Hamilton Island is one of the main islands in the Whitsundays archipelago. This incredible archipelago of 74 islands is located on the east coast of Australia, 900 km north of Brisbane. This is the start of the Great Barrier Reef, which then extends to the north of the country for more than 2,000 km. Hamilton Island is a little paradise on earth with lots of activities to discover. In this article, we give you all of our tips for visiting Hamilton Island the best way.
How to get to Hamilton Island?
There are several ways to access the island. If you’re already at Airlie Beach, you can take the ferry from the wharf. Cruise Whitsundays provides 10 daily transfers between Airlie Beach and Hamilton. The trip takes around 1 hour. You will stop at Daydream Island before reaching Hamilton. The company also offers departures from Shute Harbor with shorter travel time. You can buy your tickets online on the company’s website or directly at the wharf on the day of your departure.
The ferry from Airlie wharf leaves approximately every hour from 7 a.m. The trip costs $62 per person (or $124 return). From April 2020, the price is expected to drop to $59. The ferry from Shute Harbor only provides 3 departures per day. The journey time is shorter and it will only take you 35 minutes to reach the island. A return ticket costs 137 per person.
To view ferry schedules from Airlie Beach and Shute Harbor, click here.
To get to Hamilton Island, you have 2 options. In fact, there are two airports in the region. Proserpine (Whitsundays Airport) inland airport is approximately 35 minutes from Airlie Beach. Many shuttles or taxis run between the airport and the city. This airport is served by major Australian cities. You will easily find direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, etc. Several flights land and depart from the island daily, operated by Qantas, Virgin or Jetstar. The airport is small, there are a few cafés and a very nice aquarium in the centre.
Finally, Hamilton Airport (Great Barrier Reef Airport) is located on the island itself. You can, therefore, access it directly without going through Airlie Beach and the boat. The airport is well served, with slightly fewer flights than Proserpine but the big cities are scheduled. You will easily find direct flights from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne (direct or with a stopover).
What is the best time to visit Hamilton Island?
Hamilton is located in the Whitsunday Archipelago. It is located above the Tropic of Capricorn and therefore has a subtropical climate. Summers from December to April are hot. The temperatures vary around 30 degrees. Winters from June to September are milder with 24 degrees on average.
What to do in Hamilton Island?
Take advantage of the hotels
Once on the island, you can enjoy many activities! First, know that you can access the hotels and resorts of the island freely and free of charge (except private resorts). You can enjoy the swimming pools, restaurants, bars and games room of the island’s complexes. You can also access the Wumurdaylin Spa with services from $80.
Discover the local flora and fauna
To explore the island’s wildlife and diversity, you can visit Hamilton Island Wildlife. This small park is open every day. You can have breakfast next to the koalas (7.00-10.00) or discover dingos, reptiles, kangaroos etc. Entrance costs $27 and is valid for the duration of your stay on Hamilton.
You can also decide to discover the island through one of its many hiking trails. There are many walks to do, depending on your level and the walking time you want. The shortest one is 1.2 km long and will take you 1 hour including return. You also have walks of several km (3 to 4 km) which take up to 4 hours including return. So bring enough water and snacks.
To see the map and the different steps available on the island, click here.
Do one of the many activities on offer
On the island, you can also try your hand at many water sports such as windsurfing, kayaking, snorkelling, jet skiing or simply enjoy the pretty beaches of the island like Catseye Beach. The equipment can be rented for a few hours from hotels on the island.
Hamilton Island also offers many activities within the island. In fact, you can enjoy bowling, the go-kart track, numerous swimming pools or even the mini-golf course. You can also rent a tennis court or explore the island via an Off-road Adventure Tour, driving an all-terrain vehicle ($150 for hire). For families, know that Hamiton also offers many activities for children (painting classes, sports activities for all ages). The Clownfish Club childcare facility is taking care of children from the age of 6 weeks and up to 14 years old allowing you to drop off your children for a little free time.
For golf lovers, do not miss the 18 hole course located on Dent Island, very close to Hamilton… Yes, golf on its own island, a unique experience! The course was designed by the Australian player, Peter Thomson. It embraces the curves of the island with hills, limited landing zones … in short, whether you are a beginner or a pro, you will love this golf course with incredible landscapes. You can choose to play 9 holes – $ 110 or 18 for $ 160. It is possible to rent clubs and shoes. Ferry transfers to and from Hamilton are included in the price. To book your trip, click here.
Take a tour to the Great Barrier Reef
Finally, one of the flagship activities from Hamilton remains to do a tour to the Great Barrier Reef or to visit the surrounding islands. From the island, it is very simple to explore the archipelago and its wonders. You can decide to leave for a few hours or a day. Many tours depart from Hamilton for the enjoyment of all. On the program, snorkelling, boat, helicopter flight, walking to Inlet Lookout .. You will inevitably find what suits you.
Spend your day sailing around the Whitsundays. Experience all the beauty of t the spectacular Whitehaven and Chalkies beaches. Discover Whitehaven Beach and wander the white sands, take a dip and relax on Australia’s number 1 beach. Snorkel and discover the amazing sea life, including turtles. To book your tour, click here.
You can also explore the surrounding islands, such as DayDream with the daily ferry.
Note that many tours depart from the island and are intended for the whole family. Note that you can also choose to hire a boat from the island to explore the Whitsundays to your liking.
How to get around in Hamilton Island?
The island is quite large but only part of it has roads. There are no cars on the island, only electric vehicles. There are several ways to get around once there.
To check out the map of Hamilton Island, click here.
The shuttle bus (Shuttle service)
A free bus operates every day from 6.50 in the morning until 11 pm. There are two routes served by the shuttle bus which runs every 15 to 40 minutes.
Check the hours and routes of the shuttles here.
One of the best ways to see the island is to bring your sneakers! You can easily reach the hotels on foot. Be aware that the island is hilly, so be prepared to sweat a little during your walks. Fountains of drinking water are available along the principal axes.
Buggy (golf cart)
If you want to explore the island at your own pace, the buggy is, without doubt, the best solution. You can rent by the day ($59 – rate regressive) with 2 or 4 seaters. In addition to being fun, this means of transport will allow you to discover Hamilton’s up-and-down without breaking a sweat! Remember to book in advance because in high season it is difficult to get a buggy.
Where to sleep on the Island?
For accommodation, several solutions are available to you. Be sure to book in advance as the best accommodations will quickly book out! Whether you are planning a vacation with your partner, friends or family, Hamilton Island offers six different types of accommodation.
Enjoy the ultimate in luxury at Qualia ($1300 a night) or the Beach Club ($740 a night). Relax in front of a magnificent view in the four-star Reef View hotel ($350 per night), or you prefer something more private like the Palm Bungalow ($400). You can also choose to rent a vacation home, ranging from casual to luxurious (variable rates). There is something for all budgets and it is often possible to have discounts by booking several nights (for example you take 4 nights and pay only 3).