Earlier this year I was given the tricky task of planning a five night holiday for our extended family. The group included grandparents, teens, a baby and a single parent family.
Here are the 11 reasons we unanimously decided that Hamilton Island was the perfect choice for our family holiday.
1. It’s an any time of year destination
Hamilton Island has average temperatures around the mid-20s all year, meaning it’s a great destination to escape the winter chill of the mainland.
April to June is particularly beautiful with weather ranging from mild to warm and lots of days with crisp, clear blue skies. At this time of year, there’s also a chance of seeing Humpback whales frolicking in the Whitsundays.
2. There are activities for everyone
Water babies will love the range of activities on the water. You can hire a catamaran or take sailing lessons and borrow a kayak or stand up paddle board. If you’re looking for something more adrenalin fuelled, you can scoot across the water on a jet ski, take to the skies with parasailing or go for a ride in a high-speed jet boat.
If you’re more interested in what’s under the water, grab some snorkelling gear and take to the fringing reefs where you might see turtles and you will definitely see lots of fish.
Above the water you can tee off at Hamilton Island Mini Golf course, trek through the bush trails to uncover hidden coves and pretty picnic spots, or indulge your need for speed at Hamilton Island’s own go-kart track.
At WILD LIFE Hamilton Island you can breakfast with a couple of cute and cuddly koalas before exploring the rest of the park, which is packed with native animals including a crocodile.
And for something completely different, Hamilton Island offers year-round art classes for all ages and skills levels.
3. It’s easy to get to
There’s something extra relaxing about flying to a tropical island without needing your passport. You can fly directly to Hamilton Island from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Flights from Sydney are only about 2.5 hours and you can choose to fly Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar.
If you prefer to drive, head to Airlie Beach, where ferries cruise to Hamilton Island throughout the day. Long term parking is available at the Port of Airlie terminals, as well as other parking within the precinct.
4. The ‘Baby’s First Holiday’ service
Guests staying at either the Reef View or Palm Bungalows, you can request baby items to be available in your room when you arrive. Things like cots, high chairs, strollers, change mats and baby baths can be borrowed for the duration of your stay at no extra charge.
You can also pre-purchase supplies like nappies, Sudo Cream, baby wipes and swim nappies so that they are in your room when you check in.
Find out more about the Baby’s First Holiday services
5. Golf buggies
Hamilton Island is car free. For a fun way to explore, hire a golf buggy and take yourself on a tour of the island. There are both 2-seater and 4-seater buggies available and if your child needs a car seat, the golf buggy rental team can fit one for you.
6. Access to the Whitsunday and Great Barrier Reef
Hamilton Island is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. Choose from snorkelling, walking on the squeaky, super fine, white sand of Whitehaven Beach, take a scenic flight over the picture perfect Heart Reef or go on a sailing adventure. There are a range of half, full or multi-day tours available catering to different interests and budgets.
7. Food, glorious food
Surrounded by sea and with a lush hinterland just a boat ride away, some of Queensland’s best fresh produce is guaranteed on Hamilton island. There’s a huge choice of dining options. From laid-back, family-friendly cafés to waterside seafood specialists and award-winning high-end restaurants, there’s something to suit travellers of every budget and palate.
Some Hamilton resorts and restaurants offer deals where kids up to 12 can eat free when dining with a paying adult. Sails and the Pool Terrace Restaurant offer great kid’s menus and if the kids are hankering for pizza and pasta, check out laid-back Manta Ray Cafe or the more upmarket Italian, Romano’s, on the waterfront.
For some adult-only time, consider booking either lunch or dinner at qualia’s Long Pavilion or Pebble Beach.
8. Accommodation options a plenty
There are accommodation options to suite a range of budgets and needs. The Reef View Hotel caters to families looking for a hotel experience. It is where we decided to stay this trip. We booked two 2-bedroom suites and requested they be on the same floor, which made afternoon drinks on the balcony very easy to co-ordinate.
If you’re looking a self catering option, Palm Bungalows include a kitchenette and is just a short walk to the beach and resort pools.
Hamilton Island holiday homes are self-contained, air-conditioned, and most come with a private golf buggy. They are spread around the island so offer an opportunity to experience a different side of island life.
It’s worth knowing that qualia, Hamilton Island’s luxury accommodation, doesn’t cater for children under 16 (and that includes babies). If you are looking for a luxury family escape with younger children, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas are a good option.
Looking for more information on the accommodation options? We’ve got a full story explaining what’s what: Hamilton Island accommodation by budget
9. Lots of things are free
Start your adventure by downloading the free Hamilton Island App, which provides a what’s-on’ guide with start-times and locations of the island’s many free daily activities.
Spend a day splashing in the water or playing on pretty Catseye Beach, or snorkel the nearby fringing reef and explore the sand flats at low tide to see shells and hermit crabs.
Bushwalkers are spoiled for choice with a number of trails, including the popular Scenic Trail, many leading to quiet beaches. Hideaway Bay is one secluded beach that’s just a short hike from the Scenic Trail entrance, and provides an idyllic spot for a swim. Another trail not to be missed is one to the top of Passage Peak from Catseye Beach, where epic views await.
And be sure to do your research and take advantage of the stay and eat free packages for kids under 12.
10. The Clownfish Club childcare
The the professional and fully qualified staff at the Clownfish Club look after kids aged six weeks to 14 years. Each day there are fun-filled activities that the kids can participate in, all while making new friends on the island.
Kids can attend for morning, afternoon, or full-day sessions.
11. Spectacular sunsets over the water
There aren’t many places on the east coast of Australia where you can see the sun set over the water. You can on Hamilton Island.
Head up to One Tree Hill to watch the sun set with a picnic, or grab a drink from One Tree Hill bar.
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Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.