Though it's the most heavily populated and developed island in the Whitsunday group, more than 70% of Hamilton Island has been preserved in its natural state. The 1,482-acre island abounds in beautiful beaches (such as long, curving, palm-dotted Catseye Beach), bush trails, and spectacular lookouts. Yet for all its natural beauty, Hamilton's is more an action-packed, sociable holiday isle than a place to get away from it
Around 35 minutes by ferry from Shute Harbour, Hamilton buzzes with activity. Guests of the resort, and its various types of accommodation, including hotel-style and self-catering establishments, make up most of the itinerant population, but there are private residences here—as well as throngs of day-trippers from the mainland, other islands, and cruising yachts, who wander the island's bustling marina and village each day.
For a family-friendly, one-stop Whitsundays experience, Hamilton Island is a smart choice. Many of the resort accommodations allow kids under age 13 to stay free, provided they stay with parents and use existing beds (no roll-aways or cribs). Under-13s can even eat free at some island restaurants when staying at resort hotels, choosing from kids' menus.
The resort's set up like a small city, with its own school, post office and banking outlets, medical center, pharmacy, supermarket and DVD-hire store, plus shops, restaurants, bars, and a nightclub, all open to island guests and day-trippers. There's also an island beauty salon, and a day spa/relaxation center (open daily 10–6) that offers massage, aromatherapy treatments, and float-tank sessions. But little on Hamilton is free; prices—for food, activities, Internet use, even grocery items—can be steep. The ubiquitous golf carts that visitors hire to zip around the island are A$45 an hour, A$60 for three hours, and A$85 for 24 hours from Hamilton Island Buggy Rentals (7:30 am to 6 pm). Save a few bucks by using the free Island Shuttle service that runs around the island at regular intervals between 7 am and 11 pm.