Imagine a paradise island; almost totally uninhabited, pristine landscape, perfect white beaches and brilliant turquoise water that actually sparkles. I want to tell you about one of the most beautiful places in the world, Hamilton Island, one of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia.
At the end of our incredible trip exploring Australia and before heading back to spend Christmas in Sydney, Mr S and I decided to visit the gorgeous Hamilton Island for a chance to explore the wanders of the Great Barrier Reef. Here are ten ways to enjoy a stay on the island in total luxury.
1. Stay at qualia
There are a few options for accommodation on Hamilton Island, but qualia is the choice for the ultimate in luxury. In 2012, Conde Nast Traveller voted qualia the best resort in the world and for Mr S and I it was easy to see why.
We had a huge room with beautiful light wood, constructed using local timber and stone and with stunning uninterrupted views out to sea. The whole of Hamilton island was owned by Robert Oatley (who sadly passed away recently), a sailing enthusiast and winemaker, whose passion for the beauty of his native Australia is translated in qualia. The architecture and style of the hotel celebrates the Whitsundays with an open plan design that appeals to all the senses.
There were two infinity pools where you can lay back and take in the view of the beautiful coral sea before you. And the sea really does sparkle as light is reflected off the fine sediments that come of the river systems from the mainland.
Qualia is also home to two incredible restaurants, the Long Pavillion for fine dining and the more casual Pebble Beach where Mr S and I had the best seafood platter of our lives. With its secluded location on the Northern most tip of Hamilton Island, qualia has welcomed many famous guests such as Leonardo di Caprio, Tobey Maguire, Oprah Winfrey and Taylor Swift.
2. Your own private beach
While staying at qualia, the team arranged for Mr S and I to experience their signature beach drop.
A speed boat spirited us away to a totally desert paradise beach, where a blanket and umbrellas had been set up for us as well as a gourmet picnic and local bottle of wine.
It was so romantic that Mr Silver later admitted that he almost chose that moment to propose to me…he didn’t but he got down one knee a week later in Sydney.
3. Go Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the biggest draws to visiting the Whitsunday Islands. It’s the world’s largest coral reef and home to a hugely diverse range of plant and animal life, beautiful coral formations, fish and larger mammals. Excursions can be arranged with Explore Group with snorkelling for novices (me) and diving for more experienced people (Mr S) including options for group trips or private charter. Seeing the beautiful colours and life of the Great Barrier Reef really is a once in a lifetime experience, and something I couldn’t miss, despite my fear of the sea.
4. Take a drive around the Island
While there are some cars on Hamilton Island, most people get around by golf buggy and if you’re staying at qualia, your club car comes included with the room. Outside of the resort there are other hotels and restaurants to explore as well as activities such as golf, bowling, tennis and a wildlife park. For shopping or casual dining, Mr S and I took our buggy for a spin to the Marina Village where we visited the ice cream parlour and checked out the swim wear boutiques. As the island is private and operates like one big complex, you can actually pay for things in the village and bill it to your room.
5. Take a champagne sunset cruise
A relaxing sail in qualia’s private charter is the perfect way to see the gorgeous sunset in the Whitsundays…
As soon as you step on to the yacht, you are handed a crisp glass of Veuve Cliquot and from there all you need to do is sit back, and admire the sun dipping below the horizon.
6. Dinner at The Yacht Club
The food at qualia is so good you may not want to try anywhere else, but if you do, Bommie at The Hamilton Island Yacht Club is the place to go. After qualia, it’s the best fine dining on the island with a menu of Australian cuisine using local and seasonal ingredients. A slightly more casual option in the centre of Hamilton Island Marina is Mariners which serves sumptuous seafood including huge hot or cold platters.
7. Drinks at One Tree Hill
Hamilton Island really is an idyllic place, which is why a position as caretaker of the island for six months was advertised at ‘The Best Job in the World.’ The job included a large salary and a multi-million dollar villa and duties were blogging and photo diaries…hang on a minute…I could do that….Unfortunately my application was rejected and the job went to Ben Southall from the UK.
To admire the best view-point of the island, a bar is set up at one of the pinnacles, One Tree Hill. Here you can enjoy a coffee at lunchtime or watch the sunset with a cocktail in the early evening. If you get too tipsy, the staff of qualia will come and collect you in the resort car and then pick up your buggy for you later.
8. A Seaplane to Whitehaven Beach
Mr S and I had a seaplane trip all booked to the fabled Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island…but on the day that we were set to go the heavens opened and it poured down with rain. Needless to say we were pretty gutted as Whitehaven is often described as the most beautiful beach in Australia with almost impossibly white sand.
If you don’t get thwarted like we did, definitely try to spend some time on the beach with a picnic, walking through the powdery sand and snorkelling in that turquoise ocean. If you don’t fancy the seaplane, the beach is only a 30 minute boat trip from Hamilton Island.
The spa at qualia is an absolute gem and the treatments use all natural Australian products in order to give the guests an authentic experience whilst rebalancing mind and body.
Massages, facials, manicures and spa packages are all available but guests can also try the Indigenous Offerings which use native ingredients to bring spiritual uplift and total relaxation. The spa itself is gorgeous with six treatment rooms, a steam room and an outdoor yoga pavilion – you’ll feel so at one with nature and you might even spot a wallaby! If you’re not staying at qualia, there is also the option of Spa wumurdaylin for authentic and soothing treatments or Island Hair and Beauty for pampering essentials.
10. Explore Nature and Wildlife
Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island in the Whitsunday but 70% of it remains untouched and natural.
With this being the case, it’s the ideal place to see incredible Australian wildlife such as wallabies, eagles, kites, cockatoos and kookaburras. A bush walk along one of the mapped out trails is a great way to explore the hidden coves and beautiful view points that the island has to offer and the hotel can put together a picnic to enjoy.
For kids there’s WILD LIFE Hamilton Island where they can get up close with snakes, lizards and kangaroos, and even have breakfast with a koala!
Have you ever been to the Great Barrier Reef? What would you do on a private island?