We were looking forward to breaking out our skis for a weekend in Queenstown, New Zealand, but couldn’t quite justify the cost for a short trip. So instead we looked northwards, to Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, where we could go snorkeling in the midst of winter without fear of jellyfish stings.
Great long weekend getaway. Our chalet rental came with a golf buggy, which we used to explore around the island. We were definitely grateful to drive it up and down the steep One Tree Hill peak multiple times over the course of our stay for the cheap $10 cocktails and the beautiful sunsets on the peak.
Our one grouse about staying on a resort island – limited and overly strict regulations on sport rental. There was a single kayak rental on the island (!!!), on the long Catseye Beach, but we were restricted to paddling within a 1km perimeter. Same with the catamaran rental. Gah. So we rented a dinghy instead to explore the nearby islands. Even then, we weren’t allowed to wander too far off, or even circumnavigate Hamilton Island. On hindsight, we should have brought our own kayaks. But hey, it was fun driving our own little dinghy.
Unfortunately, the snorkeling leaves much to be desired around Hamilton Island. We’re not sure how much of that is due to Cyclone Debbie that ravaged the area in April, but there were barely any coral around, nor much fish to see. So we booked ourselves on a snorkeling tour to the Outer Barrier Reefs on a day trip. Happy to report that the reefs there are still really healthy and abundant, if not the most colorful. Tons of fishes.