Hamilton Island is one Australia's finest tourist destinations – in fact, it is unique among islands off the country's eastern coast in that it is almost exclusively a tourism hotspot. The island itself is largely operated by Hamilton Island Enterprises, a family company with a long-term lease for the island from the Commonwealth Government.
The greatest attraction Hamilton Island has to offer, is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – one of the seven wonders of the natural world and a state icon of Queensland. As part of the Whitsunday Islands, there are multiple resorts, restaurants, and shops to be found throughout the area. Boats and ferries offer daily trips throughout the surrounding archipelago.
Many couples choose Hamilton Island for destination wedding ceremonies. In fact, every year the island hosts approximately 500 separate weddings – that's an average of ten weddings every weekend. The island is also a well-known yachting destination and take-off point, with some of Australia's most prestigious yachting clubs regularly hosting events, races, and more.
The island briefly made headlines in 2009 when the Queensland government posted classifieds ads for the role of island caretaker, offering a 6-figure salary and rent-free living in a three-bedroom island villa – at the time described as, "the best job in the world."
The weather in Hamilton Island is expectedly tropical. Thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, it shares weather patterns with much of the eastern coast of Australia. January and February are the hottest, wettest months, while the July to October dry period offers the mildest, most pleasant weather.
Most daily flights to Hamilton Island are from domestic locations, going through the island's Great Barrier Reef Airport. This airport handles a large number of flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Cairns. If you are planning on flying to Hamilton Island, there is a good chance you will have a layover in one of these Australian cities. Both Virgin Australia and QANTAS service Hamilton Island airport.
From Hamilton Island Airport, you can book additional flights to any of the surrounding islands in the region, or take a ferry to the closest ones. Many small islands in the area feature a single hotel resort that occupies the entire island. These are highly sought-after by tourists who value them for being cut-off from the rest of the world – perfect for a distraction-free holiday.
Private flights and charters frequently make their way to Hamilton Island via this airport. additionally, locally operated helicopters, light planes, and seaplanes use the airport's services. Conveniently, the airport is located only five minutes away from Hamilton Island's marina and the adjacent Whitehaven Beach.
There are many reasons tourists book flights to Hamilton Island. From taking glass-bottomed boat rides across the Great Barrier Reef to snorkeling and scuba diving into the azure wonder the reef offers, there is something for everyone. Kayaking is very popular here, as is hiking the island's interior and experiencing its amazing natural wonder firsthand.
Most resorts offer premium regional and international cuisine – mostly based on fresh-caught local seafood. Many visitors opt to rent boats, catch their own fish and have them prepared for dinner at the resort. If you rent a room with its own kitchen, you can even have groceries delivered and cook your own wild-caught fish. There is also a golf course on neighboring Dent island, only five minutes away by ferry boat.
There are a few notable taverns, bars, and cocktail lounges on the island – mostly based inside its opulent resorts. The island's nightlife is lively, thanks in no small part to the absence of automobiles – no cars means no need for a designated driver in Hamilton Island.
When visitors arrive in Hamilton Island for the first time, they usually notice something conspicuously absent from day-to-day life on the island. For some, it takes a few days for the realization to set in – there are no private cars on Hamilton Island. Free shuttle buses carry tourists from all of the island's most important destinations – there is no need for private vehicles here.
This gives the island a unique, tranquil ambience that few places in the world can match. While tourists can explore the island at their own pace by renting a buggy – essentially a modified golf cart – you will see no passenger cars, no taxis, no limousines, and no automobile pollution on the island. ATV tours do exist, and you can rent them right outside the airport if you choose.
Nevertheless, getting around in Hamilton Island is surprisingly easy. Two Island Shuttle service lines operate every day from 6:50 AM to 11:00 PM, running every 15 to 45 minutes on routes that encircle the island.
Due to the island's small size, many people choose to remain on foot and simply walk from one destination to another – crossing the island diagonally from the South East Head to its northernmost point at Pebble Beach takes less than 90 minutes at a regular pace. The island's central belt has most of its restaurants, hotels, and ferry companies all located within minutes of one another.
Hamilton Island Airport is a small facility with just three gates. The airport does not use jet bridges, and boarding is done via portable air-stairs. The terminal itself features a restaurant, a café and small retail shop.