Hamilton Island is a little piece of paradise in one of the most beautiful corners of Australia. So when we started looking into accommodation options and deals to spend a few days away from the kids, it surprised me how little information you could gather from the official Hamilton Island website. Most things that I know today I learned while we were there, through observation and questions to the staff.
Check out these 10 amazing facts about Hamilton Island which will also give you a pretty good idea about whether this is a great choice for your next Queensland trip.
There is no motorised traffic on Hamilton Island.
Well, not quite. There are still the odd service vehicles and the public and courtesy busses that get people around, but overall the island is free of petrol fumes and loud engine noises.So how do people get around? They hire a golf buggy. The island is laid out for golf buggy use, which means that you will find parking spots that have the specific size to park golf buggies there.
The hire station is conveniently located in a central spot and accepts casual walk-ins as well as long-term bookings. If you are staying in some high-end properties you may have the hire included. You may think that golf buggies are a safe way to get around. Not quite so. Fatalities have been reported, mostly due to inexperienced driving, people letting their children drive, and reckless driving. Driving under the influence might be a problem too, and I am not sure if this is monitored on Hamilton Island at all.
You do need an ordinary driver’s license to hire a buggy though. If you don’t want to hire a golf buggy, don’t despair. You can make use of the public bus that is making its rounds along all the important stops of the island, or you may even have a free courtesy pick-up service provided by your accommodation.
Easy airport transfers
What I really loved about Hamilton Island is that transfers from the airport take around 5 minutes. Jetting in (and out for that matter) has never been easier, and this is what makes Hamilton Island so attractive, even for short trips.
Since the island is served by its very own airport, you don’t need to hop on a ferry to get anywhere. You will be greeted by your accommodation team right after leaving the terminal, and they will even get your suitcases for you, so you don’t need to heave your heavy luggage into the boot of your bus. The whole situation upon arrival is almost surreal: the airport forecourt is just laid out for golf buggies and small busses.
What a different picture to, say, Sydney Airport where you have hotel operators, taxis and private vehicles fighting for space. So it’s safe to say that your holiday begins the second you step out of that plane.
Looking for that special luxury getaway?
If you ever wondered where to find the most exclusive accommodation (maybe you are planning your honeymoon?) – it’s Qualia. How do I know that? Because the owners of Hamilton Island have their own lodgings here, and you can be sure they are picking the best spot for their own needs. The word Qualia means “a collection of deeper sensory experiences”. Sounds nice, eh?
The ultimate luxury awaits you at Qualia’s Beach House which will set you back at least $4,000 a night but it comes with free non-alcoholic drinks and food in the pantry, your own golf buggy, a chauffeur service, use of the spa, gym, sauna and tennis courts and more. To me this sounds like the perfect dream holiday!
Behind the scenes of Hamilton Island
So how does it all work on Hamilton Island? The island is leased from the Queensland government by the winemaking family of Bob Oatley. They own almost everything that you can find on the island, so not just the different accommodation options but also the secondary businesses like restaurants and shops.
Hamilton Island was built specifically for tourism; there was no earlier development on the island. However, don’t expect this to be a Robinson Crusoe island. You can find everything you need here: an airport, medical services, restaurants, shops, supermarkets, bars, a ferry service, and lots more. It’s a bit like a carefully crafted luxurious paradise where every detail is taken care of.
The beauty of this arrangement is also that you can walk into any business to call your courtesy shuttle (if your accommodation provides a courtesy shuttle), and you can also bill all your expenses in all the different businesses to your room which allows for a cash-free holiday.
There’s danger in paradise
Hamilton Island is located in the Great Barrier Reef, an area that is just like Tropical Queensland prone to stinger attacks. Stingers are tiny jellyfish, no bigger than your thumbnail but with tentacles that are up to a metre long. You won’t know you’ve been stung until 30 minutes after the encounter – this is when the pain starts which will eventually send you off to hospital.
Not everybody survives a stinger attack, so be warned. Hospitalisation is the last thing you’d want on your holidays. However, you are relatively safe when you visit Hamilton Island’s main beach because it doesn’t catch the current that circles the island. The odd stinger might end up there but it’s very unlikely as they cannot swim by themselves.
A holiday paradise – or more?
Nobody lives here “for real”. What I mean is that there are no permanent residents on the island, with the exception of some of the staff and the retirees who have bought an apartment or holiday home here.
Primary school aged kids who live on Hamilton Island because their parents found work here can attend mixed classes up until year 6. There are around 60 children attending school on Hamilton Island.
Older kids need to catch the ferry to Airlie Beach every morning to attend the local high school there.
The most beautiful beach in the world
The most beautiful beach in the world is just 45 minutes away. And the most beautiful beach in the world is of course Whitehaven Beach.
If you want to visit this stunning beach you will need to join a cruise, charter a boat, get on a seaplane or fly over with a helicopter. It’s absolutely worth it, as you can see here (check out the video!). Alternatively, there are also other exciting excursions you can do such as diving and snorkelling tours, scenic flights, fishing trips, and dinner cruises.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to holiday here
Hamilton Island offers something for every budget. You don’t need to be super rich or well off to have a great time on Hamilton Island. You can easily find some place to stay that is self-contained and shop all the essentials at the local supermarket.
Or you can opt for picnics with fish and chips by the marina rather than sitting down in a restaurant. There are plenty of things to do without spending top dollars such as bush walks, snorkelling and free entertainment.
A great family-friendly destination
Hamilton Island is suitable for all ages. When we visited we opted for the Beach Club which is an adult-only hotel. Probably the best hotel we ever stayed in, as they managed to anticipate pretty much all our needs before we even started thinking about them.
But there are also plenty of great family friendly options as well family services like a top-notch kids club and childminding service. We are definitely considering returning to Hamilton with the kids one day.
Our most favourite travel tip for Hamilton Island
The best sunset drinking spot is…. drum roll: The Hamilton Island Yacht Club.
Just order some cocktails and some snacks and let the spectacle begin. Unfortunately for us, there were no big colours happening when we were hoping for a glorious sunset, but this doesn’t mean this will happen to you. You can catch some of the most amazing sunsets on the island. Just another reason for us to return to Hamilton Island soon.