The luxury catamaran that takes you on the scenic ride from Hamilton Island to Hayman Island is like a floating limo. With glass of champagne in hand, you quickly get into the holiday mode. Once there, and settled into lodgings, everyone is keen to get out and about. Here are some of the island experiences on offer.
Sand Flats Discovery Walk
Hayman is all about the ocean, but you might not realise how much is going on underneath the water. Join one of the rangers on a guided walk through the sand flats at low tide to see starfish and crabs in the sand, and walk right to the edge of the reef to see turtles swimming by and, if you’re as lucky as my daughter and me, see a multi-coloured sea snake before it speeds off to less crowded waters.
Whitehaven Indulgence Picnic
The white sand of whitehaven Beach is world famous. This seven-kilometre stretch along the eastern edge of Whitsunday Island is home to some of the whitest sand in the world, and it’s just a quick helicopter flight or boat ride from Hayman. The resort will pack a basket with a gourmet lunch (and bubbles for the adults) and take you to an isolated spot on the beach for a private picnic.
Hayman Wildlife Encounters
Explore the grounds on your own or take a guided walk with one of the rangers to discover the abundant wildlife on the island. The tropical grounds of the resort are home to kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets, sulphur-crested cockatoos, egrets, curlews, currawongs and sea eagles. Hayman Island is also the world’s largest habitat of the endangered Proserpine rock wallaby and you’ll see them hopping around the grounds in the early mornings. Barramundi, swans and ducks cruise around the lagoons and you can feed fish, stingrays and turtles in the marina. Don’t miss feeding time for Jacko, the giant grouper who has lived in the marina for 20 years and weighs in at over 200 kilograms. Also, beware of the very protective father goose that likes to puff up his wings and make himself intimidating while you walk to the pools. It’s a very big show and he means no harm, but he may startle you as he keeps watch over who sees his youngsters.
Hiking and Bushwalking
If you’re looking to stay on dry land for a while there are some great hiking and bushwalking trails around the island, running past mangroves, rocky inlets and secluded beaches perfect for a quick dip. The trail to the top of Cook Lookout, the tallest point on Hayman Island, is four kilometres and the climb takes around 90 minutes. There are great views over the Whitsundays and to Hook Island. All the hikes are well worth the time as it’s a nice opportunity to see the area as well as exercise off some of the great food you’ve been indulging on.
Children from 12 years old can learn to dive at Hayman. Introductory dive courses teach the basics before heading out for a 40-minute dive at Blue Pearl Bay, one of the island’s most popular dive spots and a great place for beginners with shallow waters and gentle currents. There are a number of dive spots on the inner and outer reef for more experienced divers and three-day PADI certification courses are also available. If anyone is nervous about heading straight out into open water the resort runs “try dives” in the swimming pool to build confidence and the PADI Bubblemaker program runs during the school holidays for eight to 12 year olds to give them a taste of scuba diving.
Langham Island and Blue Pearl Bay
Both these excursions were fantastic in their own way. Langham Island is within sight of the resort and is a tiny little island that almost disappears at high tide. Just a quick 10-minute journey from the dock, you’re dropped off with chairs and umbrellas to enjoy a great snorkelling spot. We counted over 20 sea turtles and most were unbothered by our presence and didn’t object to a very, very close look. The journey to Blue Pearl Bay is longer but is well worth the 20-minute boat trip to find another incredible snorkelling spot with an abundance of colourful fish and more turtles. The resort had us fill out a picnic menu the night before and presented us with a basket full of our desires to spread out under the umbrellas. It was a very memorable experience and one that I would highly recommend doing.