Hamilton Island, Australia

A Pure Paradise: Australia’s Hamilton Island offers yachtsmen remote anchorages, untouched waters and sheer beauty. Story and photography by Onne van der Wal.

Hamilton Island, Australia from above

It’s only a two-hour plane ride from Sydney, Australia, but it’s a world away from anywhere. Onne van der Wal

Airplane in Hamilton Island

The final approach to Hamilton Island’s privately owned airport makes you realize you’re in the tropics.

Hamilton Island beach

The sugar-sand beaches and seemingly infinite shades of ­bathlike, teal water call out and put you in a welcome trance of peace and tranquillity.


Hamilton Island is part of the Whitsundays, which is a group of 74 islands that are just a hop, skip and a jump from the Great Barrier Reef and right off the Australian coast in Queensland, the northeastern part of the country.

Down Under seaside nirvana

This Down Under seaside nirvana is the brainchild of Bob Oatley and his son Sandy.

most luxurious resorts

After the Oatleys sold their wine business on the mainland in 2003, they purchased Hamilton Island with the goal of making it one of the most luxurious resorts worldwide.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club

And they’ve succeeded. They expanded the island’s marina and built a stunning yacht club plus qualia, a world-class facility that was voted best resort by Conde Nast Traveler in 2012.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club 2

The island consists of several hotels, resorts and private houses.

Hamilton Island Yacht Club 3

The marina and village offer a perfect place to dock your boat and provision it before starting a cruise of the surrounding islands.

Hamilton Island Marina

It’s a long haul to get here from the United States, but it’s a must-do for cruisers looking for that once-in-a lifetime trip.

Whitsundays, Australia

I was taken to my private villa overlooking the beach and the distant islands that form the ­Whitsundays.

Hamilton Island Villa

The villa was a lavish, one-bedroom affair with a private pool and outside deck.

Hamilton Island Villa 2

The bathroom, bedroom and lounge all had full-glass walls facing the ocean, which was framed by native trees.

Windward Pavilion

Windward Pavilion’s ensuite infinity pools boast views of the Coral Sea.

Hamilton Island Pavilion Villa 4

And as beautiful as the land is here, that turquoise sea beckoned.

Sailboat in Hamilton Island

I boarded the 70-foot catamaran On the Edge for a sail to Chalkies and Whitehaven beaches.

Hamilton Island Catamaran

My ride looked more like a French offshore racing catamaran than a charter boat, and she sailed like a racing cat too: super fast and very comfortable.

Ben Harper

Ben Harper, the skipper, showed me beautiful snorkeling at Chalkies Beach, and after a delicious lunch of shrimp and wine, we were off to the seemingly infinite Whitehaven Beach.

Secluded beach

Unlike in the Caribbean, you have most anchorages and sand to yourself. A crowded spot has six boats!

Hamilton Island Aerial

The ­photographer in me had to see this nautical nirvana from the sky.

Helicopter view

In a helicopter, I flew over Dent Island, adjacent to Hamilton Island, to see the island-­spanning golf course. (Yes, the island is one giant golf course.)

Hill Inlet

The next stop was the Whitsundays with their iconic Hill Inlet and multicolored sandbars covered with traces of ocean water. They look like a perfect seascape painting.

Tropical Island

Hamilton Island (and its surrounding waters) seems untouched.

pristine, unspoiled and uncrowded

It’s pristine, unspoiled and uncrowded.

Cruising Destination Hamilton Island

If you’re looking for cruising grounds that are lost in time, come here.

Tropical Flora

You’ll never forget it. I won’t.

Hamilton Island Australia contact

Hamilton Island, 866-209-0891;



Bob’s Bakery

Bob’s is the island’s only bakery.