’s actually a question of what’s NOT to do? The water here is crystal clear and the blue of your dreams. Summer is traditionally stinger season so best be aware of that though we’ve never had a problem. Watersports reign: Boating, snorkeling, Hobie catting, sea kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, scuba diving, kitesurfing, jetskiing, even fishing. Hikes are plentiful and varied, from the easy to the more difficult and there is always a jogger to be spotted on the smoothly paved roads. You’ll stay entertained even if you never leave the island, but there are also excursions galore, which run the gamut in price and time commitment. I highly recommend a trip out to Whitehaven and Hill Inlet. This is a half-day excursion and though you can choose to go by boat, helicopter or seaplane, the boat option gives you the feel of the wind and the salt, and the catamaran is a fun little adventure in itself. My favorite thing to do on Hammo besides pleasure drive the golf carts at night is to visit One Tree Hill. Since we aren’t early birds, we choose to grab the views at sunset, drinks in hand. (I hear the sunrise is nice too.) It’s IMPOSSIBLE to take a bad photo here. The sky is orange and purple and when you see it you remember how gorgeous the world really is. There is a bar where you can purchase snacks and cocktails, but why not bring your own? It’s an occasion that calls for Aperol Spritzes or Moscow Mules, IMO, so pack up a basket and a cooler and up the hill with a blanket. Stay awhile and enjoy the breeze and the tunes- Tessa Devine was playing when we went and she was perfection.
When’s the last time you were on Hamilton Island? Do you prefer staying in hotels or in private accommodations?