Hamilton Island & The Great Barrier Reef: A quick guide

Just thinking back to my trips to Hamilton Island makes me nostalgic for fish & chips at sunset, early morning, soul awakening ocean swims and the tropical island life. It was only a matter of time before I had to write-up a blog post about it

The Great Barrier Reek is a high contender on any travelers bucket list. And why wouldn’t it be? Its one of the natural wonders of the world and the largest reef systems around.

The Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish and hundreds of other animal species. There is over 9,000 island on the reef. But the Whitsundays are arguably the best group of islands. These 74 Islands lie between the northeast coast of Queensland, Australia, on a part of the reef that is teeming with marine life. Most of the islands are uninhabited and are characterized by dense rainforest, hiking trails and white sand beaches.

One of the most popular of the islands would have to be Hamilton Island which is the largest inhabited island in the region. Hamilton Island is a tropical paradise and the perfect location to base yourself to explore the beauty of the Whitsundays.

Sunset at One Tree Hill

What to do on Hamilton Island

  • Snorkeling and scuba diving
  • Spend a day visiting some of the most beautiful uninhabited islands visiting
  • Visit Whitehaven beach
  • Quadbikes
  • Stand up paddle boarding at Catseye beach
  • Learn to sail
  • Golf
  • watch the sunset at One Tree Hill
  • Parasailing over the reef
Whitehaven Beach

Where to stay on Hamilton Island

We stayed at Franginani Apartments which are a great option if you are travelling in a group. The apartments include the rental of a golf buggy for the duration of your stay to get you around as there is no cars on the island! These self catering apartments come with a fully equipped kitchen and a great view out to the ocean. While there are many options and great deals do come up, accommodation on the island can be expensive. Many backpackers stay at Airlie Beach where there are many hostels and budget accommodation options available.

Frangipani Aartments

Reef trips

If you are short on time, my advice would be to find a tour that takes you to a few different reefs to snorkel and also visit Whitehaven Beach (this is a must). Try here for some great tours! There are plenty of trips that you can book the day before from the marina on the island. After a few different reef trips, I personally don’t believe that the Fantasea trip to reefworld is worth the money. Bit overrated and more family focused.

Great Barrier Reef

Eat & Drink

There is a supermarket on the island which is handy if you are staying in a self catering apartment. It is expensive though compared to the mainland.  If you are coming from Airlie Beach it may be worth bringing food with you and just picking up anything you may have forgotten.

I recommend getting fish & chippies down by the marina one night when they have live music playing in the gardens. Besides that my top pick is Marina Tavern for good meals, cold drinks and a sweet view over the marina. Plus there is a bottle shop underneath to take a few travelers home.

For a drink you can’t go past Garden Bar with there ‘Create Your Own’ drinks menu whereby you can choose your own spirit, mixer and garnish to make your perfect drink. Or you can choose from a range of cocktails, beers, wines and spirits. They also have a DJ Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm. The other place you can’t miss is One Tree Hill for sunset cocktails and a spectacular view our over the islands.

If you haven’t yet seen your fair share of Oz animals on your visit to Australia, head to the wildlife park for breakfast with the Koala’s. Absolutely incredible!! Just make sure they don’t try to steal your pancakes…

Breakfast with the Koalas

Getting To Hamilton island 

Hamilton Island has its own domestic airport with flights to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns, with Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas. Flights also arrive into Airlie Beach’s Proserpine Airport. From Proserpine, ferries cruise to Hamilton Island throughout the day from Port of Airlie and Shute Harbour on the mainland. Long term parking is available at the Port of Airlie terminal. Ferries from the mainland to the island cost approx. $40-50 each way.

Once your there, there is a free shuttle bus that runs three different routes around the island. Just let the driver know where you are going and they will help you out. Some accommodation option come with a golf buggy to get around as there is no cars on the island. But there is not a lot that isn’t walking distance so get out and explore the beautiful island for yourself on your own two feet!

Willow. xx

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24 year old dysfunctional backpacker, creative & storyteller. Cannot do a cartwheel, but I can eat an entire lemon so if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is. Follow my (mis)adventures around the world!