Going on holiday to Australia? Ask anyone, Australian or otherwise, to name the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and you can bet they’ll tell you it’s Cairns. I’m here to tell you something different. Certainly, the popular Queensland town has a lot going for it, but it’s not the only gateway to the reef.
And if you’re looking to combine an unforgettable Great Barrier Reef adventure with a little beach relaxation, some fine dining, luxury accommodation and a whole host of exciting entertainments and activities, I can promise you that Hamilton Island – the largest of Queensland’s inhabited Whitsunday Islands – offers holidaymakers their own personal slice of paradise.
Why is Hamilton Island such an unmissable destination? Well, for starters it’s as close to the Great Barrier Reef as you could wish for. The undersea treasures of the world’s largest and greatest coral reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be easily reached in as little as fifteen minutes from Hamilton Island by exhilarating high-speed catamaran or seaplane, or explored at a more leisurely pace by chartered yacht. Now that’s what I call a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
If, like me, you believe that chilling out on a pristine sun-kissed beach lapped by warm turquoise waters is an essential holiday experience, you’re in luck. Whitehaven Beach, on the uninhabited Whitsunday Island, is a must for wannabe Robinson Crusoes. Comparable to the best that the Caribbean can offer, Whitehaven Beach’s seven kilometres of talcum-powder sands and inviting sapphire waters have earned it a reputation as one of the world’s best beaches. Better still, getting there from Hamilton Island is easy; whether you choose to hop over by seaplane or helicopter or cross by catamaran or yacht you can be soaking up the sun on your own exclusive patch of desert island in less than half an hour.
There’s more to Hamilton Island than the reef and the beach alone, of course. In fact, last time I counted there were more than sixty different activities on offer to amuse and delight holidaymakers of all ages. Naturally, you can indulge in every kind of water sport imaginable think of including parasailing, kayaking, jet-skiing, windsurfing, snorkelling, diving and fishing. Then there’s Hamilton Island’s own eighteen-hole championship golf course, a shooting range and tennis courts, whilst kids will love go-karting, mini-golf and their own ‘blue-light’ disco. Walking trails offer the unique opportunity to explore and discover the island’s natural beauty, plants and wildlife.
If the thought of the endless fun and activities you’ll enjoy on a Hamilton Island holiday leave feeling a little peckish, you’re in the right place. Whatever your personal foodie preference you’re going to love Hamilton Island’s bars and restaurants. From mouth-watering steaks to sublime seafood, Australian, Asian or French cuisine or even perfect pizzas, the stylish restaurants here guarantee an unforgettable getaway for gourmets. Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of informal bars and takeaway outlets too. And what could be more romantic than watching the sun set over the beach or marina with a chilled Australian wine or cocktail?
There’s never a bad time of year to visit Hamilton Island; a packed calendar of events ensures that there’s something going on every month of the year and with stacks of great accommodation to choose from including the luxurious Qualia resort, the relaxing Palm Bungalows and the stunning and exclusive Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas it soon becomes clear that when it comes to ‘gateways to the Great Barrier Reef’, unmissable Hamilton Island really does have something for everyone.
Yes that’s me, Jerry Bridge on the right with my best friend Chris Reeves, commuting to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach in 1983. I was the general groundsman for the resort and Chris a very good kitchen hand…we were over qualified but loved the three month working holiday experience! Hamilton Island has always been a special place me ever since…