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.
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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 Marina leaves approximately every hour from 7am. The cost is $61.90 per person ($123.8 return). The ferry from Shute Harbour has only 3 departures per day, but the journey time is shorter taking only 35 minutes to reach the island. The return trip costs $123.80 per person.
To fly to Hamilton Island, you have 2 options. There are two airports in the region. Firstly, Proserpine (Whitsundays Airport) inland airport is approximately 35 minutes from Airlie Beach. Many shuttles or taxis run between the airport and the city. This airport is served by major Australian cities. You can easily find direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, etc. Several flights land and depart from the island daily, operated by Qantas, Virgin or Jetstar. The airport is small, there are a few cafés and it has a very nice aquarium in the centre.
Secondly, Hamilton Airport (Great Barrier Reef Airport) is located on the island itself. You can, therefore, access it directly without going through Airlie Beach and the boat. Again, the airport is well served but has slightly fewer flights than Proserpine. You will easily find flights from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne (direct or with a stopover).
Best time of year to go to Hamilton Island
Hamilton is located in the Whitsunday archipelago. It is located above the Tropic of Capricorn and therefore has a subtropical climate.
During the summer (December to February) it is very hot, and there is also more rainfall. Temperatures vary around 30 degrees.
Winters (from June to September) are milder with an average of 24 degrees.
So the ideal season to visit is nearer to summer or mid-season (September to November or February/March).
What to do on Hamilton Island?
Make the most of the hotels
Once on the island, you can enjoy many activities! First of all, you can access the hotels and resorts of the island freely and for free (except private resorts). You can enjoy the pools, restaurants, bars and games room of the resorts on the island. You can also access the Wumurdaylin Spa with services starting at 80$.
Discover the local wildlife
To discover the island’s wildlife and bio diversity, you can visit Hamilton Island Wildlife park which is open daily. You can have breakfast next to the koalas (8.00-10.00am) or discover dingoes, reptiles, kangaroos etc. Admission costs $32 and is valid for the duration of your stay on Hamilton Island.
You can also discover the island through one of its many hiking trails. There are many walks to choose from, depending on your level and the length of walk 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 just in case!
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… A golf course on its own island – definitely 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 its incredible landscapes. You can choose to play 9 holes – $ 110 or play 18 for $ 160. You can also 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 main activities from Hamilton is an cruise to the Whitsunday Islands. However, from the island the offers are quite limited and the prices higher. The best thing to do is to check out the tours from Airlie Beach. Boat trips are usually day trips, so plan to spend a night at Airlie Beach. You can choose from snorkelling, boating, helicopter flights, Whitehaven Beach, walking to the Inlet Lookout… With all that’s on offer you are sure to find something to suit you.
Spend your day sailing around the Whitsundays. Experience the beauty of the spectacular Whitehaven and Chalkies beaches. Discover Whitehaven Beach and wander across 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 Island by getting the daily ferry.
There are many tours that leave from the island and are suitable for the whole family. These include days out at Reefworld and trips to the Great Barrier Reef for a few hours. You can also choose to hire a boat from the island to explore the Whitsundays at your leisure.
Take a scenic flight
One of the major attractions to do in the Whitsundays are scenic flight tours. The views over the archipelago are truly spectacular! We have included some of flight options available to get you started:
Scenic flight by plane: 60 minute flight. Departs from Airlie Beach. Several departures daily. Price: from $294/person.
Fly and Cruise Seaplane tour: 7 hour activity. Departs from Airlie Beach. Several departures daily. Price: $379/person.
Helicopter Scenic Flight: Experiences ranging from 40 minutes to several hours. Departs from Airlie Beach. Generally booked for at least 2 people. Several departures daily. Rate: From $249/person.
See the Heart Reef
If you opt for a scenic flight you will probably pass over this iconic heart-shaped reef, a well known feature in the area. It’s a great place to spend some quality time with your loved ones – and take some great photos!
How to get around on 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 trainers with you! 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. Drinking water fountains are available along the main routes.
Buggy (golf cart)
If you want to explore the island at your own pace the buggy is without a doubt the best solution. You can rent for the day ($59 – rate regressive) with 2 or 4 seats. In addition to being fun, this will allow you to discover Hamilton’s hilly landscapes without breaking a sweat! Remember to book in advance though, because in high season buggies are in high demand and you may not be able to find one at the last minute.
Where to sleep on the Island?
There are several options for accommodation. Make sure you book early as the best accommodation goes fast! Whether you are planning a holiday with your partner, friends or family, Hamilton Island has six different types of accommodation.
The finest hotels
More affordable (but still upscale) hotels
Rent a house
You can also choose to rent a holiday home, ranging from more casual set-ups to luxurious (rates vary). There is something for every budget and it is often possible to get discounts by booking several nights (e.g. you book for 4 nights but only pay for 3).