Ok, most of you would agree, when you have kids, life can get a bit crazy. As kids grow older, the daily routines, weekend sports and other activities drains you right out. You really need to have a break once in a while to re-charge your batteries. If you live in Australia there are plenty of places you can getaway for a short break with your kids.
If you are looking to get away from the rat race, and have toddlers, you probably have dismissed Hamilton Island as one of the places you can enjoy with little kids. I know I did and had been delaying the idea of going to Hamilton Island till the kids had grown older. A little bit of information about Hamilton Island; it is set in the Whitsundays in Queensland Australia. It is has a tropical climate being near the equator. Another great fact is that it is located near the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach both of which are breathtaking natural wonders of the world.
Last year we were feeling really drained and exhausted so my husband, Raj, decided he would just book 5 nights on Hamilton Island for a break since we had not had the chance to go on a decent family break in over two years. Dates were booked for November Melbourne Cup weekend. Our kids turned 5 and 3 just before November, the 3 year old being Callum, who usually can not sit still for too long, made me a bit nervous. I was afraid maybe we will be disappointed going to a beautiful vacation destination with young kids and spoil it for ourselves and in doing so, waste the money which we no longer had easy access to. It scared me a bit, that we will not get our “money’ worth” so to speak. Hamilton Island is not necessarily a cheap place for a break (transfers plus accommodation can add up to the same cost of an international trip), but we took the risk and did it any way (our style).
As usual, closer to the date of our holiday, I started doing some research to discover there are a few activities for kids to do on the island, but doubted my shy 5 year old would want to be involved in doing some of these activities that required them to be doing things without the parents. So still with a huge question mark over my head, we set off to Hamilton Island.
We also took the long way around to get there. Flying into Mackay airport from Melbourne we had to take a 2 hour Shuttle bus to Airlie Beach ferry terminal, upon which we missed the ferry by 5 minutes and had to wait another 2 hours for the next ferry to Hamilton Island. I was a bit worried about this long day of travel (10 hours+ in total) where we had to use 5 different modes of transportation (car, Plane, Bus, Ferry, Golf Buggy).
I shouldn’t have worried too much because the kids enjoyed it very much, they were very excited and really took all of it in with a smile. Even the long wait at the ferry terminal with very limited entertainment choices (which was none) was met with a smile. The Ferry terminal was pretty new and just consisted of a small cafe that had nothing much left and a small souvenir shop.
We left our home in Melbourne at 6 am and eventually arrived at our accommodation at Hamilton Island after 4 pm. Hamilton Island has a range of accommodation available to suit different demographics but they can be a bit on the expensive side compared to other locations in Australia. We found the most reasonable deal with Whitsunday Apartments (self catering apartments) which is ideal for a family.
It was a very spacious apartment with a balcony overlooking the breathtaking Catseye Beach. We were impressed, with this 1 bedroom apartment (good start!). There was plenty of space for a family of four with a large bedroom with a king size bed plus a separate bed/sofa, a living area, a dining area and a good sized kitchen if you wanted to cook some meals at your leisure. We didn’t cook since there were so many places to eat out including a fish and chips take away. The number of great restaurants that offered kids meals for free was also a bonus.
So while we were there, we really got to experience what Hamilton Island had to offer. There were pools all along the Catseye Beach that were available to all guests staying at this resort island. The pools proved to be a hit with our kids. They spent hours and hours at the pools (yes.. every day). There are so many great activities to talk about… so let me list the activities we enjoyed that I think are great for families with younger kids
- The many pools you can use on the Island
- Catseye Beach walk during low tide- get closer to the coral reef where you can see schools of fish swimming right past your feet
- Free Snorkel hire- Snorkeling the reef fringe to see beautiful corals and colourful marine life including turtles
- Free Catamaran hire
- Free kayak hire
- Turtle Discovery cruise (only $15 per adult and $10 per child under 12years)
- Exploring the tropical gardens and discovering new plants
- Wildlife- when walking around in the evenings you see birds (that make human like loud noises) and even wallabies
- Kids free activities like face painting, jumping castles etc (check resort schedule for times and days of the week)
- The wildlife park
- The Golf Buggy rides (free if your accommodation gives you your own one)
- Late evening live music played near the pools and marina
- Simply relaxing on the beach or near the many pools (BYO your favourite book)
- Eating out there is a kids eat free program at most restaurants and great fresh seafood to be had
As well as many other activities on Hamilton Island including Mini golf, Bush Walking, Quad bike racing, Art classes, Bowling, Sailing, Fishing, Cruises, Jet skiing, Fitness classes (free for guests) and Open air cinemas to suit all ages. Plus loads of opportunities to take up on that well deserved relaxing time for the parents. Be sure to have a look at the brochure you get at your accommodation which has a time table for all the activities mentioned above.
The trip I treated with caution turned out to be a great one and ever since we got back, Hamilton Island has become one of our “must go again” destinations. As we discovered firsthand Hamilton Island is a family destination as much as it is a destination for couples.
I would love to hear your Hamilton Island stories or any other similar experiences. If you would like to know more about something I have mentioned above or need more information on certain things I have briefly spoken about please let me know.