Hamilton Island: Queensland’s Answer to Jurassic Park
I visited Hamilton Island for the first time in March this year, based solely on the recommendation of my Flight Centre Travel Consultant. Deciding to keep it all a surprise, I did ZERO Googling before rocking up with my suitcase and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Here are a few observations:
Welcome to Jurassic Park
I travelled to Hamilton from Brisbane on Virgin Australia, and was lucky enough to bag a window seat. The views of the emerald green islands set in shimmering, teal-coloured waters as we passed over the Whitsundays was my first indication of just how beautiful this place was going to be.
However, a friendly word of warning: landing on Hamilton Island is a fairly hair-raising experience – spontaneous praying/swearing is not an uncommon reaction. I won’t spoil it for you but if theme parks aren’t your thing, I’d strongly recommend keeping your peepers firmly shut until you touchdown on the tarmac (if they are, you’re in for a treat!).
From the electric golf buggies to the hilly, sweeping vistas to the monsoon-like downpours, Hamilton Island looks a lot like Jurassic Park – especially when you’re flying over it in a helicopter whilst humming the theme tune (much to our pilot’s mirth – I thought he couldn’t hear me!). The dense, tropical foliage and constant call of the wild (think screeching birds, chirping crickets, clicking wallabies) really make you feel like you’re out in the wilderness – although there’s really nothing ‘wild’ about Hamilton Island at all!
It’s a fantastically well-appointed place, with shuttle buses, a golf course, a marina, and a plethora of restaurants and poolside bars. And whilst you’re in no danger of running into a T-Rex, there are plenty of pterodactyl-esque fruit bats hanging around, with a wingspan of up to 6ft (the unsettling sight of them swarming across the sunset might put you off your cocktail).
Embrace the Humidity
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the next-level humidity you might encounter on Hamilton Island. By the time I arrived I’d already worn every item in my suitcase, having spent the previous week in Melbourne. So one of the first things I did after check-in was handwash all my clothes, and hang them out to dry in the hotel room. Three days later, when I was packing to check out, everything was still wet – and so were all my documents.
It’s the kind of oppressive tropical heat that engenders a virtual paralysis – it’s simply too hot to go dashing around. I was literally dripping with moisture for three days, and so were all the hotel staff (I’ve always been amazed at how people manage to keep working in such conditions). Clothes clung uncomfortably to my skin and I could have easily gotten through three outfits a day – except I couldn’t, of course, because they were all still busy “drying” on the rack.
Ladies, brace yourselves: you will look horrendous on Hamilton Island (that’s the real reason behind all those endless scenery shots and romantic photos of people’s backs!). Selfies will fast become a dim and distant memory – your hair straighteners won’t save you now, and neither will your make-up bag. When I stayed there in early March, it was around 40°C every day, with 90% humidity. Unless you’re applying industrial-strength wood stain and setting it with three coats of varnish, that full-beat face will soon slide right off.
My advice? Embrace this sweaty scenario and surrender to the elements – you’ll have much more fun. Who cares if you look like a drowned rat at One Tree Hill (one of the most beautiful spots on the island for a cold glass of bubbly)? So does everybody else! It’s all part of the experience – just enjoy the view. : )
Cocka-proof Your Room
Cockatoos are all over this island, and they’re a lovely sight on the balcony of a morning. But please heed the warnings – which, to be fair, are EVERYWHERE on Hamilton: these creatures cannot be trusted. Every morning when I switched on my TV, I was reminded to make sure all doors and windows were closed, but you’d be amazed how easy it is to forget – especially when you’re still on the premises.
On the morning I was packing to set off for Bali, I cracked the balcony doors open for some air. About halfway through, I nipped to the bathroom – and that’s when I heard the spine-chilling muffled flutter of flapping wings; I instantly knew it wasn’t coming from outside.
When I peered round the doorway, I was shocked to discover not one, but two cockatoos sitting on my bed amongst all my belongings. The suitcase was open and among the items strewn across the duvet were my holiday money, my credit cards and my passport. I thought my best bet would be to shut them in whilst I put my valuables away, but before I could make it across the room they flew out through the sliding doors – and one of them was clutching something rectangular in its claws. I thought he’d nicked my iPhone: turns out he’d nabbed the TV remote.
I was very lucky – I’d only popped to the bathroom to comb my hair; who knows what might have happened if I’d taken a shower. Plus I’d have felt like an absolute twit describing the burglars to the cops for the e-fit. Make sure you shut all the windows and doors when you’re going out. And when you’re staying in, throw all your valuables in the safe before you throw open those balcony doors (better safe than sorry).
Check out our range of Queensland holiday ideas, and chat to one of our Travel Experts about tailor making your Hamilton Island adventure.