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Great Barrier Reef II

Thursday, July 24, 2008
If you've not been able to choose the Great Barrier Reef island just right for you, here are some more to ponder — and there will be more next week.

Hayman Island

Hayman is the Whitsunday's northern-most island. Its five-star resort has 212 superb rooms, suites, penthouses and a villa, all with terraces or balconies. There are four wings — Retreat, Pool, Lagoon and Beach — all sporting tropical gardens with shady ponds and waterfalls. The resort sits on a crescent-shaped, white, sandy bay and has been designed to blend with the natural beauty.

Hayman has a chapel for weddings or reaffirmation vows, a health retreat, beauty salon and children's activities. The marine centre offers Great Barrier Reef cruises, fishing, diving, and helicopter and seaplane flights.

Dining options range from intimate dinners served on your balcony to casual meals by the pools or in the more sophisticated restaurant.

Tariff: Accommodation starts at $580 a night. The Endless Summer package includes accommodation and buffet breakfast. The winter bonus offer allows you to extend your stay; pay for three nights and receive a complimentary fourth night.

Long Island

The closest island to the mainland, Long Island is a 20-minute cruise from Shute Harbour or Hamilton Island. Long Island Resort is ideal for families and budget-conscious travellers. It sits on the beach of Happy Bay and has loads of water activities and a free club for four- to 14-year-olds.

There are 20km of walking tracks that wind through 850 hectares of national park. There are also palm-fringed beaches and mountains and a coral reef just 150m off shore. Snorkels, fins and other equipment are available.

On the other side of the island, Peppers Palm Bay offers serene seclusion for couples. Twenty-one bungalows, bures and cabins and one two-bedroom suite are luxuriously comfortable, and the elegant accommodation comes with attentive staff adept at pampering.

Swaying palms and turquoise water are picture perfect and the ideal invitation for swimming, fishing and snorkelling. Take your own boat and gourmet lunch to a secluded beach in the national park, laze by the pool or gently sway in a hammock. La Riviera serves fine cuisine and wine.

Tariff: Garden rooms start at $270 a night. Peppers rooms start at $460 a night. Bures are $658 a night.

Hamilton Island

Now, here is an island that spoils you for choice. Hamilton Island accommodation ranges from high-rise resort to basic self-catered apartments to over-the-top boutique luxury resorts.

Hamilton, the largest inhabited island is in the heart of the Whitsundays and is the only island with facilities for direct commercial flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.

More than 80 percent of Hamilton has been preserved in its natural state and visitors indulge in wonderful beaches, unspoilt nature trails and secluded hideaways. A recent $56 million investment has allowed refurbishment and upgrading, as well as the introduction of new facilities.

There are 10 restaurants, masses of beach activities and a marina full of ways to get you out on the water and into holiday mode.

Tariff: Three-star rooms start at $282 a night, three-and-a-half to four-star rooms from $330 and five-star rooms $570.

South Molle Island

For a cheap and cheerful island holiday, head to South Molle Island. It has accommodation ranging from beachfront villas with gorgeous ocean views to affordable resort rooms that are comfortable and well-maintained. Most of the island's action happens around the pool and the waterfall spa keeps children amused and happy for most of the day.

South Molle has some of Australia's best walking tracks and a spectacular lookout from Mt Jeffrey. The island even has a nine-hole golf course! To get there take a 30-minute ferry ride from Hamilton or a 25-minute launch trip from Shute Harbour.

Tariff: Reef rooms are $178 per person a night; Whitsunday rooms $197; Beachcomber rooms $216 a night — all twin share. Children three to 14 years of age are $61 a night. Prices valid until March 31, 2009. All meals, and non-motorised and nightly activities are included.

Lindeman Island

Lindeman is home to Club Med. If you're looking for the complete family holiday, this is it. Club Med invented the kids' club concept and it's alive and well. Even newborns can be taken care of.

Lindeman Club Med is like being on a cruise ship holiday, but on land — accommodation, meals, most drinks and activities are included. There are 218 rooms — some on the beach, others on the hill rising behind the beach.

The resort features two pools, archery, golf course and tennis courts, day spa and all sorts of water sports — all on 690 hectares of World Heritage national park. Maybe the star attraction is the circus school with a 10m-high trapeze.

Tariff: Eight night packages start at $1692 for adults and $1015 for children between four and 11 years of age, land only. Three gourmet meals each day, open bar and snacks are included. Kids' clubs, nightly entertainment, transfers and taxes are included. Early bird booking bonus offers a 25 percent discount for bookings made three months in advance.

Daydream Island

Daydream is a 15-minute ferry ride from the mainland and its 289 rooms cater for everyone from families to couples looking for a secluded romantic getaway. There are three huge pools, aquariums filled with marine species and a club for children up to 12 years of age.

When you are ready for a meal or drink there are plenty of options, including: Waterfalls Buffet Restaurant, Mermaids, Fish Bowl Tavern, Boathouse Bakery, Lagoon's Bar, Splashes Swim-up Pool Bar and Gilligan's Health Hut. You can even enjoy a bite on the Rejuvenation Spa balcony and there are snacks in the lobby shop.

Diving, snorkelling, water sports and off-island activities are available. Some are complimentary, some incur a small cost.

Tariff: Rooms start at $334 double per night.

Hook Island

Hook is the second largest Whitsunday Island and is like stepping back in time. It was built in the 1960s and has the charm of a good old-fashioned Aussie family holiday. It also claims to be the cheapest resort in the area and that doesn't mean you miss out of secluded beaches and wonderful national parks.

The island is separated from Whitsunday Island by Hook Passage, a deep, narrow channel full of fish, turtles and whales. Nara and Macona inlets on Hook's southern side are two fjord-like indentations and are popular anchorage spots. The northern coast has colourful coral growths, popular with snorkelling and diving enthusiasts. An underwater observatory has windows onto the reef so everyone can enjoy the beauty and colour.

Accommodation choices include camping, a dormitory, a standard cabin with shared facilities and a cabin with an ensuite. There is a coffee shop, barbecue area and beachside bar. There are no telephones or televisions in the rooms, but public telephones are available.

Tariff: Camping costs $45 a double a night. Rooms range between $120 and $150 a night.

Whitehaven Beach

This pristine, award-winning beach on Whitsunday Island, is a must, must Great Barrier Reef experience. The 7km of brilliant silica sand is close to pure, and as your feet sink into it, and the warm waves lap your legs, you will understand why it is a must, must visit.

Hill Inlet at the northern end of the beach has tidal shifts creating a fusion of magnificent colours. It's breathtaking — and some say, the most beautiful place they have ever seen. Ferries and luxury yachts have day trips to Whitehaven from Airlie Beach. Sailing companies offering multi-day charters always include a visit to Whitehaven.

With all the beauty nature has endowed on our Great Barrier Reef, it's difficult to nominate "most beautiful" but Whitehaven Beach might just pip it in!

Location

Off the Queensland coast.

Cost

Virgin Blue has flights to the Whitsundays.

One-way fares from:

  • Brisbane $95
  • Sydney $118
  • Melbourne $205
  • Adelaide $285
  • Perth $345
Prices are correct at July 24, 2008.

For further information

Hayman Island
Ph: 1800 075 175 or 02 8272 7000
www.haymanisland.com.au

Long Island
Ph: 1800 075 125
www.oceanhotels.com.au
www.peppers.com.au

Hamilton Island
www.hamiltonisland.com.au

South Molle Island
Ph: 1800 075 080
www.southmolleisland.com.au

Club Med Lindeman Island
Ph: 1800 258 263
www.clubmed.com.au

Daydream Island
Ph: 1800 075 040
www.daydreamisland.com

Hook Island
Ph: (07) 4946 9380
info@hookislandresort.com

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789
www.virginblue.com.au

Check out our celebrity Getaway blog or our photo gallery for more Getaway adventure pics.

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