Guide to Eat, Play & Rest on Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island is a haven for all - families, friends, couples, honeymooners & babymooners. Whether you're after some well earned R&R, an injection of adventure and not to forget great food, you'll find it here. Positioned in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, it's one of the most sought out holiday destinations in Australia. It's an ideal base to explore the Whitsundays including the world famous Whitehaven Beach. If I'm honest, in the past I've been hesitant to visit Hamilton Island, mostly due to its mixed & perhaps tired reputation. However in the last decade or so, there has been an influx of investment thanks to the Oatley family who have transformed the island to a middle-upmarket destination. Now with an impressive yacht club, marina precinct, a premium 18 hole golf course on neighbouring Dent Island and the internationally acclaimed luxury resort, Qualia, it's paradise on Australian soil.
Beach Club gardensWe recently visited Hamilton Island and could not have been happier with our chosen destination. The service, food, accommodation and natural beauty of the island all made for the perfect holiday to wind down. Read below for our recommendations & helpful tips to get the best out of your holiday here (click on the bold links for further info):
EatSplurge Qualia Long Pavilion is the pinnacle of dining experiences on Hamilton Island (if not Australia). It is one of the most idyllic & romantic restaurants, perched high up on the most northern tip of the island, overlooking Qualia's infinity lap pool. The menu is cutting edge, modern Australian with an incredible 4, 6,8 0r 10 course degustation and a la carte menu to choose from. The decadent Shiro Kin full-blood Wagyu Striploin (marble 9+) being the highly regarded and most popular dish. Award winning Alastair Waddell is the executive chef here - Qualia resort, 20 Whitsunday Blvd (Open for guests of Qualia or by invitation only) Bommie restaurant is situated in the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, a stunning architectural highlight on the island which draws upon its tropical and marine setting inside & out. The award winning waterfront restaurant also offers fine modern Australian cuisine with a tasting and al carte menu on offer. - Yacht Club, Front St (Bookings are essential, dinner only) Mid-Range Coco Chu is one of the most popular restaurants on the island and rightly so. Serving innovative Hawker style asian food, the restaurant has a relaxed beachy vibe overlooking Catseye Beach. It's a popular spot with families as kids eat free from the kids menu when dining with parents (for guests staying at the Reef Hotel, Palm Bungalows or private homes booked via HIAA). It's also just as popular with couples and groups thanks to its great cocktail menu and vibrant atmosphere. Try their popular Lobster & Betel Leaves dish as a shared starter, it won't disappoint. - Hamilton Island Resort Centre, Resort Drive (bookings essential - Tip opt for a a later time if you wish to miss the rush with families, dinner only) Cheap & Cheerful Tako is the latest addition to the islands restaurant scene. A relaxed, fun, casual bar/restaurant is serving up modern regional Mexican cuisine with a twist of Korean. Positioned on the top floor within the marina precinct, it offers stunning views over the harbour. The menu is designed for sharing offering a range of tostados, quesadillas, tacos and ensaladas. Tako also extends the kids eat free concept to guests of the Reef Hotel and Palm Bungalows. - Front St (Walk ins only, dinner only) Manta Ray is one of the few restaurants down at the marina open for lunch and dinner. Directly overlooking the harbour shore, it's a mediterranean style casual eatery with gourmet pizzas being the main attraction. It also offers a takeaway service if you're planning on having a pizza night in! The same kids eat free offer applies here too. - Front St (walks in, bookings for large groups) Popeyes is the local fish and chip shop down by the harbour. They have a few tables to eat in at, however grabbing some takeaway and finding a soft grassy patch to lay down on and watch the world go by is highly recommend. They have a generous menu to choose from even including a small selection of hot bbq chickens. Tip: Their fish burgers/wraps are definitely worth the wait! - Front St
Lobster Betel leaves at Coca Chu restaurant. Image: Hamilton Island Tourism
PlayLand Catseye Beach is the main beach on the island, easily accessible and offering plenty of space for everyone. Grab your favourite book and find a position to (safely) bathe in the sunshine and soak up the sea air. Low tide is a great time to explore the sea shore. Tip: If it's a windy day, the southern end, away from the beach sports is sheltered plus offers some extra peace & quiet. One Tree Hill is a popular spot to watch the sunset due to its prime position with 180 degree views. Top this experience off with a cocktail and a cheese plate at the One Tree Hill Bar. Tip: As soon as the sun sets quickly move to the bar to grab yourself a table. Sports/Leisure Centre - Open daily, the sports centre offers complimentary use to guests of Qualia, Reef View, Beach Club & Palm Bungalows (excl the aerobic classes) throughout your stay. Facilities include tennis courts, gym, mini golf, spa & sauna. The aerobic classes are offered to guests at a 50% discount & include yoga, bodypump, circuit, boxing to name a few. Spa Wumurdaylin - The word Wumurdaylin, meaning Dragonfly symbolises freedom, beauty and renewal, the perfect reflection on how this spa makes you feel. They use all natural products & offer a wide range of spa services, including an incredible pregnancy massage, something I can personally vouch for, it's worth every penny. The island has the whole family covered for entertainment. If you're after some downtime away from the kids, check out the kids Clownfish Club which caters for children 6 weeks - 14 years! There is also 24hr babysitting available, perfect if you want a romantic dinner for two. Water Great Barrier Reef Tours - The sea is what draws most people to Hamilton Island. It's truly an aquatic playground. Due to its prime position within the Great Barrier Reef, there are multiple tour companies offering half and full day trips snorkelling/diving expeditions. One of the most popular outings is a trip out to Reef World, great if you don't mind a crowd. Whitehaven Beach is one of the worlds purest, unspoiled beaches in the world. You can explore the beach by helicopter, seaplane or just a 30 min catamaran boat trip. The sand is 98% pure white silica which has to be seen to be believed. On the beach you can take a guided hike, have a picnic or simply enjoy the crystal blue water. The Beach Sports Club offers a wider range of water based activities, most are included if you are guests of Reef View Hotel, Palm Bungalows or Beach Club (basically any of the Hamilton Island owned properties). These activities include stand up paddle boards, windsurfing, snorkel hire, mini catamarans and kayaks. There are a handful of Pools open to guests on the island, great for families however probably a bit to loud & busy for you couples. However if you're staying at Qualia, Beach Club or Yacht Club Villas, these properties feature private pools for those guests only, guaranteeing a more tranquil experience.
RestSplurge Qualia, positioned on the secluded northernmost tip of the island, offers guests absolute luxury and privacy. The experience here is all about extreme relaxation and beauty. Guests stay in private pavilions cleverly scattered around the headland. Not only does it have 2 private infinity pools, it also has it's own private beach, Pebble Beach. As mentioned above, a meal at the Long Pavilion is a special experience. - Qualia resort, 20 Whitsunday Blvd Premium Beach Club is an adults only boutique hotel which delivers understated luxury. Positioned on Catseye Beach you can walk directly from the hotels gardens and ground floor rooms into the sea. The Beach Club does have its very own private pool which is great for spending a few lazy hours, ordering cool cocktails and having a pool side lunch. We spent 3 nights here and were extremely impressed by the quality of service, food and decor. Breakfast here was a highlight, small buffet & an la carte menu with two changing daily specials. Pics of our brekkie here and here. A beautiful place to stay for couples. - Beach Club Boutique Hotel, Resort Drive Yacht Club Villas are private waterfront properties only a short stroll from the majestic Yacht Club and marina precinct. Perfect for families or groups of friends who are looking for a premium experience (each villa has 4 bedrooms). Here you have the option to cook & eat in as each villas has a state of the art kitchen. There is a private pool on the grounds for guests here too plus each villa gets a golf buggy to use for their stay. - Yacht Club, Front St Mid-Range Palm Bungalows have recently been refurbished to offer a relaxed modern contemporary experience. With a fully equipped small kitchenette, you have the choice to cook and eat in or explore the many nearby restaurants. Set amongst tropical gardens, it's only a short stroll to the beach or nearby Reef Hotel where you can go for breakfast or a swim in the pool. Set up for couples or small families it offers great value for money. (Tip: ask for the Bungalows closest to the Main Pool/Coco Chu as they have a prettier setting). - Resort Drive Reef View Hotel is the largest property on the island. If you like the experience of a big hotel, you'll like the Reef View Hotel. All rooms are large, have private balconies offering expansive views, in particular those facing the Coral Sea. The Reef View has a large pool and includes a generous buffet for breakfast. It has a great central location, only a few mins walk to the beach or marina precinct. - Resort Drive Hamilton Island also has a collection of private holidays houses & apartments you can rent which vary from budget - high range budgets.
Beach Club roomsFor further information visit www.hamiltonisland.com.au *In July, Hamilton Island participates in the Great Barrier Feast wine and food festival. Acclaimed chefs host master cooking classes and exciting culinary events. The weekend ends with a showpiece dinner. Find out more details here. If you enjoyed this post, check out our top Australian Foodie Escapes and our guide to another popular Queensland destination, Noosa. Happy & safe travels foodies!
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