In the middle of Hardy Reef in the Whitsundays, the coral has naturally formed in the shape of a heart. We’ll take it as a sign. This sure is one special place!
The Whitsundays, a group of 74 islands in Queensland’s Coral Sea, are one of the most loved destinations in Australia. They are the perfect access point to the Great Barrier Reef and home to family favourite, Whitehaven Beach. So pick a stay that suits your budget and travel style and dive in.
Check out our top 7 Whitsundays family accommodation options ranging from 5-star island resort to self-catered villa, top-tier caravan park to overnight cruise.
The hub of the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton is stress-free, well-equipped and easy to access. In fact, you can fly there directly from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns, then island-hop to other Whitsunday attractions. We couldn’t pick a fav, so here are three Whitsundays family accommodation choices on Hamilton Island.
1. Reef View Hotel
The spacious, 4-star Reef View Hotel sits opposite Catseye Beach. It has views of lush, landscaped gardens in one direction, or the stunning Coral Sea in the other. A stay at the Reef View Hotel entitles you to use of catamarans, windsurfers, kayaks, paddleboards, snorkels, gym facilities, spa, sauna and tennis courts.
Rooms: Several choices are available. For smaller families, the Garden View sleeps four, with two queen beds and an ensuite with a bath. The Reef Family Room has a master suite with two queen beds, adjoined to a junior room with two singles.
Pricing: Garden View Room from $351 per night. Reef Family Room from $549 per night.
Hot tip: The Reef View often runs special deal packages if you stay 4 nights or more. Kids stay and eat free from the kids’ menu of participating restaurants nearby.
2. Palm Bungalows
Another Catseye Beach catch for smaller families, Palm Bungalows melds family-friendly hotel with self-catered haven. Sit back on your private balcony, before soaking up the fresh and light feel of spacious living area.
Also on Catseye Beach, the fresh and light feel of this kid-friendly catch will suit smaller families well.
Rooms: King bed and single divan, as well as a fully-equipped kitchenette with bar fridge and microwave.
Pricing: From $396 per night
Hot tip: Stay at Palm Bungalows and you can enjoy breakfast at the neighbouring Reef View Hotel
3. Hamilton Island Holiday Homes
Less a destination and more a suite of options, Hamilton Island Holiday Homes boast the best self-contained Whitsundays family accommodation range. You can expect modern, waterfront luxury from the likes of Yacht Club villas, elegant simplicity from the cosy Whitsunday apartments and everything in between.
Rooms: Yacht Club Villas comfortably house eight guests in four bedrooms and four bathrooms. They have gorgeous kitchens and a kids-eat-free deal with Manta Ray restaurant. Sleeping arrangements vary at different Whitsunday apartments but are typically one split king, two single trundles and a queen sofa bed.
Pricing: Yacht Club Villas from $1096 per night. Whitsunday Apartments from $320 per night.
Hot tip: There are great last-minute price drops for a last-minute getaway, especially in the off-season.
4. Daydream Island Resort
Step into a paradise so serene and surreal that you will feel like you’re in a daydream! Not only do you get a mid-range, family-friendly taste of luxury at Daydream Island Resort, you also immerse in the local ecosystem. The resort recently re-opened after enormous redevelopments.
While there, watch movies at the open-air cinema. Play island sports. Feed stingrays with marine biologists. Grab a Movenpick ice cream from the poolside bar. Kids aged 4 to 12 years can sign up to a morning or afternoon session at the Kids Club. Activities include fish feeding, coral collecting, rainforest walks, beach sports, scavenger hunts and kite making.
Daydream Island is only about one-kilometre long and 400 metres wide. It is one of seven Molle Group islands in the Whitsundays. To get there, take the Cruise Whitsundays ferry from Airlie port or Hamilton Island.
Rooms: The resort boasts 277 rooms and suites, including interconnecting options for larger families. A Standard Room has either two queen beds or one king and a rollaway. A Superior Room typically has two queens.
Pricing: Standard room from $260. Superior room from $310. Family package for $1299, including 4 nights in Superior Pool View Twin Room (two queens) with daily buffet breakfast and transfers
Hot tip: The show-stopper is the Living Reef. A free-form coral lagoon winds its way for 200 metres around the resort’s central building. More than 100 different species of fish, ray, coral, starfish, crab live in the reef. Learn more and interact with the touch pools at Reef Exploration Centre. Otherwise, do a yoga session in the Underwater Observatory.
Our editor Janeece Keller visited Daydream Island with her baby daughter. Read her review here.
5. InterContinental Hayman Island Resort
Fancy a private island stay? The northernmost island of the Whitsundays, Hayman Island is exclusive to guests at the resort.
Live it up at this 168-room resort which re-opened in July 2019 under InterContinental. It underwent a huge refurbishment following Cyclone Debbie. It boasts a fresh, modern and on-trend vibe. Make the most of the gym facilities, golf simulator, underwater reef scooters, recreational centre and other available facilities.
Tag along to Planet Trekkers, a Kids Club activity program for kids aged 4 to 12 years. No two days are the same with a mix of indoor playroom time and outdoor fun. The schedule includes sandcastle building, water bucket relays, guided nature walks, coconut bowling and fish feeding. Sessions run three times a day for 3.5 hours each.
Rooms: There are several types of accommodation to choose from, starting at Lagoon or Pool Rooms which can be arranged to interconnect. Otherwise, there are one-, two- and three-bedroom suits, a Beachfront Pool Villa, and a three-bedroom Hayman Beach House. To give you a rough idea, the Family Lagoon Suite consists of a king suite and twin bedroom connected by a foyer. Each room has an ensuite and private balcony. This suite is available on request only and sleeps up to six.
For the ultimate indulgence, choose one of two private Hayman Residences. Splash out big-time on hilltop seclusion, with access to all resort services.
Hot tip: Hayman Island Resort offers an entire catalogue of on-island tours and self-guided activities. You can also arrange day trips to Langford Island, Blue Pearl Bay, Hook Island, Whitehaven Beach and more.
6. Airlie Beach Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
One of our favourite Whitsunday family accommodation picks actually sits on the mainland. This laid-back, award-winning holiday park shows off the best of the Whitsunday coast minus the stress-factor of transfers.
Airlie Beach is the launching point of lots of boat tours and day trips that take you to Whitehaven Beach or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. You can also try your hand at barramundi fishing, or try to spot a whale during the June to September season.
Facilities: 32-metre lagoon-style swimming pool, waterpark with thirteen slides, mini golf, two giant jumping pillows, adventure playground, pedal karts, animal park, family trivia nights, tennis courts, outdoor movies, Kermit’s Kids Club.
Pricing: Powered camp site from $42 per night. Studio Cabins $158 per night. Two-bedroom villa from $200 per night. Three-bedroom condo from $335 per night.
Hot tips: Airlie Beach is also home to Big4 Whitsundays Tropical Eco-Resort and Discovery Parks Airlie Beach. Both are equally as well-appointed, budget-friendly and well kitted-out. If you’d prefer self-contained mainland accommodation instead, try Airlie Apartments, Accom Whitsundays, Mantra or Marina Shores.
We wanted to shake up our list of Whitsundays family accommodation with something a little different from Cruise Whitsundays. For a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive experience, sleep out on the reef under the stars on the Reefworld Pontoon. As the day visitors depart, enjoy having the crystal waters all to yourselves. The two-day, one-night small group trip is limited to 30 people. Included activities range from snorkelling, semi-submarine guided tour and an alfresco dinner prepared by the onboard chef.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly made mention of an underwater auditorium on the Reefworld Pontoon.
Room: Sleep in a Queen Reefbed on the top level of the pontoon, or a fancy suite below deck.
Pricing: A double reefbed for two people from $595 per person.
Hot tip: This luxury experience might look like one for the honeymooners, but it is great for keen kids 10 and over.
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