After five days in the city, we were ready to fly to beautiful Queensland. We decided to stay on Hamilton Island, one of the 74 tropical islands at the heart of the Whitsundays. The island is situated between the Queensland coast and the Great Barrier Reef, making it the perfect base for exploring the surrounding areas. Even though it’s the largest of the inhabited Whitsundsay islands, it’s less than 2 square miles in area.
Since Hamilton island is in a remote area, the options for direct flights there are limited. As we found out during our planning stages, there was only one flight in and out per day on each major airline. The flight usually connects through Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, or Cairns. It’s best to book the flights as soon as possible to ensure availability. On the morning of our 6th day in Australia, we said goodbye to Sydney, got on our little airplane, and headed to paradise.
When we landed on the sleepy little island, at an airport that was nothing more than a landing strip, we were greeted by a representative of the complex where we were staying. He drove us around the island on a tour that ended at our apartment, at the top of a hill. There are a lot of options when it comes to deciding where to stay on the island. Aside from resorts, there are also apartments for rent. For our stay, we rented the Shorelines 13 apartment for 4 days. Walking through the door we were greeted by the amazing view of the ocean. The split level apartment was spacious and modern with a large kitchen, living room, and a walk out balcony that looks out to the stunning view. The bedrooms in the lower levels, also have walk out balconies where you can curl up with a good book.
The apartment has a lot of amenities that make it feel like a home away from home. The kitchen is fully equipped with cutlery, dishes, pots, and pans, making it easy for us to buy food and cook at home (more on that later). There is also a small barbecue out on the balcony – because how can you be in Australia without throwing some shrimp on the barbie? We were ecstatic to find a washer and dryer, which we put to good use after a week of dirty laundry. The best part though, is that we got our very own golf buggy to use for the duration of our stay. It made getting around the island very easy.
On Hamilton Island you have the usual amenities you’d expect when staying at a resort, but the unique part of this place is that the whole island is your playground. There are lots of things to do, depending on how active you want to be. You can go snorkeling out on the reef or sit quietly with a book by the pool. You can go para-sailing, or spend the day diving the Great Barrier Reef. You can even go hiking to a deserted beach. We had the whole beach to ourselves and stayed there until the tide came in and the sun started to set over the hill. When you are here anything seems possible, that is, unless you get rained in.
For four days, we succumbed to the island life with a laid back routine. We would wake up and grab a quick breakfast before taking our buggy out for a spin. Usually our drive would take us down to the Marina or over to the resort where we would spend a few hours at the beach. After the morning swim, we headed home for some lunch before heading back out to explore the island further. Along the harbor, there are restaurants, a liquor store, and gift shops. Basically anything you need to make the stay enjoyable. Our afternoon was usually spent lounging by the infinity pool overlooking the water. After our action-packed tour of Sydney, we were not keen on doing too much.
The best part about living on a small island is the proximity to all the fresh seafood. To save money and add more flexibility to our food options, we decided to mostly eat in. We planned ahead and ordered our groceries from Coles and arranged for the delivery on the day of arrival. There is a general store on the island where we could get anything else that we needed. As for seafood, my sister found Fishi, a local family run business located right on the island. They certainly deliver on their motto of “supplying the finest local Australian wild caught seafood fresh to your door.” Their extensive selection of raw and prepared seafood is fresh and at reasonable price. We went a little bit overboard and ordered squid, prawns, bugs, mud crabs, scallops, and barramundi. All the amazing food was delivered promptly and with a smile. We ate well all four days and only spent about $175 AUD per person in total.
It’s not hard to imagine why people want to live in this idyllic place. The relaxed lifestyle and beautiful setting make this the ideal place. Everyone on the island is always happy and cheerful. One time our buggy stalled going up a steep hill, and people stopped to help us figure out the problem. That’s what people do here, whether you’re a local or tourist, everyone looks out for each other. I have always imagined myself retiring to a beach somewhere, and after spending a few days here, I want to call this tropical paradise my home.
Apartment: Shoreline 13 – $400 AUD per night
Flight: Quantas Link – $150 pp, one way
Food: $175 AUD pp for 4 days