Listen up, folks! There is SO much more to Australia than just kangaroos and koalas. Don’t misunderstand me…I am probably as fascinated about those cuddly koalas and mobs of joey-toting kangaroos as you are, but my recent trip to Australia, fortunately, was long enough for me to discover parts and aspects of this magnificent country that I hadn’t seen during my previous trips there. If you’re wondering what I am talking about read on.
I had the privilege of travelling to what is, in my opinion, one of the most stunning spots in all of the southern hemisphere — Hamilton Island Australia. Think clear blue skies, the azure ocean all around you, pristine beaches, and a string of untouched islands a short boat ride away. That’s what you’re signing up for. This idyllic, private island is situated at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef…yes, you read that right, the Great Barrier Reef, the most spectacular natural wonder ever known to mankind. Hamilton Island is part of the Whitsunday Islands, a group of islands located off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It is also considered to be the commercial capital of the group of islands and is the only island here with a commercial airport. I spent three days of sheer bliss at Hamilton Island.
So here is part one of our ‘Ten Reasons to Visit Hamilton Island Australia’ feature. Enjoy the read.
1. A Spectacular Arrival – I have travelled the world extensively and landed at some of the globe’s most exotic airports. But I have to say that landing into Hamilton Island has got to be one of the most exhilarating and breathtaking experiences ever. It’s a quick two-hour flight across from Sydney and even less if you’re flying from Brisbane or Cairns. I flew a Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 equipped with wifi steamed entertainment. Basically, this airplane has no seat-back screens. The entertainment is streamed to your personal phone, tablet or laptop through the onboard wifi system. Pretty impressive, huh? As we began our descent for the island I was faced with the most breathtaking views ever. As the airplane approaches the island, all you can see below is the blue sea, corals through the transparent waters and clusters of stunning islands. The plane gets closer to the water and then all of a sudden, just when you think you might have to brace for an aircraft ditching on water, the landing strip appears below you and it’s Touchdown Hamilton Island. As an airplane geek, I think I could probably come to Hamilton Island only to experience this approach and landing.
2. A Small Treat Sized Island – When you travel anywhere, you would expect to land into an airport, no matter how small it is and get into a car or a van that transfers you to your hotel. I stepped out of my aircraft, the arrival exit of the airport was a few feet away (literally a few feet away) and I was absolutely shocked (in a good way, of course) when my buddy TJ Edwards, the dashing social media manager of the island who came to give me a personal welcome at arrivals, whisked me off to my hotel…not in a limousine…not in a Rolls…not in a helicopter…but in a golf buggy!!! I AND…I was told that if I didn’t want to hop onto the buggy, I could have even strolled across to my hotel. How awesome is that! My very own F1 car
3. Give Me Golf Buggies Over Cars Any Day : After the chaos and traffic mayhems of Sydney, it was nice to see the streets — correction, charming pathways — of Hamilton Island to be almost car-free. Barring the occasional hotel car, used by the staff for service purposes, everyone walks around the island or uses these eco-friendly buggies. My wheels for the day was this sporty buggy, driven by TJ, who took me on a panoramic tour of the island, just so that I could get some cool pics for my readers. I’d trade any luxury car for this buggy. A fresh new perspective on things.
4. Rocking On The Great Barrier Reef: This world-famous natural wonder really needs no introduction. Except that Hamilton Island is actually the best place to base yourself if you want to explore the Great Barrier Reef. There are high speed boats, helicopters and private yachts that go out to the reef every day. Reefworld Whitsunday Islands is a private pontoon, a platform of sorts, built in the middle of the sea, where you can spend the day exploring the magnificent coral reefs. Scuba, snorkel, seaplane et al. There’s a whole blogpost on the Great Barrier Reef so watch this space.
5. Superlative Luxury: If you’re a luxury junkie like I am, you will be happy to know that the hotel voted by Conde Nast Traveller magazine as Best Resort in the World for 2012 is situated right here on Hamilton Island. The uber chic Qualia resort is tucked away discreetly in the northern corner of the island and features a bunch of ‘pavillions’ (who even uses the word suites anymore anyway??). If you’re a guest at Qualia, look over your shoulder, for you just might have a Hollywood celebrity sipping a cocktail on the deckchair next to yours (this place is a regular haunt with A-list celebs, from what I hear). And for the hefty price you’re paying for a pavilion, expect a dedicated concierge staff, a golf buggy at your disposal, a private plunge pool (in some upper end pavilions) and access to the hotel’s discreet poolside lounge and deck overlooking the ocean and the neighbouring islands.