Paradise Found in Queensland Posted by Lily Read - 4 April 2016 It would be easy for me to sit here and rhapsodise about the turquoise waters, white sand beaches and stunning sunsets that surround the Whitsunday Islands, the things that dreams and bucket lists are made of, but that speaks for itself. What goes somewhat unnoticed about Hamilton Island is that it is such an easy gateway to experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. We all learnt about the Natural Wonders of the World in school as a kid, I remember flicking through pictures of these unbelievable places thinking how few people must be lucky enough to see them and how tricky they must be to access, little did I think I would have the chance to see any of them in my life. Yet, after a few days on Hamilton Island enjoying the Great Barrier Reef by both air and sea, I can tell you first hand that this wonder is open and accessible to anyone. We arrive by boat at the Great Barrier Reef and it's time for a swim. Our first day on Hamilton Island we hopped on a full-day Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip with Explore. After two relaxing hours soaking up the sun and breath-taking scenery that whizzed past us, we arrived at Bait Reef. A backwards roll (or in my case tumble!) into the crystal clear water and there we were, surrounded by the rich jeweled coral …in another world but underwater! We spent three hours dipping and diving amongst the reef’s inquisitive fish. The marine park is proudly protected by the Australian and Queensland governments meaning the sea life are not fazed or threatened by humans. Their curious nature in turn made our exploration of the tropical world more exciting… we even found Nemo, the famously shy clown fish! It's Nemo! Flying over to the world famous Whitehaven beach. Not only a snorkeler and diver’s haven, the Great Barrier Reef is spectacular from the air too; a maze of glittering sapphire spirals, from a greater distance there is no doubt about why it is considered to be one of the world’s wonders. Most will have seen the image during their life, on a poster, in a magazine or on the web as it is the most photographed coral reef in the world. However as we fly over the Great Barrier Reef with Hamilton Island Air, the legendary heart comes into view and my jaw falls to the floor. The stunning heart of the Great Barrier Reef. The sheer size and beauty of this underwater world is totally mind-boggling. The range of colours, shapes and sizes take on an entire new meaning when seen with your own eyes. I have never seen something that has made me so aware of nature’s delicate complexity. Aerial view flying over the Great Barrier Reef. Back on terra firma we spent the rest of our time at the utter paradise that is qualia. This contemporary resort oozes elegance and exclusivity, secluded in the north of Hamilton Island. From the personalised check in – you are welcomed with a glass of bubbles and whisked to your pavilion via golf buggy, the island’s transport of choice, to the warm and wonderful staff, the world class spa and the envious setting, qualia is completely idyllic. For ultimate indulgence, stay in a Winward Pavilion where you can while away your days in your infinity plunge pool on your private decking. Hot tip – request Pavilion 4, 5 or 6 for uninterrupted ocean views. Our amazing view from the Windward pavilion plunge pool and deck. About the Author Lily has forever been seduced by beautiful places so a career in luxury travel suits her perfectly. Wanderlust is something that runs in her blood; her grandfather was an explorer, and since she was young she dreamed to follow his footsteps around South America. Six months spent travelling through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile wasn’t enough, and subsequently she has had chance to explore many more corners of the world including the turquoise waters of Maldives, luxury safari lodges in Kenya’s Masaai Mara, Tanzania’s spice island Zanzibar, Antigua’s 365 beaches, the vineyards of North California, along with European city and ski breaks. Her list is never ending; the more she sees, the longer it gets... the best excuse to carry on travelling! Her latest adventure was a road trip up the East Coast of Australia.