The largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island has some of the best beach resorts in the Pacific, right on the cusp of the Great Barrier Reef. Famed for its luxury resorts and water sports, stunning views await at every turn—pristine white sands, lush rain forest, and an endless expanse of glittering ocean.
Aside from being a popular vacation spot, Hamilton Island makes a strategic basecamp for exploring Whitsunday Islands or cruising the Great Barrier Reef.
Most visitors opt for half- and full-day cruises from Port Airlie, which include beach time at Hamilton Island and a stop at Whitehaven Beach in neighboring Whitsunday Island. Island tours typically take in highlights, such as Catseye Beach, Passage Peak, Wild Life Hamilton Island park, and One Tree Hill.
Things to Know Before You Go
- No cars are allowed on Hamilton Island, but golf buggies are available to rent and a free shuttle bus runs to locations, including Catseye Beach, Front Street, and Marina Village.
- The island has numerous bars and restaurants, most of which are around Catseye Beach and Hamilton Island Marina.
- Pack sunscreen, a hat, and your swimsuit—most tours include free time at the beach.
- A motorized raft tour means you can explore protected areas in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and reach the best snorkeling spots.
- Some boats and tours are wheelchair accessible. Beach wheelchairs are available to rent from the resorts.
How to Get to There
Hamilton Island—south of Whitsunday Island in the Whitsundays archipelago,—is the only one of the islands with its own airport, Great Barrier Reef Airport. Regular direct flights run from Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney, and Melbourne, and most resorts offer airport shuttles. Alternatively, ferries and boat tours leave from Airlie Beach to Hamilton.
When to Get There
You can visit Hamilton any time of year, but the most popular time is summer (January and February) when it’s advisable to book flights, tours, and accommodation in advance. Average day temperatures are still 73°F (23°C) in winter, making it possible to swim and snorkel year-round. This is also the time to spot migrating whales along the coast.
Outdoor Activities on Hamilton Island
Hamilton’s biggest draw is its beaches, and there are plenty of options for water sports, including paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and jet-skiing. Alternatively, take a hike to Passage Peak, join an island-hopping cruise, or watch the sunset over the coast at One Tree Hill. There’s also the Hamilton Island Golf Club, a go-kart course, and a kid’s fun zone at Catseye Beach.