Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island on the Whitsundays and ranks as one of Australia’s most renowned holiday destinations. With its heavenly location in the heart of the Whitsundays, it’s the perfect starting point to explore both the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach.
When planning for this family getaway, several friends recommended we travel elsewhere, suggesting that the island should be discovered without kids. I’m confident that this post, about our recent stay, will convince you that Hamilton Island is, in fact, the perfect destination for a family holiday.
Travelling from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island was very straight forward and hassle-free, the trip took approximately 1 hour with a short stop at Daydream Island to let passengers on and of. We booked our tickets the night before through Cruise Whitsundays, they offer 4 – 5 island transfers daily. The tickets weren’t cheap, costing $234 one way for our family of 5. The option to fly direct is also available from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns but we were already holidaying at the Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort on Airlie Beach. They do have some snacks available to purchase on the boat or why not start your vacay a little earlier and enjoy a champagne 🥂
Pulling into the Hamilton Island Marina instantly makes you feel like you are a million miles away and the first thing you notice is that there are NO cars just lots of families driving around in cute little buggies. The change of pace instantly puts you in holiday mode. The Marina has all the facilities you need, whether you’re visiting for the day, enjoying resort living or parking your boat at the marina dock for a night or two. As you will see on the map, everything is easily accessible once you arrive; showers, toilets, laundry facilities, IGA supermarket, bottle shop, Post Office, ATMs as well as plenty of delicious dine-in or take out options.
As we stepped off the boat, we were greeted by friendly staff and taken directly to our hotel. What an easy transition that was… no taxis, no bookings – this was all included in our accommodation at The Reef View Hotel. Straight away, we felt comfort in seeing the streets filled with families and young kids, we were so excited for the week ahead. Check-in was quick and easy and the reception staff were super helpful with advice on where to go and what to do as first-timers on the island. Our luggage was taken straight to our room and within the hour we were down by the pool eating lunch and enjoying a delicious cocktail 🧉🍸 thank goodness, it had been a long morning!
We stayed 6 nights and paid $371.20 a night for the Reef Family Room in early March, the room configuration was perfect for us. The adjoining, yet separate bedrooms – one master suite with two queen beds, and a junior room with two single beds (which we pushed together) and Ariel in a provided cot next to our bed. The living room was attached to the master suite and provided enough space for the kids to play. Off the master suite, was a large balcony overlooking the beautiful Whitsundays, often alsoshowcasing between 5-15 hangry cockatoos, this was certainly a highlight for the boys!!
TIP 1- As tempting as it is, do not feed the cockatoos.. they will continue to come back with ALL their friends and will make it very hard to enjoy a morning or afternoon on the balcony.
TIP 2- The Resort offers a selection of convenient shopping items (eg. nappies) which you can purchase, as well as free items upon request (eg.pram). These can be ordered in advance so that they’re in your room when you arrive. Once you’ve received confirmation on your booking this option should come up!
All guests on the island have access to the three main swimming pools. Dolphin Pool is attached to Sails restaurant (substantially smaller than the others), Main Pool is the largest on the Island with a swim-up bar serving cocktails, mocktails, beer/wine and canned spirits but unfortunately no happy hour 😩 Then there is the Bougainvillea Pool which is by far the most family-friendly option, with its lagoon-style design you’re sure to find families relaxing here. The Bougainvillea is beachside and offers a shallow end with plenty of shady spots to protect the family from the sun. Be sure to wear your sandals, as the concrete gets extremely hot!! All pools are approximately 200m from the resort, offering stunning views and access to the beautiful Catseye Beach.
Reef View hotel also has its own pool, exclusively for hotel guests. We spent most of our time there as it made it a little easier to manage nap time. The pool is located right next to the bar/restaurant which offers poolside service.. a huge positive when travelling with little ones!
If you are looking to spend a day on the sand, Catseye beach is only a short walk from most of the Island’s accommodation and is the perfect spot to lay a towel down or make use of one of the sun lounges or hammocks available. The water is generally quite flat and clear, if you’re feeling adventurous you can hire all your Watersport equipment and stinger suits from the little beach shack out the front of the ‘Main Pool’. Stinger suits are suggested from November to May as this is termed ‘high season’ for marine stingers, however, we were there in March and most people enjoyed a splash without a suit.
If the above hasn’t sold you yet, kids eat free when dining with their parents at a large selection of restaurants on Hamilton Island. Depending on which hotel you are staying at, you may also have access to the free buffet breakfast offered at the main hotels. Most mornings we would walk across the road and enjoy the buffet at ‘sails restaurant’ as the view was spectacular and they had a little more variety of fresh fruit and the omelette bar was delicious!!
After a full day of swimming and lots of walking, dinner time was always a lot earlier than back home. We would get dressed up, jump on the free island shuttle, which operates daily between the marina and resort centre, then wander around the marina while we decided where to eat. We favoured one particular restaurant Pizzeria and Gelato Bar as it was very family-friendly, loud and more of a casual style dining. The gourmet pizza was AMAZING and the choice of 30 gelato flavours for dessert was a no brainer, we must have eaten there 3 out of the 6 nights!! Unfortunately, there was no air-conditioning in the restaurant which was tough on the warmer nights but there are plenty of picnic tables out the front by the water as a takeaway option.
Tip- The Herbivore pizza and the cookies and cream Gelato are a must-have!!
Marina Tavern was another great option, with a very laid-back, relaxed and family-friendly feel with generous sized pub-style meals. Both of the above restaurants were very reasonably priced which is always a bonus.
While Hamilton Island has a bunch of family-friendly activities, we wanted to take a few hours of solo mum and dad time to experience the other side of the island, so we decided to book the boys into Clownfish Club. This was the first time we separated during our trip and we figured it was the perfect way to spend the last afternoon of our three week magical family holiday. The club caters for all ages – from 6 weeks to 14 years of age with lots of exciting activities, jumping castle and water play and the boys came home with cute animal faces! it was a HUGE hit and the boys were talking about it for days! We booked in for the half-day- afternoon session from 1.30 pm until 5 pm for $185 ( a little exy I know) but the boys had such a great time that I think we will do a full day next time or a couple of half-day sessions. While the boys were at the club hubby and I hired a buggy and explored the whole Island. Unfortunately, to do this with the kids we would have had to hire two separate buggies. maybe next time! It was magical.. not just the alone time but all the hidden beauty within the island that we hadn’t yet had a chance to discover. We were told by many friends and family that we MUST spend an afternoon at One Tree Hill sipping delicious cocktails and watching the sunset over the Whitsunday Islands. We did, and they were right! What an unforgettable experience and one better suited without the kids to truly appreciate the beautiful hilltop lookout.
I hope this has given you plenty of reason to visit Hamilton Island with the kids because we truly had a magical time. I wouldn’t change a thing from our trip however I think I would like to experience one of the newly renovated, self-contained private island palm bungalows next time we visit. This would still give us access to all resort facilities but would also provide extra space and a kitchenette. The option to prepare some meals would be handy and a potential cost saver.
Thank you for all the incredible memories Hamilton Island, we hope to be back sooner than later!!
The Wannabe Nomads 🌸
If you find any of this helpful or you have any questions please comment below, and if you stay at any of our recommended holiday spots PLEASE tag us @wannabe.nomads we would love to hear all about your family travels!!