Steve and I jetted off to Hamilton Island on Saturday. Hamilton is the most developed island out of the 74 that form the Whitsundays group. It's a cute little place with a small airport, beach and various pools. There are also some restaurants and a few shops. The marina area is filled with some beautiful boats.
The weather was a little hit and miss; it is the middle of Winter after all. It rained all day on the Sunday was overcast for a while and then we had a couple of days of brilliant sunshine before the rain returned.
We were lucky though that in spite of a 4 hr delay to our flight home (the plane couldn't land at Hamilton Island airport as it was too windy), we did at least get home. Had we left one day later we wouldn't have made it to Melbourne as the airport closed due to the ash cloud.
During our time on the island, we did a couple of boat trips, sunbathed by one of the pools and droev around the island. We only ate out twice which is rare for us but the price of the restaurants versus what you get for that money isn't really on parr so we decided to buy groceries from the store and cook ourselves. Naturally we stocked up on wine and we brought some gin and vodka with us! We were only there for 4 days anyway and knew we would be waited on at our next stop.
Chalkies Beach was quiet and picturesque. You can see it in the pictutre with Steve's cheesy feet. We also sailed to Whitehaven Beach which was voted third best beach in the World by National Geographic. The sand there is 99% silica and just so soft and white. It was beautiful even on an overcast day and the water was still warm enough to swim in. Steve played beach cricket whilst I lay on the soft sand. I guess to have the opportunity to play beach cricket on one of Australia's finest beaches is an experience to treasure!
The rest of the evening was spent back at the apartment re packing our bags as we could only take a soft bag each to our next destination. Naturally Steve finished the rest of the gin.
As the chopper landed, we could see a small group of people in striped t shirts waving at us and welcoming us.
Our bags were whisked away and we sat on a comfortable sofa with a glass of bubbly whilst Rosie and Steve (the managers) explained to us how the resort worked and what we should expect - lots of relaxation and some wildlife! We were also told that for the next 24 hours we would be the sole guests on the island! Celebrity life huh? Flying in on a helicopter to our own private island!
There's a communal lodge area where dinner usually takes place and there are always freshly baked goodies and a self service honesty bar. Drinks after 6:30pm are included in the rate. Staying at Paradise Bay is like spending time with friends with a make yourself at home mentality which I am a fan of and took to it very easily!
Our skipper John and deckhand Sara were great. Sara had this great knack of knowing just when you could do with a towel or a spray jacket or just some help. I could get used to having a Sara around! We did some snorkelling around Blue Pearl Cove and this time Steve had a prescription mask and could actually see the coral. The snorkelling at Chalkies was good but this time it was even better.
Lunch was at the aptly named Luncheon Bay which was a beach area that we had to ourselves. Sara and John dropped us off and took the boat round the corner so we could enjoy the beach. Having a yummy picnic on a secluded beach on a beautiful day was certainly a special experience.
Our second boat trip on day 2 of our stay was also by speedboat. This time our skipper was Matt and we were joined by a honeymooning couple from Boston. Matt informed us that the weather was going to change overnight so we should take advantage and get to Whitehaven. Lucky us, returning to Whitehaven for the second time. This time the sky was blue and the sun was out and we enjoyed a walk along the beach and a short lie down on the soft sand.
Lunch took place on Honeymoon Beach (appropriate for our companions) and was once again deserted except for the four of us which was lovely. There was some snorkelling in the afternoon before we headed back to Paradise Bay.
And indeed the weather did change overnight and the rain came in which meant that we didn't really want to go out on a boat on our last day. Instead Steve and I spent the day reading and curled up on one of the big sofas in the lodge area.
There's also a family of curlews, some wild turkeys and two big goannas which we didn't see for which I am quite thankful.
Our first night we dined outside with Rosie and Steve. Todd and Sophie joined us for our main courses. Dinner starts with cocktails and delicious canapés served in the communal lodge. Sophie and Bronwen are good cocktail makers. During our time there we had tropical daquiris, strawberry margaritas, Midori splices and blood marys!
Canapés are yum too. A scallop and chorizo with caramelised onion sticks in my mind as well as a very tasty bruschetta and a spoonful of parmesan risotto.
Our second night dinner was a private balcony dinner and Todd and Sophie served us. This made for a different experience but also good fun. Steve had his iPad playing music for us and we could hear the waves. This meal was Steve's favourite. We had a beautiful barramundi and chilli king prawn appetiser followed by roast pork belly with some very crackly crackling. Dessert was a cheesecake with Cointreau strawberries and some dollops of milk chocolate mousse. Compliments to Todd! The rest of the evening was spent in the communal lodge where we enjoyed chatting to our host couple and learning more about them.
Our third dinner was cooked by Luke and hosted by Bronwen. Todd and Sophie headed home and we met Luke and Bronwen - two Brits now in Australia. We had a communal dinner in the lodge with the Boston honeymooners and another British couple from Taunton. We started off with a delicious duck salad with an Asian coleslaw and followed it with beautiful poached salmon with a delicate tomato mousse. Dessert was an Italian meringue with Winter fruits.
Our time at Paradise Bay was wonderful and we loved it very much. We'd love to return at some point and enjoy more of the genuinely warm hospitality.