Making the most of Hamilton Island with kids Posted by Katrina Whitehead - 30 November 2015 When it comes to holidaying with pre-schoolers, Hamilton Island really is a dream destination. It’s easy to get to, the weather is magnificent all year round, there is a huge range of accommodation to choose from, the food is fantastic, and there’s more than enough to keep the whole family entertained (and keep everyone’s mood an even keel) from sunrise to sunset. After visiting recently with a busy two year old and five year old, here are some of our top tips for making the most of the island: Getting there There are lots of ways of getting to the island - including by plane, helicopter, boat, ferry and even private yacht. For families with kids, the most popular is by plane, and Hamilton Island has its own commercial airport, which makes things very easy. It’s served by direct, daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns with Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar. We flew from Sydney, and the flight took less than two hours - an ideal timeframe for little travellers, and so much easier than bundling everyone into the car for a long drive up the freeway! We were collected by our complimentary airport transfer as soon as we arrived and it took less than five minutes to arrive at our hotel room. So we were able to have breakfast at home, and lunch once we arrived on the island. Easy! With the help of some snacks and some digital entertainment, it’s a very easy two-hour flight from Sydney to Hamilton Island. Where to stay You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to family-friendly accommodation on Hamilton Island, and with young travellers in tow, you really have three main options: Reef View Hotel The impressive Reef View Hotel is an icon of Hamilton Island. All the fresh, modern (and huge!) rooms face directly to the sea or tropical gardens. We stayed in a Reef Family Room so our kids could have their own adjoining room and bathroom. Even the view from the glass lifts in the Reef View Hotel is spectacular. Great things about the Reef View Hotel: The hotel is in a central location and even if you don’t manage to hire a buggy, you’ll still be able to walk to most things on the island (or use the shuttle bus). The hotel has the convenience of its own pool, Tour Desk, restaurant and bar. The daily breakfast buffet is big and varied, and great for filling little tummies. The views are spectacular. We chose to stay on the lowest floor (level two), but if your kids are older (and not partial to climbing the railings), then the views from the fourth floor upwards are magnificent. When you stay at the Reef View Hotel, any child under 12 stays free and eats free if dining with you before 7.30pm at selected restaurants and choosing an item from the kids’ menu, which can be a huge bonus.There is a range of options for families, and if you don’t mind being a little higher up, the Reef View Hotel also has a spectacular Terrace Suite (there’s a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom version available), and a Presidential Suite. The incredible view from the top of the Reef View Hotel, located on Catseye Beach. Palm Bungalows In a great, central location just near the Reef View Hotel, these self-contained huts have all just been renovated. Each one has a fresh, contemporary interior and a little kitchenette, so you can prepare your own meals. Great things about the Palm Bungalows: Each one is self-contained, and includes a kitchenette, small fridge and stove so you can prepare your own meals (great if you have a baby who has just started solids). When booking, you can ask for a cot and/or a highchair. They are air-conditioned, with fresh, contemporary interiors. There’s a small pull-out couch that could happily fit a pre-schooler or toddler. As with the Reef View Hotel, every child under 12 stays free, and eats free if they’re dining with you before 7.30pm at selected restaurants and choosing an item from the kids’ menu. You can tap into the Reef View Hotel breakfast option if you like - and you also have the same option of choosing a different breakfast location every day. A great option for families, the Palm Bungalows have all just been renovated. Hamilton Island Holiday Homes The Hamilton Island Holiday Homes are also very popular with families, and there are hundreds to choose from - ranging from one-bedroom apartments, through to some spectacular five-bedroom waterfront houses. Great things about Hamilton Island Holiday Homes: There are plenty to choose from, ranging from one-bedroom apartments to luxurious five-bedroom homes. They’re a great option if you’re travelling with friends or family groups. Most have views and most also have their own pools. You’re still able to use most of the resort pools on the island. All holiday homes include the exclusive use of a golf buggy. Each home includes a full kitchen, laundry, TV and DVD player. You can read more about where to stay on Hamilton Island with kids here. Where to eat with kids Perhaps one of the best things about Hamilton Island is the food. When you’re travelling with young kids, you need food that’s flexible, fast and very accessible. Hell hath no fury like a two-year old who has been swimming all morning and wants a snack… NOW! Hamilton Island offers a spectrum of dining options, ranging from simple takeaway, to fine restaurants that happily welcome families before 7.30pm. We loved: Popeye’s Fish and Chips: This busy, bustling takeaway outlet is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. As well as fish and chips, they also serve up fresh seafood plates and takeaway BBQ chickens. Grab some takeaway and sit at one of the outdoor tables alongside the marina. Or bring a rug and relax in the grassed picnic area. Pick up some takeaway food and enjoy Marina Daze at the Hamilton Island Marina. Very child-friendly and relaxed. Bob’s Bakery: We went to the bakery for most of our lunchtime meals as there was plenty to choose from, including some healthy salad sandwiches for the kids (and of course, some more decadent treats for afterwards). The coffee is also great. Don’t miss a takeaway gourmet sandwich, Panini, or famous beef pie from Bob’s Bakery down at the Hamilton Island Marina. Manta Ray: We enjoyed dinner here a few times in our stay, as it has a buzzing, relaxed atmosphere in the early evenings, and it attracts plenty of families with young kids. They also do takeaway pizzas. In the day, Manta Ray serves up coffee, and offers a light lunch menu and yummy smoothies. coca chu: The newest restaurant on Hamilton Island, coca chu sits right on Catseye Beach, so you can watch the sun set as you enjoy your dinner. As well as offering a magnificent view and lovely sea breeze, the south-east Asian inspired menu is mouth-wateringly good. The magnificent views at the renowned coca chu. Romano’s: Romano’s is also a great family option, as it serves up pizza and pasta family favourites, and overlooks the marina. Sails Restaurant: We only dined here for breakfast but the view is lovely (overlooking Catseye Beach) and they also serve lunch and dinner, with lots of BBQ meat and seafood on offer. The Marina Tavern: This is another great casual child-friendly venue in the early afternoon/evening. There’s great pub-style fare, but it doesn’t have a specific kids’ menu. The IGA Supermarket is also a great place to pick up snacks for the kids and things like fresh fruit and yoghurt. You can also get household items and a range of quick and easy dinner meals. Don’t forget to enjoy breakfast with this little guy at WILD LIFE Hamilton Island. What to do Perhaps the thing that impressed us the most about Hamilton Island was how much fun stuff there was to do! With two kids who like to be kept active and entertained (sometimes round the clock), we found Hamilton Island gave us all kinds of fun options. Being a tropical island, swimming is an obvious choice - especially with little kids who love getting wet. We swam both at the beach, and in several of the island’s pools. We also spent lots of time on Catseye Beach, near the Hamilton Island Beach Sports hut. If you’re staying at the Reef View Hotel, Palm Bungalows or any of the holiday homes, you can enjoy complimentary hire of any of the non-motorised equipment, including stand-up paddleboards, sea kayaks, catamarans and windsurfers. There are no age restrictions (although only three people can be on the catamaran at the one time). Our kids loved going out on the kayaks and sailboats, or sitting on the front of our paddleboards. About as hectic as things get on Hamilton Island. As well as swimming, there’s also plenty of non-water-based activity. There’s a go-karting track that our five year old loved, and if your kids are a little older (minimum age of six), they can take a Quad Bikes for Kids ride. Our five year old also really enjoyed our game of mini golf, and if it’s raining, the indoor bowling alley is always a huge hit. We actually found the drive to Palm Valley - where several of the kids’ activities are located - fun in itself, in our rental buggy. We also loved the drive up to One Tree Hill, where we bought some drinks and nibbles and watched the spectacular sunset over the Whitsunday Islands. You can read more about our top ten things to do on Hamilton Island with kids here. A few tips: Download the Hamilton island app before you visit, and check it every day you’re there. It’s very comprehensive and easy to use. There’s a full list of detailed daily activities, so you can easily find something to suit your family. Book as much as you can in advance, especially if you’re travelling in peak season. You can make restaurant bookings online here. While the option of self-catering accommodation is fantastic, don’t underestimate the lure of Hamilton Island’s great restaurants! We ended up eating out for every meal, and so the Reef View Hotel was a perfect option for us. If you’re after some time out, don’t forget the Clownfish Club takes kids from as young as six weeks through to 14 years. There is also a well-stocked IGA Supermarket on the island where you can pick up a range of items. About the Author When she’s not daydreaming about her next holiday, Katrina spends her days working as a freelance writer in Sydney. She’s her happiest when embarking on a new adventure, accompanied by her husband and two young kids. While her travels have led her all over the world, she still thinks there’s nowhere quite like Australia. And at the end of a long day, when she’s dreaming about escaping to a tropical paradise, Hamilton Island always comes to mind.