As I walk into the office, still drenched from the pouring Sydney rain, the memories from my recent travels keep me warm. Why had nobody told me about Hamilton Island before? Sure, as a proud New South Welshman, we hate to acknowledge anything north of the border exists, especially after another State of Origin loss. However, the luxury offering on the island is pretty damn close to paradise. After all, there’s a reason why Jay-Z, Beyonce and Taylor Swift have all vacationed in its idyllic setting.
Now, am I slightly jealous of my friends posting endless snaps of Europe? Yes. Yet, thanks to the winter-escaping climate of Queensland’s northeast coast, I was able to return fire on The Gram with some double-tap-worthy photos of my own. Take that, Italy. In all seriousness, I was treated to a magical week in the Whitsundays, and it’s only fair I report back with the goods for your next trip. Whether you’re after otherworldly views, adventure, golf or a luxurious retreat at the world-renowned qualia resort, this island caters to all your holidaying desires.
Walking through the entrance of Qualia is like being injected with 10 shots of pure endorphins all at once. If you doubt me, take one look at the image above and tell me it doesn’t put you straight into vacay mode. Perched high with breathtaking panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding islands, the place immediately fills you with a calm excitement that only a private, adult-only resort can. After sinking in the sights and sinking the complimentary bubbles, it was time to check out my room.
I was staying in the South-west facing Leeward Pavillion, specifically designed to celebrate the memorable Whitsunday sunsets. Embracing my own personal sanctuary, I spent a few hours lounging on the relaxing sundeck immersed in the tropical bushland overlooking the ocean. Those moments were filled with a peacefulness and tranquillity I hadn’t experienced on any other travelling adventure, as if living quietly in the corner of nature reserved just for me. One could spend days just hanging around the pavilions, but serenity, as I found out, works up quite the appetite.
As you’d expect, qualia serve only the freshest and best produce at its Pebble Beach and Long Pavillion restaurants. While Long Pavillion boasts one of the best locations to enjoy a cocktail and watch the Whitsunday sunset, Pebble Beach is an Australian dining experience that simply can’t be missed. The waterside restaurant offers a six-course tasting menu fully inspired by the surrounding Great Barrier Reef, and the evening is complemented by premium Australian and imported wines from the restaurant’s superb sommelier-compiled wine list. Bon Appetite, friends.
When you’re feeling a little sluggish the next morning after indulging at Pebble Beach, there’s a magnificent waterfront gym that provides the perfect setting to sweat out your sins. From there, you’re only a hop skip and jump to the ocean or nearby pool with views to die for. Being hungover has never felt so good.
Hamilton Island Golf Course
Describing Hamilton Island Golf Course with mere words feels like an injustice. From travelling to the course by boat to teeing off above the ocean, the entire experience is a delight to the senses from start to finish. Designed by British Open winner Peter Thompson, the 18 holes take full advantage of Mother Natures’ work. However, I must admit, the wicked winds, impenetrable bushland, and tight fairways were frustrating for the average hacker like me, but it didn’t impact my overall enjoyment of the day. Just pack a bunch of extra balls and embrace the challenge. If nothing else, the clubhouse overlooking the surrounding Whitsundays Islands is the perfect place for a post-round beverage.
If Heart Reef isn’t on your bucket list it should be. The Journey to the Heart tour begins with a 30-minute helicopter flight over the iconic Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and the Great barrier Reef before landing on the private Heart Island pontoon helipad. The setting is breathtaking on its own, but being able to swim and snorkel inside the lagoon was magical. Furthermore, the glass bottom boat tour gives you a great appreciation for the flora and fauna beneath the surface. If there’s one place worth whipping out the GoPro, it’s here.
So what are you waiting for? Swap the jumper and rainjacket for a pair of board shorts and escape the winter blues without having to spend 24 hours trapped on a flight. You won’t regret it.
To check out all the Whitsundays has to offer, jump on the Tourism Whitsundays website and start exploring.