Wherever you land on the glittering archipelago of the Whitsunday Islands in the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, you are destined to experience a tropical escape of emerald waters and powdery beaches. Roam around central Hamilton Island, hop over to the famous Whitehaven beach, hike the Hill inlet for sweeping panoramas or dive into technicolour coral reefs.
Perfect for a couple’s retreat or a family holiday, accommodation options range from cushy private resorts to self-contained contemporary cabins tucked away in the island bush. We’ve rounded up a drool-worthy list of luxe family hotel destinations. We’re talking poolside mai-tais, ocean breezes, bungalow vibes and white sand dreams – all without the need of a passport.
Reef View Hotel | Hamilton Island
Right opposite Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island, the aptly named Reef View Hotel delivers an impressive setting over the Coral Sea. Serene spaces offer views over vibrant palms and turquoise inlets straight out of a remote island fantasy, yet the bustling marina is just a 10-minute stroll away. Though, you may want to stay indoors and relax in the hotel’s Spa Wumurdaylin – which translates to dragonfly – where they use plant-based treatments sourced from the island bush to lull serenity seekers into natural nirvana. If you prefer to get your endorphins flowing, you can make use of both the fitness centre and tennis courts.
Whether your room overlooks the reefs, tropical flora or uninhabited neighbouring islands, you’ll be able to savour the view from a place of contemporary comfort. Each room has its own balcony for outdoor living, whilst inside is fitted with flatscreen TVs and iPod docking stations to help set your desired mood. Room settings are rivalled only by the Pool Terrace restaurant, which takes pride of place beside the 35-metre outdoor pool. Hungry pool-goers can find buffet snacks throughout the day and fresh seafood once the sun goes down, while younger guests can munch on kid favourites like spaghetti or toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.View on trivago
Palm Bungalows | Hamilton Island
If you’re after something a touch more independent for the family, nearby the Reef View are the 4-star Palm Bungalows to give Whitsunday visitors a paradisaical home of their own. Vaulted timber ceilings lend the apartments an airy feel, and fresh, whitewashed decor in a neutral palette adds a simple but elegant take on island living.
Use of your own private, modern-equipped kitchenette lets you set a schedule entirely up to your family’s habits. Meals, whether prepared yourself or ordered in, can be shared alfresco on your decked veranda under breezy palm canopies brimming with tropical life. Kids can use the outdoor spaces as a chance to glimpse resident sulphur-crested cockatoos and laughing kookaburra.
All bungalows are within easy access of the beach and the main island amenities. You can dip in and out of Hamilton happenings when you please, and you’ll even receive complimentary access to the pools and restaurants of neighbouring resorts should you feel like a change of scenery.View on trivago
Palm Bay Resort | Long Island
If Hamilton Island is still too fast-paced, a short boat ride will take you across to the Palm Bay Resort on Long Island – you might even spot green sea turtles or angelic spotted manta rays on the way. The hotel’s own 4-star private cove, with just 21 exclusive bungalows available, delivers seclusion on a whole new level.
Nestled on a coconut-lined beach, clean and spacious self-contained villas, bungalows and traditional Polynesian bures (bungalows) offer open floorplans inspired by beachfront living. Swing lazily in a hammock on your sheltered deck that leads directly onto powdered sand or relax in cool, bamboo interiors without even WiFi to distract you.
Should you want to reconnect with the outside world, Palm Bay can organise island explore packages. Fishing, snorkelling, nature walks and water sports are available as group or solo experiences.
Days at the Palm Bay fill up with such strenuous activities as cool dips in the waterfall feature pool or sun worshipping on private beaches. The resort restaurant La Riviera – famed for its opulent seven-course dinner – makes for the perfect evening indulgence. Alternatively, stop in at the Island Store for basics like pasta, eggs and cheese and whip up a quick but creamy carbonara at the communal kitchen overlooking the pool.View on trivago
Heron Island Resort | Heron Island
Further away still, on the very edge of the Whitsundays is Heron Island Resort, a dreamlike escape for wildlife-loving families who value luxurious living that still safeguards the planet. In the summer months, kids can delight in observing turtle hatchlings scurrying towards the waves from protected nesting grounds, while winter visitors should keep eyes peeled for majestic humpback whales.
Make the most of this private island setting with a chef-prepared picnic on the beach, catered by the Shearwater Resort Restaurant, and watch migratory birds float on ocean breezes over the reef. You’ll find beach towels provided in your rooms, so all you’ll need are your bathers and boardies. Alternatively, stake out a spot on the resort’s outdoor veranda to dig into a sustainably sourced seafood buffet or the chef’s table d’hote.
Rooms are designed in a cool and classic island style with laidback wicker seating and french doors to flood modern spaces with natural light. Outside, a unique rock formation swimming pool above the beach presents uninterrupted views over the water. Come nightfall, the contemporary on-site restaurant and communal area cast club-inspired lighting for that little bit of extra coolness in the otherwise homely resort.View on trivago
Hamilton Island Holiday Homes | Hamilton Island
Returning to a faster pace but still very much on island time, Hamilton Island Holiday Homes offer decked out apartments for tropical staycations that are downright opulent. Gaze over the complex’s lush, palm-shaded gardens from the Lagoon Lodge or admire azure seascapes over island hills from the Panorama rooms. From the Frangipani Apartments, forego shoes altogether with immediate access to the golden sands of Catseye Beach.
Your private balcony or veranda will serve as a seat to watch the sun paint nearby islands and tranquil coves in shifting pastel shades each morning. Fix yourself a creamy latte or cook up a tropical storm for the family in your fully equipped kitchen. Apartments here come in far above your average holiday rental with polished woods, sky-reflecting white tile, gleaming marble and pristine outdoor spaces.
Should you and the brood want more activity, your stay includes the use of kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, windsurfing and snorkelling equipment and a catamaran. A leisurely stroll will take you to the nearby marina, yacht club or wildlife park, or you can test your putting skills on the Dent Island golf course. Come evening, dining options out range from seafood at Mariners to thick-cut steaks at Sails to rich Italian dishes at Manta Ray.View on trivago
The Edge 5 | Hamilton Island
For full Hamilton luxury, the elegant three-bedroom holiday home at The Edge 5 tempts visitors who prefer privacy with a secluded vantage point over brilliantly turquoise waters – viewable even from the bath. Sheltered on a hill but still, a 10-minute walk to the beach, this property allows guests to have access to holiday amenities without having to compromise on independent living. And the perks of privacy here really are unmatched – the island’s already magnificent sea vistas, for example, take on an extra level of magic when viewed from the house’s exclusive waterfall infinity pool.
Enjoy the archipelago feeling year-round from the decked barbeque area, or retire to trendy interiors with a state-of-the-art sound system, granite bench-top kitchen and chic glass-top dining. Bi-fold doors and expansive balconies bring the sea air into already breezy living spaces so you can fall asleep to a lullaby of ocean waves and sea-salt dreams.
With capacity for eight guests, this open plan accommodation makes for a spacious yet personal setting for family holidays. To reach the beach, marina or golf course, guests of The Edge have use of their own golf buggy or can call on a free valet service at their leisure.View on trivago