Often described as the gateway to the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is the ideal tropical island destination – complete with groovy bars, waterfront restaurants, million dollar yachts, a sparkling marina and an 18-hole golf course. The island is the platform for many adventures on the Great Barrier Reef such as scuba driving, sailing, snorkelling and heli-touring. Highlights include the Hamilton Island Golf Club, a championship 18-hole course on nearby Dent Island, the luxury day spa at qualia, Hamilton’s exclusive resort, and the Yacht Club, a futuristic structure which houses a fantastic cocktail bar and upmarket restaurant. Kid’s activities include art classes, tenpin bowling, jetski tours, wakeboarding, quad-biking and mini golf.
Who goes there: Seabourn Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Crystal Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises.
Cruisers like: Exploring the island is fun. Hop into your golf buggy and drive to One Tree Hill which provides panoramic ocean views. Then head down to Front Street, a buzzy food and retail precinct near the marina. This is a great place for a quick breakfast or a relaxed lunch before joining a helicopter flight across the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach. Alternatively, hop aboard one of the island’s purpose-built catamarans for a spot of diving on the reef. Reef fish, groupers, turtles and manta rays are just some of the creatures to be seen in these waters. Snorkelling and diving gear is supplied.
Best for: Honeymooners, underwater enthusiasts, sailor, golfers and families with young children.
Getting around: Cruise ships moor offshore. Guests are taken by tender to shore. The easiest way to get around the island is by golf buggy – but these are in high demand, so book ahead. A free bus service operates.