Boarding the Whitsunday’s ferry to Hamilton Island, which was to be our home for the next couple of days, I realised it was a far cry from what I remembered, when I had last been on the ferry thirteen years ago.
Firstly, when you dock at Hamilton Island, you get the most spectacular waterfront views of the marina.
There were also hundreds of beautiful, expensive boats bobbing up and down to the backdrop of a small and pristine esplanade. The feel and look to this pretty marina is a cross between new and old. It blends modern boats and wealth with the old architecture reminiscent of a Western movie and the combination is striking.
I was greeted by a rep from the Hamilton Island tourist board and taken to the Reef View hotel, by buggy. Yep, no cars are allowed on the island and everyone, including the locals, drive around in golf buggies. That's another reason why the island has so much charm – and over the next two days I really learnt the extent of its lure.
Over the next couple of days I was informed, that the island’s new owner – the Oatley family has invested almost $350 million into revamping the island. And you can certainly see where their investment has gone! To start with, they gave the Reef View Hotel a huge facelift and the results are an impressive sky-scraper hotel, with sweeping marina views. One of its unique features is the outdoor lift, giving guests spectacular views no matter what floor they’re on!
For our first evening we decided to check out the recently opened Co Co Chu restaurant, an Asian ‘tapas style’ eatery where guests are encouraged to share dishes, much like they do with Spanish tapas. The restaurant was unique in everything from the tastes of the food, to the décor. Unlike many Asian restaurants, the interior design was more aligned to café-style dining with white plastic tables and chairs and a laid-back open planned dining area. Don’t let this thought put you off – the result was a very relaxed, casual dining experience, which is intentionally designed to reflect the ‘sharing’ aspect of the food… or at least that’s the result!
The next day we rented a buggy and toured the island.
I was desperate to drive one of those things. It takes about fifteen minutes to get to any point on the island. I loved nipping around the lanes, which constantly provided beautiful ocean views, and look out points to neighbouring islands. Later in the day and equally exciting, I did some quad biking, which was a fantastic experience that allowed me to exercise my need for speed.
A sunset cruise followed and I admit that after a whole day on-land I really did find myself missing the ocean so I was relieved to be back out at sea again. $65 for two people, the cruise has a policy of ‘unlimited drinks’ which usually with these kinds of tours, means anything but, however not on this one. They really did mean it, and every time my wine glass got near to being empty someone came over and refilled it!
Platters of cheese and nibbles helped soak up some of the alcohol as we got to witness one of the most spectacular Aussie sunsets.
We spent the remaining time on Hamilton Island either out on the buggy touring the island, having the most delightful sundaes in the island's designated ‘Ice Creamery’ (I recommend the hot chocolate fudge sundae), munching on fine pastries at the island's bakery and swimming in the outdoor pool at Reef View.
When it was time to hand back our beloved buggy and make our way down to the marina for our return ferry ride to Abel Point in Airlie Beach, we didn’t feel ready to go.
Until next time...