Everyone has seen the photos of Whitsundays over instagram, it looks incredible with sand for days. I have always wanted to visit but wondered how feasible it would be in terms of cost and time.
Most of us will visit Australia for two or three weeks at most due to limited annual leave. There is also so much to see in Australia that you don’t want to limit yourself to one destination. From large cities like Sydney and Melbourne, to the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns or the Wineries around Perth. How do we fit it all in? And is Whitsundays worth the visit for the perfect postcard photo?
Let me tell you it is, and you can do it in 48 hours too!
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How to get there:
I would recommend basing yourself on Hamilton Island. Hamilton Island is part of the Whitsunday islands. Not only is it easy to get to from the Whitsundays but the island in itself is an experience!
There are daily flights to Hamilton Island from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The main operators are Qantas, Jet Star and Virgin Australia.
I flew on Virgin Australia, as I arrived from London on Virgin Atlantic and wanted to get the points! I do recommend them however both airlines are slightly separate which I didn’t realise! So make sure you give a bit of extra time at the airport if you book your Hamilton flights as a connection from Virgin Atlantic.
Once landing in Hamilton, all the resorts are about a 5-10 minute drive which is super convenient. There is something about a long connection when you land at a new place that drags the journey.
All the resorts are owned by Hamilton island which means there is free transportation (bus) all over the island. On arrival ask the airport staff, which will point you to the free airport shuttle which will drop you off directly at your hotel. Too easy!
One thing I would mention is that there are no AirBnbs, as the island is owned by one company. Therefore, to stay here does require some advance booking and does get booked up quickly. I booked 3 months advance and there were very few rooms left.
Why Hamilton Island
1 The island is super convenient to do half day and day trips excursions to other Whitsunday Islands.
2 Landing on this island is a surreal experience and apparently on of the worlds shortest runways.
3 It is super convenient, the entire island is operated by one company so there is a shuttle bus provided free of charge from the airport to all the hotels. There are also shuttle buses to all the various attractions on the island. Golf buggies are also available to rent. There are over 20 restaurants on the island and other shops. You can pay at all the shops apart from the supermarket with your hotel key card. So you don’t have to worry about carrying cash with you!
48 hour itinerary
Day 1: Arrival into Whitsundays, sunbathing and sunset at One Tree Hill
We took the 9:50am Virgin Atlantic flight out of Sydney which arrived into Hamilton at 11:20am. By the time we got off the flight, collected bags, got onto the bus, we arrived at the hotel around 12 noon.
On arrival, I was staying at the Reef View hotel. Once checked in, went to see our room to drop off the bags and get changed out of aeroplane gear into something more beach appropriate! The hotel room had a view of the beach and ocean which was spectacular. We also booked a half day excursion at Whitehaven Beach also part of Whitsundays (see day 2) activity for details.
Once changed, went to check out the restaurant by the beach called the beach club restaurant to have a few nibbles. Then spent the rest of the afternoon lying on deckchairs by the beach. I ended up falling asleep for a few hours, there is something about lying on the beach with the sounds of the waves that brings a complete sense of relaxation.
Afterwards, went back to the room to freshen up for dinner. The island has quite a few trails for some adrenaline junkies out there. We found a relatively short hike that takes you up to a view point called One Tree Hill. Here there were lots of other people here to check out the pink hues of the sunset. It was one of the highlights so do not miss this! Make sure you check at the hotel the time of sunset so you can plan your excursion.
If you don’t want to walk, the public bus also goes up to this point or rent a golf cart up to this point. If I were to do this again, I would also plan a picnic as there are lots of benches at the top of the hill.
At One Tree Hill there is a bar selling drinks to enjoy whilst watching the sunset. They had Happy Hour which included $5 Frose – a lovely drink which is a frozen rose!! We could pay with our keycards all over the island which is great so you don’t have to carry cash around.
Afterwards, walked down to the marina area which has lots of restaurants and shops. We tried Marina Bay Restaurant where we shared Pizzas, wine and watched the world go by.
Day 2: Excursion to Whitehaven Beach, Snorkelling, Sailing and Picnic at the Marina
Woke up bright and early for our half day excursion that left Hamilton at 9am. This was a half day excursion that cost $80 which is about 40 pounds. We headed down to the marina which is a 10 minute walk from the hotel and grabbed a bite next door at Bob’s Bakery. They have a wide range of breakfast takeaway options including pastries, sandwiches and drinks.
Then checked into our tour, which included selecting our flippers and mask for snorkelling and our lifejacket size. We then proceeded onto the boat, which looked like a bright red inflatable which seemed a bit different and fun.
The first stop of the tour was Chalkies beach which was incredible. It was white sand for days. Here we spent an hour snorkelling. We were all provided with a stinger suit as well, as this area of Australia is known for bad jelly fish stings. Though the tour guide can advise which time of the year has the worst jellyfish, you might be able to get away with not wearing one. The tour provided soft drinks and water.
The next stop is Whitehaven Beach – this is well known and people travel from all around the world to visit this beach, iconic for the Whitsundays. Yes, I will say that the beach is a beautiful 4km stretch of sand, but due to how infamous it is, the beach can get quite busy. It is definitely worth visiting, but an hour here was enough to visits. I actually preferred Chalkies beach as it was empty and just as pristine.
Once back on the island went back to the deckchairs by the beach of the hotel. This beach had a range of water-sports including sailing, snorkelling, stand-up paddle board, kayaks etc. We rented a sail boat which can be taken out on one hour stints. I had never been on a sail boat before, therefore it was a lot of fun. I have never sailed before, but luckily my boyfriend is a big fan and I could sit and relax, to some degree… I left him to the sailboat later in the day, which ended up with a mini capsize! Apparently it is much easier with two people as it distributes the weight better.
The only place on the island where your keycard cannot be used is the supermarket which is also situated on the far side of the marina. For the evening, thought it would be fun to have a picnic on the benches by the marina.
Day 3: Final day
Our flight back was at 2.15pm on Jetstar airways. This left the morning to enjoy Hamilton Island before leaving.
I had a wonder around some of the boutiques around the marina for some presents. Also enjoyed another hour of sun and beach. Not everyday you get to be in the sun, especially living in London, so had to make the most of it 🙂
I really enjoyed visiting the Whitsundays and thought it was a great addition to the trip.
Watch this space for my Sydney and Melbourne segments of this trip. See my other trips this year in 2018 in Review.