If you think that an Australian tropical island holiday is out of reach, think again. Today, Leon shares just how affordable (and how much fun) a stay on Daydream Island can be.
We’re approaching Hamilton Island airport and I look out the window to catch a glimpse of the tropical paradise beneath me. I’ve always dreamt of a tropical island holiday. Today that dream becomes reality.
We touchdown at the tiny airport. The hatch opens and I am shirtfronted by stifling heat and humidity. Mind you, I’d flown from Melbourne where, only four hours prior, I was wearing a puffer vest and long sleeves. Our luggage is picked up by porters and moved to the launch we’ll take to Daydream Island.
A quick switch to shorts and T-shirt and the heat no longer seems so, well, hot. Within 30 minutes we’re on our launch threading through the Whitsunday Islands well on our way to living the dream. For five nights, anyway.
We alight the launch and traipse off the pier onto the boardwalk and are greeted by a ukulele player and the smiling faces of the staff at Daydream Island Resort. A beautiful shell necklace ‘lei’ is placed over our heads, we are welcomed with a fruity mocktail and introduced to the facilities, told that the cockatoos will steal things from our rooms and led to the front desk to check in.
With all formalities aside, we enter our ‘Garden View’ room, which is large, bright, airy and, most importantly, cool. So far, Daydream has typified the ideal tropical island experience.
Now in more resort-type attire, we do a quick walkabout of the island. Accommodation is situated at the north end of the island, while the south end houses entertainment, water sports, mini golf and the island staff. The pools are a feature of the island and we waste little time acquainting ourselves with them.
Admittedly, prior to setting foot on the island, the quality of food was a concern for me. Those concerns were allayed after the first night. The island has many eating options. There are themed buffets at Waterfalls, fancier dining at Mermaids, a bakery and a cruisier pub-styled restaurant called Fish Bowl. You can even call and collect meals to eat in your room or al fresco. There are also quite a few bars, both in pool and out, that serve food during the day.
I am a beer-lover, so to say there was a decent beer list would be a stretch. In fact, it was average to say the least. But beer was also the least of my worries and most of the others were washed away once I set foot in the brilliant blue Whitsunday water.
We’re spending six days on the island and although there’s an array of activities available both on the island and off, I was pretty keen to get my feet up, sit beach or poolside with a good book and just enjoy the sun and sea breezes.
It’s the first week of November and, by all accounts, this is the best time of the year to visit. I must say, there is a lot of island to people ratio. Although it’s a tiny island, there’s plenty of space for us to spend quiet, intimate time together.
I will say, the breakfast buffet is amazing. We sit alongside the living reef, which, as it suggests, is a living reef packed with coral fish, rays and sharks. While we feed our faces, we watch children feeding bamboo sharks and barramundi. Each day I’ve eaten so much that I need to sit poolside for an hour afterwards just to digest. But, as it’s included in our accommodation costs, it’s a great way to save money on lunch!
Another highlight is the day-long snorkelling tour we take with the boys at Ocean Rafting. We’re sped out on a converted rescue craft to Whitehaven Beach, which really does live up to the hype. We hike up to Hill Inlet and get some sensational selfies overlooking one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Then we head out to some spectacular fringe reefs, swimming and snorkelling amidst a rainbow of reefs and fish. It’s definitely worth the spend and, for the best reef experience, I can’t recommend these guys highly enough.
Over five fabulous nights we eat, drink, snorkel, sail, swim and generally frolic about. Time flies when you’re unwinding on a deckchair on Lover’s Cove looking at the sun with a margarita in one hand and Cormac McCarthy in the other.
And to think we have all this for under $2000 for the two of us. We have to pay for dinner and our own drinks, which, if you stock up at breakfast, really isn’t as expensive as you would think. And hey, it’s a tropical holiday just off the coast of Australia. The people are friendly, the staff are super and the facilities, which would have been top notch in the eighties, have been well-looked after and are still high quality to this day.
The snorkelling on the island is fantastic. Seriously. You walk into one foot of water and you’re swarmed by fish of all colours. Oh, and when they say the ‘stingers’ are out, don’t do what we did and swim about for four days without a stinger suit. Those things can kill you.
If you want to visit Daydream Island, I recommend doing so in November (apart from the second week – unless you want to hang out with the schoolies crowd), or in March and April. The weather is perfect – not too hot or rainy – and the place isn’t packed, so you don’t have to smell the person sitting next to you at breakfast or dinner.
With regular special offers, such as stay 5 pay 4 deals and packages, such as the one we purchased, which included return flights from Melbourne, room upgrade, daily buffet breakfast and ferry transfers all for under $2000, Daydream Island is one of the more affordable Australian tropical island destinations and one you should consider if you’ve ever wanted to kick back, relax and enjoy Australia’s most famous reef island.
Have you stayed at Daydream Island? What did you think?