I’ve heard nothing but praise for the picturesque Hamilton Island off the coast of Northern Queensland. A stone’s throw away from one of the world’s best beaches and with the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep, Hamilton Island offers a level of laid-back island luxury that effortlessly rivals any overseas tropical destination.

And at just over two hours from Sydney by plane, it ticks all the boxes for a blissful long weekend birthday celebration with my partner Kris. Less time aviating, more time celebrating.

Using points means that the luxury begins before we even touchdown on the island. From Sydney, we fly return to Hamilton Island in Virgin Australia Business Class for just 47,000 Velocity Points + $102 per person. That’s right – this balmy domestic island escape (in the middle of Aussie winter, mind you) cost us less than the price of a fancy dinner!

In this article, I’ll share our trip highlights and my tips for maximising your time (and saving some extra cash) on Hamilton Island.

I’ll also show you the best options for booking direct flights out of Australia’s major cities. The video below shows Hamilton Island in action.

To make it easier to replicate this trip yourself, you’ll find all the details including flight numbers and a breakdown of costs in the downloadable interactive PDF below. Don’t forget to share it with your friends!

By the way, our exclusive 110,000 Velocity Points sign-up offer with the Citi Premier credit card more than covers what you’ll need for this trip for two. Read to the end of the article to learn more, or click here for our card guide.

Flying to Hamilton Island in style

It’s Kris’ birthday, so we’ve decided to splurge a little on this one. We’re flying Business Class all the way, baby. 

An empty priority line, rapid security check and a strong coffee in the Virgin Australia Lounge kick off the trip just right.

The quick flight to Hamilton Island’s Great Barrier Reef Airport is about two and a half hours. But that’s plenty of time to enjoy a refreshing welcome orange juice and a scrumptious Business Class breakfast. Kris comments just how amazing it is we can be in the chill of winter at breakfast and be on a sun-drenched tropical island by lunch.

The land of the buggies

With oceanview hotels and a 6-star resort on offer, there are plenty of places to stay on Hamilton Island. But I’m quickly convinced an Airbnb is the ultimate choice for accommodation here. Why? Two words: free buggy.

As soon as we exit the airport we’re greeted by Herman, who hands us the keys to our very own four-seater golf buggy – the vehicle of choice on Hamilton Island. He loads up our bags on his own cart and guides us directly to our front porch, mere minutes from the terminal. We’re informed we’ll receive the same service when heading back to the airport. Airport transfers are sorted. That’s one less thing to worry about.

Most of the Airbnbs on Hamilton Island come with your own personal buggy for the duration of your stay. While there is a free-to-use shuttle bus and buggies available to rent ($130/24 hours or at a pricier hourly rate), having a buggy from the moment you touch down allows you to explore Hamilton Island at your own leisure. I’m on holiday – and that extends to my legs. 

Ad – Scroll down to continue reading.Minimum spend, terms & conditions apply.

Hamilton Island activities

We kick off a weekend of activities with an ATV tour. This takes us through the national park that makes up 70% of the island’s land mass. The tour is a bumpy yet safe ride through the bush across dirt tracks and fire trails. It’s the perfect way to get a feel for the island, taking you up to some of the island’s most spectacular lookouts and the remote Coral Cove beach. You can hike up these same trails if you’d rather save money or burn some calories. But like I said – my legs are on holiday.

While you’re never too far away from the local wildlife, there is a small wildlife park on the island featuring Aussie animals such as wallabies, crocodiles and a cassowary. We’re delighted to find the $35 entry fee ($25 for children under 14) grants you access to the park for your entire stay on the island, not just a one-time visit. There are also options for VIP meet-and-greet experiences with dingoes, reptiles and koalas. You can even find koala and lizard enclosures in the cafe out the front with no entry fee required. We eat a light breakfast while watching a koala eat theirs.

Idyllic Whitehaven Beach

The absolute highlight of the trip, though, is our cruise to Whitehaven Beach.

A 40-minute boat ride from Hamilton Island’s marina whisks us away to the pristine Whitsunday Island. Whitehaven Beach and its iconic white sand extends across the eastern side. The silica-based sand is so white the beach almost seems to glow as it sails into view. I finally decide to use my legs and walk two kilometres up the beach away from our base camp. There is no one else around, and all is silent besides the squeak of the sand beneath my feet. I test the clear blue water and discover it’s the same temperature as outside. A perfect 25 degrees.

There are a few cruise lines that take the trip out to the island, but I highly recommend Cruise Whitsundays. With the full-day ‘Chill and Grill’ package, you have access to the air-conditioned upper deck of the ship, a morning tour of Betty’s Beach and a barbecue lunch with soft drinks. Beach sports equipment and stand-up paddle boards are also free to use. Shout out to our tour guide, Redman, who provided us with wise and witty commentary throughout the day.

Dinner is served

Dining options on Hamilton Island are as plentiful as they are tasty. With only three nights on the island, we barely scratch the surface of the full offerings. But we’re able to try food and drink across a wide range of dishes and price points.

On night one we opt for a traditional pub feed at the Marina Tavern. Can’t beat the classic parmi and beer (or parma for my Victorian friends.) Being so central, it’s definitely a popular spot, quickly filling out with excited families and groups of travellers.

On day two, we take a ferry across the water to Dent Island and the 18-hole golf course, which occupies most of the island. Keen golfers will love the chance to play at this sprawling green with some of the best golf course views on earth. But for non-golfers, a hearty multi-course lunch menu awaits.

If you make a midday or 1 pm booking, you’re also given the option to take a buggy tour of the island. I love that it’s actually printed on the menu as an item you can ask your waiter for. You better believe we order a tour.

These two meals really highlight the premium dining at Hamilton Island restaurants. So, here’s a hack for the budget-minded traveller – do some grocery shopping!

On our second night we make the quick buggy journey down to the IGA at the Marina. It has everything you’d expect at a local IGA on the mainland, including a well-stocked deli, heaps of barbeque favourites and some pre-packed dinners. We ultimately settle on a pair of rice and bean stuffed capsicums for the reduced price of $6.99. And a selection of snacks. Just in case.

This same strategy can be applied to drinks. The entire island is licensed, which means you can legally drink alcohol anywhere within the bounds of the resort (although maybe don’t try it while behind the wheel of a buggy). A quick trip to the bottle shop next to the IGA ensures we have plenty of drinks for our three nights. At around $30 for a six-pack, the beers are still pricier than on the mainland. But far cheaper than the $14 schooners found at the local bars.

Finally, on the other end of the price spectrum, there’s Bommie Restaurant. Found in the Yacht Club at the north end of the marina, this fine dining establishment offers an eight-course degustation menu and one of the best sunset viewing locations on the island.

Kris orders the vegetarian option which delightfully replicates the aesthetic of the regular menu with herbivore-friendly options. We’re blown away by the sliced watermelon masquerading as yellowfin tuna. We actually have to double-check with the waiter, who stares at it for a while, then double-checks with the chef.

It’s the Westholme Wagyu beef tenderloin that wins my heart, though. Dark on the outside, transitioning down to a medium rare centre, with a dab of tomato emulsion and pink Himalayan sea salt for an extra complement of flavour. I savour every last bite, cutting it smaller and smaller in an attempt to never finish. It may sound like hyperbole here, but I stand by what I say to Kris as I slowly eat it – this cut of steak is the single best thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. 

Starting at $195 per person, it’s certainly not for everyone. But hey – if you fly here with points, maybe you have some extra cash to splash.

Getting to Hamilton Island with points

The best thing about travelling to Hamilton Island is how close it is to Australia’s east coast cities. Flights can cost less than your Uber ride to the airport!

In total, our return Business Class flights between Sydney and Hamilton Island cost 47,000 Velocity Points + $102.10 in fees and taxes per person.

That’s an absolute bargain already. But fly Economy, and you’re looking at 18,800 Velocity Points for a return trip. The $102.10 in fees and taxes remain the same regardless of fare class.

Keep in mind that this is the cost for the cheapest Economy Reward seat tier. Velocity prices its Economy Reward seats at three different tiers, so they will sometimes have a higher points cost during peak travel dates.

For those who would rather spend Qantas Points, both Qantas and Jetstar also offer direct flights to Hamilton Island. Melbourne customers will usually have to transit through Sydney or Brisbane. Here’s what you can typically expect to pay from each city:

CityVirgin AustraliaQantas Classic RewardJetstar
Economy Tier 1BusinessEconomyBusinessEconomy
Brisbane6,200 Pts + $55.5615,500 Pts + $55.568000 + $6118,400 + $61N/A
Sydney9,400 + $51.0523,500 + $51.0512,000 +$6227,600 + $629600 +$45
Melbourne14,100 + $52.4235,500 + $52.4218,000 + $9841,500 + $9814,400 + $44
All fares are one-way. Points and cash totals are accurate as of June 2024.

At these prices, I think Virgin’s flights usually represent the best value for money with the lowest points costs around the board. If reward seats aren’t available at the time or the flights aren’t priced at Tier 1, Jetstar becomes the savvier option with slightly cheaper fees and taxes. Just remember to factor in extra costs such as baggage. While Qantas comes in as the most expensive, it’s admittedly not by much. Overall, I’d be happy paying for any one of these flights. 

Don’t worry if you’re coming from other Australian cities. The total distance determines the cost of reward flights travelled, so it won’t cost too much extra! A flight from Adelaide, even with a connection through Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, will still cost you as little as 14,100 Velocity Points per person one-way, with similar fees and taxes. The same applies to Darwin-based passengers who connect through Brisbane. Travelling from Perth can cost a minimum of 17,600 Velocity Points one-way, no matter which airport you connect through.

Need help building your points balance? Read our guide on the best ways to earn Velocity Points here. Want to bring your whole family? Check out our exclusive 110,000 Velocity Points bonus offer with the Citi Premier Credit card.

All photography and videography by Tobias Venus, who travelled to Hamilton Island at Point Hacks’ expense.

Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and guides by subscribing to Point Hacks’ email newsletter.
Escape winter at Australia’s most iconic beach with Velocity Points was last modified: June 19th, 2024 by Tobias Venus