The Whitsundays is one of the most beautiful regions in the world.
The problem we all face when visiting however, is deciding what we have time for? What we must do versus what we could go without.
For me, I knew I had to see the two main islands whilst I was there: Daydream Island and Hamilton Island. Unfortunately, we were only visiting for 4 nights, and after visiting Whitehaven Beach (which is the ultimate thing to do here); there wasn’t a whole lot of time left to do everything else on offer.
Upon researching my options, just like the Whitehaven Beach tour; I knew that Cruise Whitsundays was the best option for this with their Twin Island Escape Day Tour. Not only did it allow us the freedom to do what we wanted when touring these islands; but we had an easy transport system set up for us through the various ferries that we were booked on- and we had an included lunch! (But more about that later!)
On this tour, I was joined by my parents who like me, were eager to see the paradise that was the two most popular islands in the Whitsundays.
We arrived at the Port of Airlie Marina at Airlie Beach around 8am and found the Cruise Whitsundays terminal. We chose not to have the buffet breakfast option which was available and departed at 7am; but it is good that it is offered for those who want to.
We checked in for our tour and received an itinerary, our tickets for each ferry, and wrist bands so staff could identify us easily, should they need to.
The Twin Island Escape: First Stop Daydream Island
Our first leg was stress free. The day was beautiful, but very humid. However, being so early in the morning, the heat wasn’t too harsh which suited us well. Heading out on the water was just amazing and really makes you appreciate the region by seeing the day start out on the water.
30 minutes later, we docked at Daydream Island.
Daydream Island is not huge. Pretty much the entire Daydream Island Resort & Spa covers it; but it is a large enough island that one can enjoy for a few days as well. My mum loved it so much here that she and my Nanna are actually coming to stay here in November on their upcoming trip.
Once we stepped foot on Daydream, we had about 3.5 hours to explore and relax before our 12:25 ferry departed for Hamilton Island. This length of time is more than enough time to get a good feel for the island and the resort; so half a day here is perfection for that snapshot.
We walked along the boardwalk first. (Which once off the boat ramp here, you turn left and continue along the water). This was nice because no one else did this really, preferring to turn right and into the Resort and Spa entry; so we were relatively on our own along here.
Along the boardwalk, there was lovely views with the water and islands all around us. But there were also quirky things like the ‘Three Brothers’ statues; which centers around a tale about 3 brothers who tried to find the treasure that was buried here after their ship rain into trouble during a storm years before, but were turned into stone by Medusa when they arrived (the woman with snakes for hair) and still stand here today. We were lucky enough to see Jellyfish aka ‘stingers’ in the water too. I have never seen a dangerous stinger before, so it was really cool to see them swimming in the water below.
Daydream Island’s ‘Living Reef’ Lagoon
After our stroll, we headed next to the ‘Living Reef’ Main Lagoon which is right where the hotel lobby is located. When we were there, a group were taking a tour and they were able to hold a starfish which is how I took this picture. Pretty cool huh?
The Living Reef is really unique. It pumps in fresh water from the sea, so it is the most legitimate reef you can see outside of snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of the world’s biggest man made reefs however, with over 140 fish species and 83 species of coral. When we looked down into the reef, we could see starfish, sharks, stingrays, tropical fish and of course, we found Nemo! (And Dory!) It is really lovely to just sit and watch them all swimming around.
At 10am, there was a free feeding show given by the resort. The man who spoke to us was very informative and explained how long some of the species had been living in the reef. He also told us that majority of the picturesque sand you see within this region…has actually passed through many a fish at one point…because that’s not gross at all!
The fish were all in a good mood on this day which was good, especially the sharks like ‘Bruce’ who ripped the fish off the spear as they were being feed. (Sometimes, they won’t eat at feeding time)
After the feeding show, we explored more of the island, heading out to the pools that are located near the Mermaid restaurant.
These pools are stunning. They have such a pirate vibe to them, with wooden walkways and ropes, which really makes it look lovely. There were at least 3 pools from what we could see, but there could have been more. You could easily swim in these all day. I just sat on the edge and enjoyed the water for awhile, but my dad did take a dip.
Lover’s Cove: Daydream Island’s Hidden Gem
Lover’s Cove is just that: romantic.
I literally could have sat here all day, watching the boats go by, the swimmers snorkeling by the shore, and just enjoying the paradise of such a view. The best part about this cove is it is very secluded. To get there you have to walk through the resort’s upper level, and through a stairway, because it is on the other side of the island; but it’s only about a 10 minute walk. We literally were the only ones here, aside from some people who had been snorkeling, so it was a very relaxing hour just sitting here and taking it all in.
There is a rainforest walk near here as well which looks cool, but on this visit it wasn’t open due to an event. But if you google photos you will see what it is and can try to do it.
The ‘sand’ on the beach is a hard coral. You will need to have shoes on to walk on it, but as the coral is quite big, it is easy to walk on without issue. If you are elderly or have mobility issues you will still be able to walk on it, but just watch your step as you can slip on uneven surfaces if you’re not paying attention.
The people who were snorkeling when we got there, pointed out the tropical fish that were swimming on the shore. The guy was feeding them with specially bought food from the Living Reef store, so you can buy some yourself and head down here to feed the fish. Although the photo isn’t 100% clear, you can make out the pod of fish that are there. It was really amazing to see.
The Twin Island Escape: Second Stop Hamilton Island
Boarding our ferry from Daydream Island, we set off for Hamilton Island, arriving just before 1pm.
Hamilton Island is the most popular island in the Whitsundays. It is the place many choose to get married and rightfully so. However, it is very large in size, with a driving tour of the island taking approx. 40 mins to do.
The thing that makes Hamilton Island so unique however, is that majority of the transport here is by buggy. Although there are a small number of vans and shuttle buses, there aren’t any cars here. This just adds to the tranquil feel of the island. You can walk around here however it is really only an option for the marina area as it will kill you to walk uphill. So just hire a buggy or take the free shuttle.
The Marina Tavern: A Fantastic Eatery On Hamilton Island
We headed to the Marina Tavern, which was a 10 minute walk from the port we arrived in, and sits overlooking the Hamilton Island marina.
The Marina Tavern is an ideal place for a casual drink, a pub meal or just a relaxed rest stop. As our lunch was included, we weren’t sure how good it would be, but were left pleasantly surprised. My parents ordered the Aussie classic, the Chicken Parmigiana (with a tropical twist), whilst I ordered a Sweet Chilli Chicken Wrap. Both meals came with fries and salad.
For an idea, most meals here cost between $17-20, so to have this as an inclusion was really good value. We found a table looking out onto the marina, which made this meal everything we wanted for our time on Hamilton Island. The view here was perfection.
As our final ferry was departing at 4:55pm, we had around 2 hours after we finished our meal to explore, so we took the shuttle that toured the island (purple line) which came approx. every 40 minutes and would take us on a 40 minute tour around the island.
Touring Hamilton Island
There are two lookouts on Hamilton Island which you can be dropped off at, but then you will have to wait for the next shuttle. As we only had so much time once the shuttle arrived, we just chose to remain on board and enjoy seeing the hotels, houses, views and ambiance of the island that one can only feel by driving around it and seeing it for yourself.
We relaxed after the shuttle tour with some ice cream, and stocked up on liquids since it was still very humid, and we had an hour long ferry to take back to Airlie Beach after our awesome day.
But before we boarded, we took in one last walk along the marina and enjoyed the beautiful sites of this island paradise.
And of course, one last buggy shot!
We returned to Airlie Beach, sun kissed and wind swept, just like the rest of the passengers, which made for a very quiet return back (and a funny one at that); but with memories of a perfect day in the ultimate paradise, it didn’t bother us at all!
If you want a snapshot of the islands, or are just short on time but you still want to see as much as possible in the Whitsundays; this tour allows you to have that. You truly get to experience paradise on a tour like this.
The Twin Island Escape Tour was provided by Cruise Whitsundays for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and based solely on my experience on this tour.