Hamilton Island is part of Australia's Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, and is known as the commercial centre for the area thanks to its close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.
While lovely, Hamilton Island is a bit manufactured; what I mean by that is most everything is owned and run by one company. Though there are restaurants of different cuisines, many food and beverage items cross-over from menu to menu. It's still a magical place, though!
The island is mostly car-free. Our accommodations included a "buggy" for transport around the island. What fun! Seat belts must be worn, driver's licenses are required, and each buggy is registered / plated.
|Though the driver sits on the left-hand side, they also drive on the left-hand side! Those are some serious right turns.|
|A boat bringing a box truck full of island supplies|
|Beautiful sunset + buggy parking|
Our first full day was a ~3 hour boat ride from Hamilton Island to the Heart Pontoon above Hardy Reef. (It should be noted here, the Great Barrier Reef is a collection of *thousands* of smaller reefs; Hardy Reef is one of the reefs that makes up the GBR.)
|Cruise Whitsundays, who provided this map, took us to Hardy Reef.|
Once aboard the boat to the pontoon, the sales pitch began - underwater camera hire, upgraded snorkel gear, photos, SCUBA lessons and first dives, helicopter rides and much more.
Nani and I took the plunge and signed up for SCUBA lessons and were able to do our first dive at the Reef. Incredible! I personally didn't care much for the sensation of SCUBA, but the sights were awesome. Giant, colourful fish swimming all around! Oh my!
|Ready to test my SCUBA skills!|
|Nani with a humphead wrasse fish!|
The ride back to "Hamo" was equally as treacherous as the way out to the pontoon. And it was cold! M and I cuddled up in towels and dozed off for a bit.
Day three included a bit of R&R. The boys went to the clownfish club and had a great day - scavenger hunts, the amazing race, loads of activities, sport, and fun all day!
The ladies had lunch, shopped a bit around town and went to the spa.
The men had a chance to play 18 holes at the Hamilton Island Golf Club. Papi noted it was one of the more difficult courses he's played.
Day four was another full day! We visited Chalkies Beach, hiked to hill inlet, snorkeled the coral gardens and walked along Whitehaven beach. We also saw the beach where a few scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed. I swear there were more stops than just those on our itinerary -- it felt like we were on and off the boat all day and hardly had a chance to enjoy much.
|Hill inlet photo op|
|The boys rocking the stinger suits|
|How cute are Nani and Papi? They went snorkeling off the back of the boat!|
Day five was departure day. We snuck in a quick morning visit to WILDLIFE Hamilton Island. A few mornings per week, visitors can pay a small fee to hold a koala. Queensland is the only state in Australia where visitors can hold koalas. (It can be quite disruptive for the koalas sleep cycles; the staff at WILDLIFE Hamilton Island assured me their koalas are rotated and held only when they're awake -- but you have to be careful to hold them almost uncomfortably so they don't snooze on you.)
From our koala encounter, we raced to the airport and set off for Hobart, Tasmania! Read about that next time!