I’ve always said that the only way to survive a Canberra winter is to get out, even if it’s just for an extra long weekend! I’m originally from QLD so the sunshine and sea will always be some of my favourite things. We’re in the midst of the coldest time of the year in Canberra and it’s not too late to plan your winter escape. Even if you don’t live in Canberra, if a warm, island destination (otherwise known as paradise) is where you want to be then Hamilton Island is the perfect escape for you. We went there earlier in the year and had the best time exploring the island!
There are lots of good deals on flights and if you are flying from Canberra, a quick stopover in Sydney or Brisbane will have you there in 4-5 hours. As you fly over the stunning blue ocean that’s dotted with islands you immediately begin to relax when you start the descent and land in paradise.
Mr Eat Canberra and I spent our time sipping on cocktails, soaking up the sun, frolicking in the many pools and beaches, eating delicious food, drinking ice-cold beer, going on day trips and getting to know the sea life when we went diving and snorkeling. It’s the ideal destination for a family holiday (kids under a certain age even eat free), a romantic escape, a girls or boys weekend, or go solo and treat yourself by taking some time out to rejuvenate and relax.
There’s a daily activity guide that includes activities like yoga and group exercise classes, there’s also a bowling alley, mini golf, a day spa, art classes, a go-kart track, live entertainment, a wildlife park, quad bikes, jet ski tours and heaps more. You can also use the kayaks, SUPs and other equipment for free when you book at certain places, including the Reef View Hotel .
I’ve put together some suggestions about where to stay, what to eat and what to do to help you plan your trip.
Where to stay
There are lots of options on the island but we stayed at The Reef View Hotel. A bus will be waiting for you when you arrive and it will take you straight to your hotel. Our bus driver was really informative and he pointed out things along the way. There’s also a Hamilton Island app that you can download that has everything you need to know about the island. When we arrived it was too early to check in so we had a bite to eat and a few cocktails at the Pool Terrace.
When it was time to check in we opened the door to our room and were greeted with the most stunning view of the ocean and islands in front of us. I highly recommend booking a room with an ocean view! Waking up every morning and taking in that beautiful view was incredible. From now until the end of July you can book 5 nights and only pay 4 at The Reef Hotel, this includes the buffet breakfast and free hire of the equipment. Or you can Stay three nights or more and enjoy full buffet breakfast daily PLUS $100 resort credit. There are a few bars at the hotel and there’s a desk where you can book all of your trips.
What to eat
There are lots of choices when it comes to food so you’ll be able to find something for every occasion. We ate breakfast at the hotel every day and loved it. There’s so much to choose from and they even have a fresh juice bar. If you stay at the Reef View Hotel you have the option to eat breakfast at a few locations. The free buffet breakfast is included in the stay for 5 and pay for 4 deal.
Of course I had looked at menus and booked a few places before we arrived. On the first night we ate at Romano’s, a beautiful Italian restaurant on the marina.
We went diving to the Great Barrier Reef on the second day and had a delicious buffet lunch on the boat.
We felt like something fresh for dinner on the second night so we went to TAKO for some tasty Mexican eats. Expect to indulge in Mexican favourites with a Japanese and Korean twist. We didn’t book and there was a short wait for our table so while we waited we went to the Marina Tavern to cool down with an icy cold beer. Hot tip: go to the top floor because there’s air-conditioning!
We ate at the Pool Terrace a few times and the oysters were some of the best we’ve had.
I had pre-booked dinner at the amazing Coca Chu for out last night on Hamilton Island and it was just as good as I expected. This South-East Asian restaurant is right on the beach and we could see the moon and the reflection of the ocean from our table. It was a beautiful night and the food was incredible. Share the dishes and try as much as you can from the menu!
Next time I really want to go to Beach Club Restaurant, Bommie Restaurant and Mariners. If you don’t want to eat out every night then you can also order groceries online or pick up some supplies from the general store at the Marina Village.
I would recommend to eat later in the evening to avoid the crowds. Or just make a reservation in advance.
What to do
You can spend your winter escape lazing about on the beach or by the pool, or you can get out and explore the island and take advantage of the many day trips on offer. These are some of the things we did:
- On The Edge Sunset Sail
- Cruise Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef Adventure
- Reef Ryder Two in One – visit Whitehaven Beach and snorkel
- Hired Golf Buggies and explored the island
- Watched the sunset at One Tree Hill
I can’t wait to go back to Hamilton Island because there are still so many things I didn’t get the chance to do. You can go hiking, go on a scenic flight, have a picnic on Whitehaven beach, use the SUP boards, kayaks, play mini golf, hire go karts, go to the golf club and heaps more. The best part is that you can tailor your holiday to make it as relaxing or adventurous as you want it to be.
If a mini break is what you need then treat yourself and book your winter escape to Hamilton Island!