Visit Catseye Beach
There is only one main beach on Hamilton Island which is directly in front of the major hotels. The beach is very clean but there are a lot of pebbles so it makes it difficult (and painful) to walk around bare foot.
We went sea kayaking one day at the beach and that was a lot of fun. It was quite hard to get the kayak actually into the water with the waves breaking constantly and I have quite a few bruises on my shin from the kayak slamming back into me! If you stay at the Reef View Hotel, you get free use of the non-motorised water equipment.
The water retracted quite far during low tide and it was very relaxing taking a walk along the beach and being able to walk so far out into the water.
Walk around the Marina
The Marina is only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, though you need to go up one steep hill and then down another. There is a free shuttle bus operating to the Marina every 15 minutes to take you there from outside the hotel if you can’t conquer the hill.
The Marina is the “hub” of Hamilton Island with the majority of the shops and restaurants. It is also the place where I park my multimillion dollar boat (in my dreams)! There are tables around so you can have a nice takeaway / picnic lunch, though watch out for the birds!
Hire a golf buggy and explore the island
Hiring a buggy is not compulsory in order to explore the island, but it is more convenient. As I mentioned earlier, there is a shuttle bus which can take you around, but the one that explores the island comes every 40 minutes.
You can hire a buggy either from across the Reef View Hotel or down at the Marina. There are various rates for the buggy hire, but I think the 24 hour hire is the most worthwhile. It costs $85 for 24 hours and an extra $10 if you want insurance. $85 covers you for your petrol and all your travel.
We went early in the morning to hire our buggy and planned to drive around. Hamilton Island is very hilly and it is almost impossible to get lost because all roads lead into one another.
We visited the church where all the Hamilton Island weddings take place. It is a quaint little chapel with a great view of the water. We didn’t get to look inside though.
We drove past a lot of nice looking houses. Apartments / houses with water views can’t be had for less than $2 million. I wonder how many people actually permanently live on Hamilton Island.
We went up to One Tree Hill, the best place on the island to see the sunset. It also provides a beautiful view during the day.
We also discovered a swamp on our journey. We saw some ducks in the water and stopped the buggy to take some photos. While standing on the deck over the water, I noticed there were also turtles (tortoises? I never know the difference!) and eels swimming!
I would highly recommend hiring a buggy for at least a day to explore the island. It gives you the freedom to go where you want to go and see what you want to see without waiting for a bus. We only hired it for one day and took the shuttle/walked for the rest of the time.
Go see the Great Barrier Reef
It was our bad luck that the one day of crappy weather on our trip was the day we were heading out to the reef! It wasn’t a good sign when we woke up in the morning and looked out the balcony to see a grey sky and waves breaking.
Fantasea runs daily trips from Hamilton Island out to the Great Barrier Reef for $225 per adult. You meet at the Marina for a 9am departure and the trip out to the reef takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. We had to go through 2 – 3m swells in the open water on the way and it made for a lot of sick people on the boat!
Fantasea have a purpose built pontoon in the middle of the ocean called Reef World and from there you are able to go snorkelling and see the coral.
Once you reach Reef World, you can go for a ride in a glass bottom submarine that takes you on a short trip to see the coral without having to go in the water. There is also a viewing room to see schools of fish (but no coral).
Hubby and I both went snorkelling and wore those adorable (just kidding) suits as pictured below, called Stinger suits. They are thinner than wetsuits and are a lot more figure hugging! It was also advisable to wear a life jacket because the water was choppy and the current was very strong. The current kept trying to push you back to the pontoon so you had to fight to keep going forward and it was hard to stay in the same spot to look at the coral.
A cold buffet lunch was provided on the boat (not very good) and you had a final chance to snorkel again before the boat departed at 2.30pm. It was approaching low tide so there was a better view of the reef from above the water.
This post is getting a bit long so I will break it up into 2 parts.
Over & Out, Rilsta xx