Travel diary: Our Hamilton Island getaway

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Last week we jetted off to Hamilton Island for three days as a family. I’d been to Hamilton Island before, but never past the jetty right near the airport, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. About a decade ago, when Hubby and I went to Daydream Island, we were told that it was a bit tired, so I went in not really knowing what to expect.

A little back story to the island, because once I started exploring Hamilton Island I just had to know what sort of person could possibly own such an island… that person {or persons} is Robert Oatley {with his son Sandy as the current chairman of the island}. They bought it for $200 million 10 years ago this year, and have been doing it up bit by bit ever since {spending $300 million to date}.

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MONDAY

I’ve learnt with kids and traveling that it’s all about timing. Our flight was at 12 noon, so we planned to start driving to the airport {an hour drive} right on Luella’s sleep so that she was all sorted for the flight. My plan worked and we were on our way. We parked in long-term parking {$88 for 3 days} and checked-in. I still have not mastered the art of packing and my bag was overweight, and yes we were going for just 3 days. When will I learn?

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We arrived in sunny Hamilton Island after a loooooong flight. Well, time-wise it was short {1 hour and 25 minutes} but in anxiety it was long. I’m sure that I care more about the noise my kids make than other passengers, and they were so well behaved but I always feel like breaking out in song and dance when the plane hits the tarmac.

TIP: Be sure to grab a window seat when flying to Hamilton Island. The blue of that water as seen from the sky just shouldn’t be missed.

This was my third time landing in Hamilton Island, and that feeling is still the same. You feel like you’re on holidays as soon as you get out of the plane; all that ocean, fresh air, sunshine and palm trees.

We were transferred to our accommodation at the Reef View Hotel. A cockatoo greeted us upon arriving at our room.

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Of all the places I’ve stayed over the years, the Reef View Hotel isn’t the fanciest, but I think it’s currently being done up as they were re-tiling the foyer. It was really clean and perfect for my little family {because you know sometimes fancy is stressful with all the possible things they can break?}. And it had the best view of anywhere I’ve ever stayed. Seriously, how hard is this to look at everyday?

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There are no cars on the island, instead people get around in golf buggies {well, there are small buses to transport visitors, and builders do have utes to work on, but that’s it}. We picked up a buggy and headed out to explore. Lacey and Luella loved that there were no car seats, and it felt safe seeing as the speed limit on the island is only 20km/ph. I found if I strapped Luella into the baby carrier on me, and then put the seat belt over us… it was easier to manage her wriggling.

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We headed to Romano’s for an early dinner. It’s located on the water down at the marina, and we parked our buggy right outside. We were full from having a late lunch {pies for the Hamilton Island bakery}, so we ordered mains and a glass of wine each. Lacey had spaghetti bolognese from the kids menu and Luella had fish. The food was beautiful, and the service impeccable. It’s fancy, but kids are well looked after.

Ice cream was included in the kids meal, as well as a soft drink but we decided to head out and explore the ice cream parlour because Luella was ready for a sleep and not wanting to sit still. Kids can stay and eat free at some restaurants on Hamilton Island, which is handy when you don’t want to blow the budget. I was given the tip to make as much use of the bakery as possible, because it does good food. You can grab delicious looking sandwiches and loaves of bread. Plus there’s a small supermarket where you can buy meat etc and you can cook it at one of the BBQs near the beach.

TIP: Book at your restaurant of choice as soon as you arrive on the island, or even before you head off on your trip. The restaurants were booked out very quickly. You can do it online.

We then headed back to the room for an early night.

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TUESDAY

We woke early, and had breakfast. When staying at the Reef View Hotel you have three options for breakfast: Buffet at the hotel, breakfast at Sails in the main resort centre or breakfast with the koalas at Wildlife Hamilton. We decided to have the buffet as we were short on time. It was perfection.

We then headed down to the marina and hopped on our boat ready for a morning at Whitehaven Beach.

LULU + LACEY

I visited Whitehaven Beach last year and fell head over heels in love with it. The sand contains 98% silica which makes it really white. It also makes it really good for shining up your diamonds rings.

When I visited last year we were taken to the north end of Whitehaven Beach, which for some reason seemed more pretty to me than the south end. I think it had more sand or something. But still, if I hadn’t know the north end existed I wouldn’t have been disappointed at all. It’s a stunning piece of the world and I was so excited to share with Shane, Lacey and Luella.

We had two hours on the island, so we dug sandcastles, Luella tasted some sand {ick!}, and Hubby chased after fish. The water was a bit chilly for me {such a fusspot when it comes to water temperatures!} but everyone else was happy swimming. Last year when we traveled in June the water was perfectly warm, like bath water, so we were visiting at the coolest part of the year this time.

The cruise is a half day affair with Whitsunday Cruises. It costs $99 for adults, and $49 for kids aged 4-14. Morning tea is included on the boat on the return trip. They also provide lots of water toys and sand toys for kids when you’re on the beach.

TIP: Wear your cossies/swimmers there, underneath your clothes as there is no where to get changed. I probably would have braved the water if I’d been wearing cossies. Rookie error!

Once we returned to the island we grabbed some fish and chips for Popeyes for lunch, and headed back to our room for a short break. At low tide the beach is the perfect place to stroll out, and explore in the sand. There are about 60 free activities to do on the island; stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling, sailing are just a few. So you can grab whatever equipment you need and head out on the water.

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We took a trip into ‘town’ and picked a souvenir for Lacey to take home. Shane and Lacey also managed to squeeze in some quality pool time {essential on every trip, you know!}.

We got room service for dinner and crashed out. If you’re ever at the Reef View Hotel I can high recommend the pumpkin risotto. Still dreaming about it.

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WEDNESDAY

We headed down to the Wildlife park to have breakfast with the koalas. If you remember back to when Oprah visited Australia and she met some koalas, this is where she did it. I highly recommend that you put this on your to-do list when visiting. You sit at a table while the koalas hang out beside you in their branches. It’s pretty cool. You can pay extra to cuddle them and have your photo taken with them.

After breakfast Shane and Lacey played putt-putt golf and had one last swim in the pool, while I packed the bags and put Luella to sleep.

The verdict from our trip? It’s pretty much the perfect family holiday. The island is really clean, and easy to navigate. They even have an App so you can find everything easily. If you travel smart, you can make it really affordable. I paid $99 each way in flights for Shane and Lacey. And if you take advantage of the kids stay and eat free deal, then you can make it work on a budget. Also, remember that you can buy food from the supermarket and BBQ near the beach {which I saw families doing} it would be pretty cool. There are also loads of other accommodation options too, so you can check out prices for other places on Google {I’m sure}. When the kids are old enough, I’ve told Shane that we’re jetting off to Qualia for a mini-break {it’s a five-star resort on the island}.

I traveled as a guest of Hamilton Island. To be completely transparent, our accommodation was covered, as was breakfast and dinner on the first night. The cruise was covered for me, I paid for the rest of the family to travel. Our golf buggy hire was covered too. Everything else, ice creams, lunches, dinner on the second night and flights for Shane and Lacey, and long-term parking at Brisbane airport was covered by us as a family. This is my own personal view of the trip. 

Comments

  1. says

    Felt like i have a virtual tour with you. So nicely written in simple way. Hope our wish come true some day soon!

    Offtopic Q: do you use photoshop for writing fonts on pics (1st pic)? Or any idea about free/cheap app to write fonts (with bit trasperancy effect) on pics just like yours? Thanks! xx

  2. Lisa says

    A couple of years back we went to Whitehaven . The tour guy told us how the silica sand is like mini dermabraison of rubbed white on the skin. He wasn’t kidding , my teenager with his problem skin at the time did as he suggested and his face was blemish free with all redness gone completely . It stayed this was for 6 weeks after we returned home.

  3. says

    Ah that looks divine. Coming from England there are just SO many amazing places on my list of ‘things/places to see in Australia’ and it just keeps getting longer and longer……..

  4. Vicki says

    So nice to hear your point of view as a guest of my former home of six years. As a resident living and working on this tropical island you take it for granted and find you don’t get to do the touristy things. And now that I’m back home on the Sunshine Coast I am going to enjoy everything this beautiful area has to offer. Thank you Chantelle for the memories.

  5. says

    Chris took the kids and I to Hamilton Island for my 30th birthday a couple of years ago. Ella was 4 at the time and Ryder was 9 months. It was BLISS! The perfect family holiday! It was so lovely to read this post of yours and relive those memories.
    Isn’t Whitehaven just heaven on earth?! We flew in there by chopper – a memory that is probably one of my best EVER!!! I blogged about that day here: http://claireeverafter.com/blog/2012/8/30/day-four-whitehaven-beach-i-mean-whiteheaven.html
    Claire x
    P.S. YAY…I can comment on your blog again – for months it wouldn’t let me….the comments weren’t loading on my laptop! x

  6. says

    I find all the islands up there really tired, dated and overpriced – but I did live in Mackay for years and it was really the main holiday type place to go up there so I think I’ve been too many times lol.

    • says

      I find Daydream really tired and in need of an overhaul of sorts, but didn’t feel that way with Hamilton. I’m dying to get back to Hayman and see what they’ve done there. Have you checked that out?

      • says

        I’ve been to old Hayman and again, bit tired and sad. Have they renovated recently? I had a really fun daggy work team building weekend at Daydream, so so bad good lol. Those Dolphin print bed spreads, oh my! I will say since moving away (back to Melbourne) and now having a child I can now appreciate the family friendly element of the Whitsunday’s.

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