Visiting a Whitsunday island resort can be a highlight of a bareboat charter.
It’s a chance to mix those back-to-nature experiences on deserted beaches with the little luxuries of life like cocktails by the pool and fine dining.
Some of our Whitsunday island resorts are accessible by boat, while others are perfect for a couple of additional nights pre or post charter.
Time to Daydream
This week we’re celebrating the re-opening of Daydream Island Resort.
Just 2.5 nautical miles northeast of Shute Harbour on the mainland, Daydream Island has long been a favourite of visitors to the Whitsundays and locals alike.
According to 100 Magic Miles author, David Colfelt, Daydream Island was named after its founder’s yacht.
Major Lee ‘Paddy’ Murray, his wife Connie, and their dog Toby, sailed to the island from Sydney in 1930, and fell in love with the place.
Fringed by coral and sand beaches, with a tropical rainforest interior, the island has come a long way since the days of the Murray’s original tourist accommodation offerings.
In its hey-day Daydream Island Resort was owned by vitamin king Vaughan Bullivant, who sold it to the China Capital Investment Group (CCIG) in 2015.
In 2016, Cyclone Debbie proved the catalyst for a spectacular $140 million rebuild.
Yesterday (April 15), Daydream Island resort re-opened its doors, unveiling 277 contemporary suites, three signature restaurants, three new bars, a revitalised pool landscape and the world-famous ‘Living Reef’.
This free-form coral lagoon wraps 200 metres around the central building, holds over 1.5 million litres of water and is home to over 100 species of fish, coral, invertebrates, stingrays and reef sharks.
For the first time in its history, guests will be able to explore the Living Reef on guided snorkelling tours with the island’s marine biologists including Tourism and Events Queensland ambassador Johnny Gaskell.
A new underwater observatory will also allow guests to view the action from four metres under the surface of the water without getting wet.
As well as learning about the Living Reef, kids will have the chance to become Eco Warriors at the Kids Club, while the adults kick back at the ‘Barefoot Bar’.
The ladies among our charterers might be interested to know Australian actor Lincoln Lewis has become Daydream Island’s first ambassador.
We can’t promise he’ll be on the island when you visit, but of course there’s always the chance!
Other than a calm weather anchorage at Sunlovers Bay, Daydream Island was previously accessible to bareboaters via six swing moorings outside its man-made harbour on the east coast.
The harbour has been rebuilt, but for the moment Daydream’s team is concentrating on welcoming the first overnight guests.
Hot Tip: Follow us at #GoBareboating on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date with further developments for bareboats at Daydream.
Photo credits: @daydreamislandresort
Holiday on Hamo
One of the island resorts you can definitely visit by boat is Hamilton Island.
In fact, this isn’t so much an island resort as an island full of resorts.
The only one of the Whitsunday islands with a permanent population, Hamilton Island boasts shops, restaurants, bars, a nightclub, laundry and bathroom facilities, fuel, a full-blown marina precinct, post office, real estate and even a jet airport.
Photo credit: @pipi_hao
The story of Hamilton Island is the stuff that legends are made of.
The island still owes much of its character to the incorrigible Keith Williams, who founded the original resort in 1982 and rebuilt it from the ashes of a fire in 1986.
In 2003 the lease was acquired by the Oatley family.
For the remainder of his long years, patriarch Robert Oatley poured time, money and passion into making Hamilton Island one of the jewels in Australia’s tourism crown.
That vision is now being continued by his son, Sandy.
From the sweeping curves of the Walter Barda-designed Hamilton Island Yacht Club roof (often dubbed the Opera House of the north), to the 18-hole championship golf course on neighbouring Dent Island, designed by five-time British Open winner, Peter Thompson, Hamilton Island doesn’t fail to impress.
Photo credit: @visithamiltonisland
Luxury accommodation has been redefined at the island’s six-star ‘qualia’ resort, although there are also several options for visitors watching their wallets.
Transport on the island is via golf buggies, available for hire from the marina precinct – a great way of zipping between the island’s attractions at Catseye Beach and a sunset cocktail in the little bar at One Tree Hill.
Berths at the Hamilton Island Marina need to be booked in advance and can be arranged by contacting the marina on VHF Channel 68 or through your #GoBareboating charter company.
Access is via the Dent Passage where on-water marina concierge staff will meet you and guide you to your allocated berth.
Staff are also on hand to take your lines as you dock and provide you with an overview of the marina and resort facilities available as part of the berthing fee during your stay.
Check-in and check-out is at 11am, and berthing fees are charged in accordance with the vessel size and type.
Berthing fees are payable to the marina direct.
Charterers wanting to fly in or out of the Whitsundays at Hamilton Island can arrange vessel pick up or drop off at the marina with any of our #GoBareboating companies.
Hot Tip: Always book ahead to secure a berth in busy times when the marina may be full.
Photo credit: @dantvusa
Perfect Palm Bay
Nestled into the neck of Long Island and facing the Whitsunday mainland coast is Long Island’s Palm Bay.
Here you’ll find a tropical oasis that will take your breath away.
Photo credit: @photobohemian
The unique self-catering resort offers a tranquil place to relax and rejuvenate and is affordable for all.
Access is via a dredged channel and lagoon where there are two moorings available for hire at a cost of $50 per boat (for the mooring only).
Guests wanting to moor and make use of the resort facilities are charged at $100 per boat, including the first two people, with every additional person charged at $15 per adult and $10 per child.
Facilities include the resort pool, tennis court, TV room, hire of kayaks and snorkelling gear. There are no public showers.
Photo credit: @photobohemian
For those wanting to self-cater and top up the supplies, a small shop, open from 7am-7pm stocks basic supplies.
Make use of the fully equipped self-contained cooking facilities – staff will even wash up for you!
Alternatively, enjoy food from the restaurant, serving lunches and dinners including salads, weekly specials and a range of delicious wood-fired pizzas.
Beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks are all available from the bar.
The resort is fully licensed so there’s no BYO.
Booking in advance is essential and can be done by calling 1300 655 126 direct. All fees are payable to Palm Bay Resort direct.
Due to the fact the resort also hosts weddings and private functions, pre-booking is equally important for guests just wanting to come for lunch or drinks,
If you’re anchored around the corner at Happy Bay and decide to walk to the resort, call ahead to avoid disappointment.
Hot Tip: Anyone looking for a bit of additional pampering can book in for a massage, facial, manicure, pedicure, or body wrap at the Palm Blue spa. Spa services are by advance bookings only and can be made by calling 0409 100 611 or 0413 652 277 direct.
Photo credit: @palmbayresort
At the bottom of Long Island in aptly named Paradise Bay, lies Elysian Retreat.
Belonging to the Sojourn Retreats collection of boutique properties on the Great Barrier Reef, Elysian is a relatively new offering for the Whitsundays, having only just opened in 2019.
Accommodation for adults only is in 10 beautifully appointed air-conditioned oceanfront villas, with three gourmet meals served daily.
Access is via helicopter and specified boat charter.
Hot Tip: sorry folks, this one’s not for bareboats but might be a place you’d like to visit before or after your charter or on a return Whitsundays trip.
Photo credit: @elysianretreat
The Hayman experience
At the northern end of the Whitsunday archipelago, Hayman Island is a legendary name in Australian tourism.
Originally opened as ‘Royal Hayman’ by Sir Reginald Ansett in 1950, Hayman Island’s Resort is about to emerge from its latest transformation to an InterContinental resort.