There really is no better way to 'get away from it all' than to hop aboard a racy little motor cruiser moored on Hamilton Island's jetty and head north between a startling canopy of vivid blue sky and crystal clear, warm waters dotted with untouched palm-strewn islands. It would almost be enough to cruise around for a few hours soaking up the visual Utopia, the sun and champagne, then head home again - almost! But the island lying immediately north of Hamilton is your chosen destination. The paradise surrounding you is simply a small part in a bigger scene and this luxurious little motor cruiser a means to an end. The end is Hayman Island and you are about to make a grand entrance.
What to Expect
There is no question about the pleasure-giving qualities of this place. You only have to look at it to know that it is as close to heaven as anywhere else on the planet. Known on the circuit as one of the most spectacular diving resorts in the world, the whole island has a depth of quality that is almost tangible on the warm Pacific air. People smile here. They also laugh a good deal. The pace is your own to speed up or slow down at will. There's no one to tell you what to do but several people to make sure you get exactly what you want.
Most people want water. It is not obligatory to sail, dive, swim, snorkel etc. There are plenty of land-based things to do but it's worth remembering that there is no sea clearer than this sea, no coral more colourful, no marine life more vivid, no scenery more stunning.
Where to Stay
Sitting in the heart of this glorious display of nature is the understated elegance of the resort accommodation. Everything in the design blends perfectly with the natural beauty of the island and was imaginatively created to make the utmost of the surroundings. Every room is a subtle mix of relaxing island ambience and sheer unashamed luxury with a multitude of extra pleasures for the taking; spa baths, butler service, valets, 24-hour room service, private balconies - the list is endless. The problem is which view to choose. Beach, sea, island, tropical garden - they are all equally stunning. The dedication of the staff is central to the success of this remarkable resort. Achieving excellence in all areas is the minimum requirement. The result is a seamless flow of soft-footed service quietly and competently moving between the sumptuously laden dining tables, the period furnishings of the luxuriant ante rooms, the tranquil walls of the resort gallery and outside into the most beautiful playground under the sun.
Since receiving the status of World Heritage Site in 1982, the Great Barrier Reef has been strictly monitored and jealously protected. Having access to the 2500 kilometres of this bizarrely colourful evolutionary wonder is yet another privilege Hayman's guests are invited to enjoy.
Scuba diving is obviously the best for a full-blown experience and Hayman offer the short PADI diving certificate for first timers. But you don't have to get in the water to see the spectacular giant clams and turtles, schools of neon fish, spiky urchins and enormous turquoise formations. Glass-bottomed boats come a close second if diving doesn't appeal. For wildlife spotting on a grand scale, it is worth visiting Hayman between July and mid-September when the waters become home to a large school of humpbacked whales and whale-watching excursions are a daily occurrence.
It quite simply doesn't get any better than this and my sentiment is in good company. In the 2000 Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, Hayman Island came fourth in the reader's poll with a rating of 93. The only down side I could find is that no one is permitted residency on the island so unfortunately buying a property of one's own here is not an option - it's just a holiday idyll.
It is necessary to obtain a visa for entry into Australia. Three-month tourist visas are the norm.
This is an all year round resort. Very pleasant in spring and autumn, cool in winter and hot in summer. Between November and March it can be very hot with up to ten hours of strong sunshine. Lotions are available in resort shops, but be aware of the necessity for high factor sunscreen, suitable clothing and eye protection.
All water sports equipment is available to hire from the resort.
There is a small selection of shops on the island selling everything from clothes to camera film.
Hayman Resort, Great Barrier Reef, North Queensland 4801 Australia
Tel: +61 (0)7 4940 1234
Fax: +61 (0)7 4940 1567
The official web site is: http://www.hayman.com.au
Non-resort web site: http://www.greatbarrierreef.aus.net