Choose from 7 Fun Things to Do in Hamilton
Reefworld is the Barrier Reef experience made easy. It's located on two giant pontoons over sheltered Hardy Reef, one of the most beautiful and prolific of nature's coral gardens. So many colors! Thousands of fish! It's a deluxe way to see the wonders of the reef.
You're whisked out there by high-speed catamaran, so you'll spend less time getting out to the reef, and because Hardy Reef is a platform reef, it's not subject to choppy conditions and can be snorkeled pretty much year-round.
You can tour the reef without getting wet aboard spacious semi-submersibles, with commentary from Reef Interpreters. Reefworld's facilities also include a large, seated underwater viewing chamber (complete with soft nautical music); a secure diving area; a large sundeck with sun lounges and views; and a tailor-made viewing area on deck to see the massive Queensland Groper living beneath the platform. There are also masseurs, shops and a host of activities for children.
The catamarans that take you out to Reefworld leave from Shute Harbour (near Airlie Beach), going via Hamilton Island, and from Hamilton Island direct. Both ferries leave in the morning and return in the late afternoon.
- No cars are allowed on Hamilton Island, but golf buggies are available to rent and a free shuttle bus runs to locations, including Catseye Beach, Front Street, and Marina Village.
- The island has numerous bars and restaurants, most of which are around Catseye Beach and Hamilton Island Marina.
- Pack sunscreen, a hat, and your swimsuit—most tours include free time at the beach.
- A motorized raft tour means you can explore protected areas in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and reach the best snorkeling spots.
- Some boats and tours are wheelchair accessible. Beach wheelchairs are available to rent from the resorts.
Airlie Beach may be two-horse small, but it's the main point of departure for many Whitsunday cruises so it's always got the lively feel of constant movement. In the day, the pace is laid back and mainly revolves around the town's artificial lagoon. This is a giant swimming pool (and we mean giant - more than the equivalent of six full-size pools) built by the council to give the town's inhabitants and visitors somewhere to swim when jellyfish season closes the beach.
The lagoon is surrounded by landscaped gardens and everything you'll need for a lazy day spent between the water and the picnic basket - BBQs, showers and toilets are all on tap.
At night, the town sparks up and the backpacker population join the locals on Shute Harbour Road, the main center, to do the rounds of its bars, pubs and clubs. Shute Harbour Road is where you'll find most of the accommodation and eating options, which are reasonable to good. If you're taking a cruise out to the Barrier Reef or the Whitsunday Islands, you'll probably be leaving from Shute Harbour, about 10 minutes drive away from Airlie Beach itself.