The second half of my summer holidays were spent at one of the most luxurious island resorts in the southern hemisphere, Qualia.
Qualia is situated on the secluded northern-most tip of Hamilton Island surrounded by all the splendour of the Great Barrier Reef.
Flying straight to Hamilton Island from Byron Bay, you’re greeted with the most pristine, crystal blue water. It’s almost an unbelievable sight, easily rivalling any Mediterranean Isle. Stepping straight off the plane, you’re greeted with a wave of tropical heat and a cool hand towel from Qualia transfer staff. You are given a quick tour of the small island before being taken to the resort and given a glass of bubbles while you check in.
Overlooking the Coral Sea, your check in could not be more relaxing. Sipping on bubbles, reclining on sun drenched lounges, the check in staff run you through all the possible activities and dining experiences. You pick and choose what you want and they make all the arrangements for you quickly and efficiently. Snorkelling, scuba diving, helicopter tours, glass bottom boating, sailing, catamarans, stand up paddle boarding, jet skis, golf and numerous spa therapies – the list feels endless.
Golf buggies are the means of transport around the island and each room at Qualia is allocated their own buggy for your personal use. What fun!
Qualia offers you the indulgent choice of 60 individual pavilions that have been perfectly nestled into the natural environment to complement the unique surroundings. All pavilions boast stunning postcard views either of the Whitsundays or the spectacular tropical bushland. We stayed in a Windward Pavillion – North-facing, shaded by Eucalypts, complete with a private sun deck, infinity plunge pool, extremely spacious bathroom with an additional outdoor shower, flawless design and soothing decor.
Our first dinner on the Island was at the Long Pavilion at the resort.
Award winning Executive Chef Alastair Waddell has refined the degustation menu to showcase the marvellous produce available locally from the Whitsunday region, vegetables grown on the island and those found throughout regional Australia. You can choose from options of four, six eight or ten courses. We chose an eight course menu, believe the hype about this restaurant, the food was incredible. My favourite was a local kingfish sashimi.
Another favourite was Coca Chu. With a fresh menu inspired by the hawker-style street food of South East Asia, Coca Chu offers a fun, relaxed vibe and a peaceful location overlooking Catseye Beach. A beautifully designed restaurant with lots of open space and high ceilings, if you look up, you can see bird cages artfully positioned throughout the restaurant. The stand out dishes were Betel leaves with lobster, peanuts, roasted coconut & flat leaf coriander and steamed scallop & ginger wontons with spicy chilli sichuan oil. Both equally as fresh and tasty – seconds are definitely needed.
With an underwater wonderland at your door step, bikini’s and activities go hand in hand. We took a helicopter out to the Great Barrier Reef for some snorkelling, it’s a great option if you want to see a bit more of the Whitsunday’s as the aerial views are spectacular. The crystal blues and luscious greens – it looks like something dreams are made of.
The iconic Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world’s largest coral reef, spanning 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles). The helicopter lands on a large sea barge that’s anchored on the open water. You get set up with snorkelling or scuba gear and then jump straight in. With it’s vast biodiversity, warm clear waters and unending sea life, it’s no surprise the Great Barrier Reef is one of the most magnificent natural wonders of the world.
Whitehaven Beach is protected by the Whitsunday Islands National Park, and in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s been voted the world’s top eco-friendly beach, and Queensland’s cleanest beach. Whitsunday Island’s famous beach stretches for seven kilometres and is washed by swirls of turquoise, blue and green water. The sand is 98 per cent pure white silica, which gives it a brilliant, near luminescent colour. It has limited accessibility, only via boat, helicopter or sea plane. Our helicopter landed right on the shore with with our pilot setting up a champagne brunch picnic and then disappearing along the beach. The imagery and solitude made this one of my favourite moments, i hope the pictures will show you why…
Privacy is a huge part of the experience, once those big gates close behind you, you’ll never want to or have to leave the resort.
NOTE: Have the passionfruit Mai Tai on Pebble Beach and watch the world go by.