Hamilton Island: Family fun in the sun

There are few destinations as family-friendly as Hamilton. 

Flying in over a sea of analogous blue-greens – ultramarine, cerulean and turquoise – we appear to be in Tahiti. 

But the friendly "g'day, how ya' goin?" sets it squarely in  Far North Queensland.

Still, there's a sense of style: Bommie, the restaurant in the yacht club, rivals the five-star eateries in our capital cities.

We're in a villa next to the club, which Taj and Grace quickly dub, "The most amazing place we've ever stayed". 

Tweens are world champions when it comes to hyperbole. But I'm tempted to agree. This self-contained, ultra-modern, four-bedroom townhouse has expansive decks with views over Dent Passage. 

The piece de resistance – aside from the infinity pool – is your own golf buggy, which the kids decide they're old enough to drive. (Note: they are not.)

This is the ideal vehicle with which to explore the vertiginous drives on the island: The view from One Tree Hill is breathtaking. 

Since 2004, the Oatley family has spent more than $450 million upgrading the facilities. There's an 18-hole golf course, massive gymnasium, tennis courts, a pocket-sized zoo, and the luxurious qualia​ resort.


We sneak inside for a couples' massage at the day spa. (Yes, there's a nanny service on the island. Yippee!) It's so relaxing, Jase has to drag me back to the villa: My fingernail marks decorate the floor of the foyer.

With an average temperature of 27 degrees year round, this joint is all about water sports.

Non-motorised vessels are free if you stay at the Yacht Club Villas. But be warned: book in advance. Rapidly shifting tides mean tiny windows of opportunity for using pleasure-craft. Taj sits on the front of my paddleboard as we watch the sun sink from the sky, while Grace and Jase madly whack a small ball as part of a ping-pong contest.

There are kids' menus in most of the restaurants, some of which are cheekily expensive. Check out coca chu, inspired by Asian street hawkers, overlooking Catseye Beach. The red braised beef cheek with orange peel, chilli spring onion and prickly ash is a party in my mouth.  

For breakfast, try the Marina cafe; Manta Ray serves delicious pizzas; and Bob's Bakery is the go-to for sausage rolls.  

Our advice is to bring provisions for breakfast and lunch from your local grocery store, or through the delivery service from IGA at Airlie Beach.

The Hamilton Island General Store has a wide range of products, but it costs too much to feed the whole family.

In the costly-but-worth-it category is the Great Barrier Reef snorkelling tour with Explore. All the equipment you need is on board. (They even dress me in three wetsuits, as it's unexpectedly chilly for this time of year.)

The kids take turns using the go-pro to film butterfly fish, manta rays and reef sharks at three dive sites.

If you're seeking the beauty of French Polynesia – without paying a pretty penny – take the family to "Hamo".

Sure, the service can be relaxed. But there's nowhere else in Australia quite like it.

Tracey Spicer and family travelled courtesy of Hamilton Island and Virgin Australia.