Paradise Found: A Visit to Hamilton Island Part 1

HAMILTON ISLAND is the largest of the Whitsunday Islands and is the gateway to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. The lush green hills of the island quickly give way to the warm, azure waters of the Coral Sea and it is at junction of the two, on the northern end of the island that you’ll find luxury resort qualia.

Yes, luxury is a word that is overused today but it’s hard to find a superlative that more accurately captures the qualia experience and it’s an experience that begins as soon as you step foot off the plane.

The waters surrounding Hamilton Island


Our flight was met by qualia representatives who greeted us by name and handed us fresh face cloths and cool bottles of mineral water before collecting our bags from the carousel and delivering them straight to our pavilion.

We entered the resort through the large wood and stone gateway playfully dubbed ‘Jurassic Park’ by qualia staff and arrived at The Long Pavilion, the stunning centrepiece of the resort where we were greeted with glasses of Veuve Cliquot and an almost dizzying water view that stretches from the infinity plunge pool at the edge of the pavilion and over the Coral Sea creating the illusion of a single body of water stretching to the islands beyond.

The Long Pavilion is resplendent with polished wooden floors, low slung furniture and is also home to a discreet restaurant and bar where we would have our breakfast each morning.

View from The Long Pavilion, qualia

The Long Pavilion, qualia

Infinity pool, qualia

The Resort

After a very relaxed check in process, we collected our golf buggy (The best way to get around the island) and drove the short distance to our pavilion. We were staying in a Leeward Pavilion which has views over the bush and of the Coral Sea.

Our pavilion had all of the conveniences you would expect from a resort of this calibre. A separate lounge area with minibar, large flatscreen TV with 120 complementary latest release films on demand and the real kicker for me, a remote controlled sound system with iPod input and ceiling mounted speakers so I could plug in my own music and have it stream throughout the pavilion.

Mercifully for our neighbours, each of pavilions is positioned for complete privacy so the sounds of my rather eclectic music collection wouldn’t disturb them and I could dance like an idiot on the sun deck without being seen. The bathroom was also impeccably laid out, with a separate standalone bathtub and rain shower, twin sinks and Aesop toiletries.

Champagne on arrival, qualia

The living room, Leeward Pavilion

Leeward Pavilion

Bathroom, Leeward Pavilion

Aesop Toiletries


Our first afternoon was spent exploring the island by buggy. The marina on Hamilton Island plays host to a number of stores and cafes. Handy, as I managed to leave my board shorts back in Sydney.

Dinner that night was at coca chu, the newly launched South East Asian restaurant headed up by Executive Chef Adam Woodfield (ex Jimmy Liks, Sydney and Betel Restaurant, New York.) The menu presented a modern and seasonal take on South East Asian hawker food with the delicate balance between sweet, savoury, salt and sour that is the hallmark of Thai cuisine. Highlights included delicate morsels of lobster served on betel leaves and a rather menacing looking but sweet fleshed whole cooked fresh fish.

After dinner, it was straight back to the pavilion to prepare for the main event the next day, the Vogue Living Champagne Dinner at qualia, which I’ll cover in the second of my two part series on Hamilton Island.

Coca chu

Lobster Betel Leaves

Jeremy Bowell Travelled to Hamilton Island, dined and stayed at qualia as a guest of Hamilton Island.

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Author:Jeremy Bowell

Jeremy Bowell is the founder and editor of Taste Explorer. He also writes for,, and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section. He is an avid connoisseur of all things food and drink related.