Exploring Hamilton Island: 5 Must-Do Activities

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Hot off the press: Five Things you must do while exploring Hamilton Island

A visit to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, should be at the top of every adventure traveler’s bucket list.  The reef, spread over 1400 miles, is home to the world’s most diverse plant and animal life – a nature-lover’s paradise.  Unfortunately, due to climate change and other concerns, the reef may not survive in all of its spectacular glory.  Now is the time to plan a once-in-a-lifetime visit to this stunning natural wonder and there is no better spot to start than on Hamilton Island. Let’s start exploring Hamilton Island and everything this stunning landscape has to offer.

About 15 of the 900 islands scattered about the reef offer accommodations, but Hamilton Island takes the cake when it comes to luxury, exclusivity and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. Hamo, as it’s called by the Queenslander locals, is privately owned by a renowned Australian winemaker. He fell in love with the island while sailing his yacht in the Whitsundays. Only a third of the island has been developed, providing for spectacular views of the surrounding ocean. Furthermore, this leaves plenty of opportunities to engage in nature at its finest. There are no cars allowed on the island. Private resorts provide guests with a personal golf cart to discover all that Hamilton Island has to offer.  Here are my top five recommendations for making the most of your time while exploring Hamilton Island!

Exploring Hamilton Island



Whitehaven Beach is consistently rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  This is as pristine and exclusive as it gets.  The sand, mostly silica, is as soft as cotton and blindingly white, hence the name.  Interestingly, the sand does not retain heat, which allows for hours spent enjoying the sunshine and gorgeous views.

The most exhilarating and picturesque way to get to Whitehaven is to charter a private helicopter from Hamilton Island Air. As soon as the helicopter takes off, you’re sure to be impressed by the many shades of blue and green surrounding the island.  The flight itself takes about fifteen minutes, soaring above the breathtaking landscape, and swooping over Hill Inlet.  Dolphins, whales, and even sharks are visible as the helicopter descends to land directly on the beach.

This once-in-a-lifetime tour includes a private picnic set up. Plan to explore the shore while your pilot prepares the perfect setting to indulge. This includes champagne, fruit, and a selection of cheeses on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Make sure to plan your trip around the boat tour schedules and you and your companion may just have Whitehaven all to yourselves.


The easiest way to explore Hamilton Island is by golf cart.  Be sure to keep your cart charged so that you can take off on a moment’s notice, as there’s always something to see.  After a day basking on Cats Eye Beach, golfing at the Hamilton Island Country Club, or enjoying a spa treatment, make sure to be one of the first to arrive at One Tree Hill. You will want to secure the best seats in house for the most spectacular sunset you may ever see.  Although Hamilton Island is not typically congested, the sunsets here are not to be missed so it can get crowded!

This Hamilton Island bar provides 360 degree views of the island, and is uniquely positioned to enjoy the oranges, pinks, and purples of the setting sun.  Grab your love and a specially crafted cocktail, sit back, relax, and take it all in.


One of my favorite ways to explore Hamilton Island – or any beach destination – is by paddleboard.  You’ll love stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, at Cat’s Eye Beach as it affords one of the best up-close-and-personal views of the many turtles, rays, and tropical fish that surround Hamilton Island.  Paddleboard rentals are available at the dive shop located right on the beachfront.  If you’ve never done SUP, the staff will be sure to offer you a quick lesson to get you up and moving in no time.  If you like to stay active while on holiday, SUP is the perfect way to engage with nature and enjoy a rejuvenating workout without wasting precious vacation hours at the gym.


Who doesn’t want to get up close and personal with a cute, cuddly baby koala?!  Unique wildlife experiences are not to be missed as you explore Hamilton Island.  Located in the center of the island, WILD LIFE Hamilton Island offers guests the chance to get to know one of Australia’s most-loved animals.  For my visit, this included newborn baby koalas!

While you enjoy a made-to-order breakfast, a handful of adorable koala bears occupy themselves by munching on and moving about the various eucalyptus trees located throughout the dining area.  After eating, each visitor has the opportunity to hold one of the animals with a caretaker’s assistance.  My koala (aptly named “Oprah” after the host featured Hamilton Island on her show) was shy but incredibly sweet!

Make sure that you book “Breakfast with the Koalas” in advance if you are visiting during the high season, as this extraordinary experience books up quickly!  As a bonus, you might just get lucky and see one of the wild wallabies that live on the island!


Finally, no journey to Hamilton Island is complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef! From Hamilton, there are myriad options available for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. These include sea plane tours, helicopter fly-overs, ferries, and even overnights on the reef!  Many of the flyovers include a view of gorgeous Heart Reef, a heart-shaped coral reef popular for in-flight proposals. Book one or more of these unforgettable experiences directly through Hamilton Island’s Tours and Activities center located at the main marina.

During my visit, I chose to take a boat to the nearby Hardy Reef (remember, there are over 2900 individual reef areas to choose from) for a full day of snorkeling. When you reach Hardy Reef, the boat will dock at a unique structure positioned in the shallow waters surrounding the reef. This offers snorkelers and divers protected access to the best wildlife viewing, as well as deck chairs and a café. This is the perfect spot to catch your breath between dives. Marine biologists are there studying the reef right along with visitors, answering questions and pointing out hard-to-find coral.

Snorkeling on Hardy Reef was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life, and the highlight of my trip to Hamilton Island.  The quantity and variety of fish present was mind-blowing, even for someone who has snorkeled on other large reefs like those found in Mexico. My most memorable experience was petting an enormous Maori Wrasse, that was extremely curious about my presence, like a dog!  What a dream for an animal lover like me!

Exploring Hamilton Island is both an adventurous and luxurious experience. It is a trip that you will be sure to remember fondly for a lifetime.

BONUS TIP: If you’re looking to uncover islands closer to home that offer spectacular snorkeling and uniquely luxurious experiences, be sure to check out our recommendations for exploring the British Virgin Islands.   

Celeste Leich
Celeste Leich
If it's adrenaline-pumping it's on her list! If it involves animals, it's at the top! Celeste is an adventure junkie who loves exploring off-the-beaten path locations and local culture, but won't pass up being primped and pampered at the most luxurious and exclusive resorts. Celeste works in the U.S. defense industry when she's not exploring, and is a single mom to a four year old ball of energy. Follow her on Instagram @celesteleich
Showing 4 comments
  • Julia

    Great read!! Makes me want to go. Good suggestions!

    • Celeste Leich

      I’m so glad you checked out my post Julia!!! Thank you!

  • Elizabeth Greeno

    This is an amazing blog post / article….what an incredible adventure…:)

    • Celeste Leich

      I can’t wait to share more with you, thanks for reading ❤️

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