As a writer, I always love to escape from everything. For that very reason, Hamilton Island would have to be one of my favourite holiday destinations. From the moment I step outside the doors of the island's airport terminal, I don't have to hurry past queues of taxis or get bombarded by hoardes of advertising billboards. In fact, there is nothing to do but slip into island time, relax and enjoy everything that this special place situated between the Queensland coast and Australia's world-famous Great Barrier Reef has to offer.
|With my wife Denise during our first visit to Hamilton Island in 2007. Catseye Beach is in the background.|
|Our favourite point of call every afternoon on Hamilton Island was the Pool Bar at Happy Hour.|
Just as my wife and I had done five years earlier, we stayed in one of the island's individual, palm fringed bungalows that gave us a sense of seclusion only a short stroll from the main resort centre. The air conditioned rooms nestled under the trees provided a shady retreat from the midday heat, if we weren't already seeking shade at the pool bar in the resort pool. With breathtaking views over Catseye Beach, the pool became our main point of stay. Especially at happy hour where the kids could easily find Mum and Dad with a cocktail in hand. With our children at an age where they were old enough to explore the island on their own, and a wealth of free activities at their disposal, it provided a laid back way for the parents and teenagers to each enjoy everything that the island had to offer at their own pace. So while the young at heart immersed themselves in wind-sailing kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, the parents set their watches to island time and simply enjoyed watching the day pass by at a much slower pace. The only problem we faced while relaxing in the pool each day was deciding where to dine that evening.
|Denise and I back again 5 years later in 2012, this time sharing a drink at Hamilton Island's Pub.|
We tried to make a point of eating somewhere different each evening. I counted 17 different eateries and restaurants on the island, most with picture perfect postcard views, so it wasn't that hard to find something we all liked. But with a herd of hungry teenagers in tow, the over-sized steaks served under the stars on the deck of the Marina Tavern was enough to entice us back for a second evening. We made a point of getting there early to admire the expensive yachts and pleasure craft as they returned from a day of sailing in The Whitsunday passage just as the sun began to set over the boat harbour. This is after all a yachtsman's paradise, and home each August to the annual Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
|Up close with the cheeky wildlife by Hamilton Island Boat Harbour. The cockatoos aren't shy and the water is naturally a brilliant aqua all year round.|
By the end of the day however, the only sound I wanted to hear was the sound of a cork popping and the water gently lapping on the shore only a few metres from our feet. With my kids off enjoying the evening playing Kegel 9-pin bowling with their cousins, the reality of our jobs, parenthood and all that is associated with a busy life seemed a world away. To sip on some sparkling wine under the stars in a deck chair on the sand was pure heaven. By the time we all met up back at our bungalows before bedtime, each group had in their own way enjoyed their own magical evening.
|With Denise in the front and me in the back, we prepare to head out of Hamilton Island's boat harbour for a sunset champagne kayak tour, 2007.|
|This photo was taken by my daughter just off Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island while snorkeling in 2012.|
Before you leave to head back to the land of reality, there is one thing you simply must do on your last night on Hamilton Island. Take the free island shuttle bus to One Tree Hill and plan to be there by 4.30pm. Each day a large crowd gathers for Sunset Cocktails at One Tree Hill. There is no better way to begin your last evening on the island with a loved one than by watching the sunset over the Whitsunday Passage while sipping a cocktail or a glass of champagne. While we all stood there watching that big golden ball sink slowly into the sky, there was no mistaking the thought that although our brief getaway was coming to an end, the memory of this moment would stick in our minds for a lifetime. And as the words of my brother-in-law who has travelled all around Australia echoed once the last slither of orange had disappeared somewhere over the horizon; 'Of all the places I've been to, I've never seen anything as good as that.'
|Perfect ending to a perfect holiday, sunset cocktails at One Tree Hill, Hamilton Island, 2012.|
What I liked: The variety of things on offer, from all day reef cruises to free activities like bush walking and lazing by the pool. Just heaven.
What I didn't like: There's not much I could fault, the food and drinks may be a little pricey, but try to remember that everything has to come from the mainland and then you can get on with enjoying yourself.