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If the diving spots closest to the Queensland coast are too crowded for you, consider trekking a few miles east of the mainland to Hamilton Island. It's the largest inhabited island of the Whitsundays (a collection of 74 islands situated off central Queensland's coast), yet 70 percent of it remains undeveloped. Besides its phenomenal diving, Hamilton Island is a prime spot for sailing and features amenities like bars and restaurants, a marina and Catseye Beach. Australia's only 18-hole golf course on a private island is also situated just off shore on Dent Island.
Previous visitors loved checking out the shops and restaurants at the Hamilton Island Marina and hiking to the top of Passage Peak, the island's highest point. Many also suggest renting water sports equipment like kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear at Catseye Beach during high tide.
The fastest and most convenient way to get to Hamilton Island is by plane. As the main air hub for the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island welcomes flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns via Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia Airlines and Qantas. You can also hop on a regional flight from other central coastal towns like Mackay, Prosperine and Airlie Beach. If you'd rather enjoy an extended scenic route, take a coach bus from Brisbane, Townsville or Cairns to Airlie Beach and catch a ferry to Hamilton Island from Shute Harbour.
Cars are not permitted on Hamilton Island, so plan on walking, renting a golf cart or using the island's complimentary shuttle service. Buses travel along two routes every day between 6:50 a.m. and 11 p.m. The island is free to visit, and six accommodation options are available if you wish to stay on-site. Visit Tourism Whitsundays' Hamilton Island page for more information about area hotels, activities, events and transportation options.
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