36 Hours in Hamilton Island

36 Hours in Hamilton Island

Call me crazy,

but before Ashley + I started planning our trip to Australia I really hadn’t heard much about Hamilton Island, or the Whitsundays, and y’all, I’m here to tell you that I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. And if you haven’t heard much about it, either, well, then, I’m afraid you’ve been missing out, too. It is just breathtakingly gorgeous, and we didn’t even come at the best time of year (as you can probably see from my photos, it was pretty gray/cloudy/stormy while we were there, but more on that below) or make it to the infamous Whitehaven Beach (Incentive to plan a trip back, right?!). Outside of it being a stunning place, I have a lot of mixed feelings, thoughts and (maybe unpopular?) opinions about the rest of the island. Don’t worry, you know I’m sharing every last one of them below, along with our exact itinerary for our 36 hours in Hamilton Island, so keep on scrolling…

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7am Leave Airlie Beach {we flew into Proserpine from Brisbane the night before + spent the evening in Airlie Beach}

8am Arrive on Hamilton Island

8:15am Drop off bags to be stored for the day {most of the companies that run excursions have places for bag storage}

8:30pm Grab coffee + a quick bite at Bob’s Bakery

9:00am Board for an all-day excursion with Explore Group to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef {highly recommend this company…they had the best price for the best tour, they took us to such a great snorkeling spots, they were super friendly + they have options that leave from both Airlie Beach + Hamilton Island}

4:30pm Back to the island to check into our hotel (which I will not be sharing the name of because I was not a fan…a few other options to check out- Palm Bungalows, Qualia or Beach Club + Airbnb also has a few listings)

4:45pm Freshen up + change for dinner

6:00pm Evening walk {keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos and cockatoos} before heading to Coca Chu for food and drinks {I’d suggest making reservations if you want a table, otherwise you can order bites at the bar, which is what we did. We ordered the tiger prawn, cuttlefish and chicken wings, all really yummy!}

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7am Early morning beach walk

8am Coffee + breakfast at Marina Cafe {tbh, I would skip Bob’s and just come here instead}

9:00am Hang out at Catseye beach

12:00pm Grab a tropical drink at the Island Bar + a light bite at Sails take away counter to enjoy on the beach

1:00pm Head to the airport to catch a flight back to Sydney

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We visited in the beginning of March, just as the island was heading into its wet season. While we didn’t get totally rained on the whole trip, there were a couple of quick showers, as well as a storm that caused our snorkeling trip to be cut a bit short, and we didn’t get to catch a sunset because it was cloudy. If we had a few more days there, I wouldn’t have minded, but it was a bit of a damper, given our short stay. Also, because wet season is also their off-season, it seemed like lots of the restaurants we’re closed down for the season/closed for repairs. Just a few things to keep in mind if you’re trying to figure out the best time to plan your own trip there. Also, as an FYI, I’ve heard September is the best time to visit.


To get here, you can fly directly to Hamilton Island Airport (Quantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar all offer flights in and out of the island), or you can fly to Proserpine Airport (Airlie Beach) and take a ferry from Airlie Beach. If you’re ferrying over, be sure to coordinate times correctly. There is only one shuttle from the airport into Airlie Beach, and you should plan on it taking at least 60-90 minutes to get from the airport to town. There is also only one ferry company, and the last ferry of the day is at 3:50pm (depending on the day). Prices of ferry tickets vary depending on the season.


The airport on the island is close and small (as is to be expected), so it doesn’t take long to get to and from it (about 5-10 minutes) and it doesn’t take long to check into flights, either (again, about 5-10 minutes). In other words, soak up all the beach time you can instead of rushing to get to the airport 2 hours ahead of time. Just a note on luggage- because the planes are smaller, the luggage allowances are also much smaller (they barely even allow you to carry on a small purse), so keep this in mind when packing, or you may find yourself paying more than the actual plane ticket just to check all your luggage.


Hamilton Island is a {mostly} car free location, save for a few service vehicles. To get around, there is a public bus, a shuttle service {which everyone said you had to pay for but we never got charged…the drivers didn’t even want to accept tips! Also, worth noting that our shuttle drivers were two of the handful of actually nice people on the island.}, you can rent a golf cart, or, you can simply just walk {the majority of things are in close proximity to each other}.


We booked everything only a few days before without issue (probably because it was the off-season) but I recommend booking things in advance, especially with excursions, as those do fill up quickly, and reservations, as dining options are limited.


Again, since the island has a reputation of exclusivity you might think it would be hard to find a reasonably priced place to stay there. However, I’m happy to report there are options for all price ranges, from cottages to Airbnbs, to hotels right on the beach to super luxe accommodations on the opposite side of the island.

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Have you been to Hamilton Island, or ever heard of it? Is it on your travel bucket list?

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Check out Whitehaven Beach, Kayak, take a sunset champagne cruise, go on an ATV excursion, hire a dinghy for the day, go for a scenic flight over the Whitsundays Islands, go on one of the many boat excursions, hang out with sea turtles, go for a hike


Bommie’s, Clubhouse Restaurant and One Tree Hill


There is a grocery shop, so I’d highly recommend that as an option for picking up snacks and/or food for a picnic or to cook your own meals, as I found the food options to be a bit limited on the island.


This island is built for tourism. It is a resort island. Very few people even live on the island full time. Hence, it feels exactly like what you’d expect from a resort, whether in things like the limited dining options, or the amount of kids running around. Neither of these are a problem, per se. However, Hamilton Island does has have a reputation of exclusivity, so when you arrive and it feels kind of like any other resort island, it’s a little disappointing.


There is some really awesome wildlife on the island. I mean honestly, I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. Cockatoos are basically the local version of NYC’s pigeons, and just like pigeons, they aren’t afraid to get up close and personal. There are also all kinds of other gorgeous parrots and birds, snakes (we saw a very large, but thankfully very dead, one on the beach), and, my favorite, the wallabies. They were literally everywhere, even at night (so be careful when walking around in the evening. They seemed very unbothered and used to humans and really only seemed to care about eating grass! Ha!


I might get a bit of flack for saying this, but you come to me for honesty, so honesty you will get. Out of everywhere we went in Australia, this was the only place where we dealt with some pretty rude people. Not everyone was rude, there were still plenty of friendly Aussies, but it was pretty shocking that the place that runs primarily for tourism is where we had our only unfriendly encounters of the whole trip.

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