The following extract is taken from Flight Centre magazine The Experts, with words by Steven Short and photos as credited.
For breathtaking snorkelling and diving, nothing on earth quite compares to the Great Barrier Reef. Lying off the coast of Queensland, the reef is made up of around 900 islands, one of which is the wonderfully laid-back paradise of Hamilton Island.
The Whitsunday Islands, a beautiful archipelago of 74 islands less than 50km off the Queensland shore, is the perfect base from which to explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. One of the most stunning islands in this landscape is Hamilton Island. Arriving by ferry from the mainland or by air from major cities, the brilliant blue vistas of Hamilton Island greet you. It’s not hard to see why in 2008 the location found itself in the spotlight when a caretaker’s job there was advertised as the ‘best job in the world’, with a A$150,000 salary for six months of living on the island and blogging about it.
Yachting enthusiasts should head there in late August when you can enjoy the annual AUDI Hamilton Island Raceweek. With more than 100 yachts competing in the international yachting event, it is now the largest off-shore regatta in Australia. You can also charter your own yacht to explore the crystal waters. If you enjoy pampering, indulge at the island’s Spa Wumurdaylin – relax poolside with a cocktail or enjoy one of the many restaurants on offer. You can even enjoy a round at the Hamilton Island Golf Course, one of the world’s premier golfing destinations, on its own dedicated island, the beautiful Dent Island.
There’s accommodation here to suit both families and couples. The Reef View Hotel offers flawless views of the Whitsunday Passage, while the adults-only Beach Club boutique retreat has an intimate and relaxed vibe and looks onto the palm-fringed Catseye Beach. And for luxe living, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas, nestled alongside the striking copper-roofed Hamilton Island Yacht Club, provide unrivalled world-class facilities.
Image Credit: Plain Picture
From Hamilton Island, head out to explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, a wildlife enthusiast’s dream and home to some 1,500 species of fish, 200 of birds, six of turtles, and more than 30 marine mammals.
Snorkelling and diving trips run all year and one of the great things about the Reef is you don’t have to dive very deep to experience its wonders. Many parts of the warm waters are no deeper than a swimming pool but offer snorkellers kaleidoscopic and multi-coloured visions of fish and coral. Tours by helicopter or seaplane are also popular options for a different perspective on an amazing sight that will remain in the memory forever.
Do you want to see the splendour of the Great Barrier Reef for yourself? Head over to our Australia page and take a look at our flights and holidays Down Under: