If you are staying in Airlie Beach and want to make a day trip to Hamilton Island, read this review of Cruise Whitsundays Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island for all the information and tips to ensure a fun day.

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Cruise Whitsundays are the only company at present that operates a ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island. We used their service when we stayed in Airlie Beach as part of our Whitsundays to Cairns road trip.

cruise whitsundays airlie beach to hamilton island

What is the cheapest way to get from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island?

The cheapest way to get from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island is by ferry, run by Cruise Whitsundays.

Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Ferry Timetable

Download a copy of the latest Timetable for the times of the ferries.

How much is the ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island?

The return cost of the ferry to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach is A$119.80 per adult and A$99.80 per child as of November 2020. Alternatively, consider a tour like the ones below, which include some activities and lunch.

However, if you’re looking at visiting Daydream Island too, the Whitsunday Islands Hopper Pass is ideal.

Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) to Hamilton Island

Cruise Whitsundays offer a service from Proserpine Airport to Hamilton Island. The package includes a coach from this Airlie Beach airport to the Port of Airlie Marina.

This service’s cost is A$82 an adult and A$65 a child, including the ferry to Hamilton Island. You can book online here.

How long is the ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island?

The Cruise Whitsundays ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island takes one hour and five minutes.

girl looking out to see on a ferry with an island in the background

Where does the Cruise Whitsundays ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island leave from?

The Cruise Whitsundays ferry to Hamilton Island departs from the Maritime Terminal at 24 The Cove Road, Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach. The terminal has a café with outdoor and indoor seating areas, a gift shop, and a check-in area.

Cruise Whitsundays Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Day Trip Review

We started our day with a coffee from the Coffee Club, just down the road from the Maritime Terminal at Port Airlie, as we booked the first transfer of the day.

Check-in was a breeze; you need to arrive 30 to 40 minutes before your departure time. The check-in is similar to an airport; there are even baggage conveyor belts.

The large boat was modern and air-conditioned, with indoor and outdoor seating. We chose the upstairs outdoor area, which gave us excellent views on our way to the islands. Inside are bars serving tea, coffee, drinks, and snacks.

Before departure, the friendly crew gave a safety talk, and then we were on our way. It was a warm but cloudy day as we departed Airlie Beach, seeing it for the first time from the water. As we left the town’s buildings behind, we relaxed back in our seats for the hour’s journey to Hamilton Island.

During our crossing, we saw plenty of boats, including the beautiful catamaran SV On The Edge. If you’re looking to do a sunset Whitsunday cruise, this one looks fantastic.

red and white catamaran sailing with people onboard looking out to the ocean

As we drew closer to Hamilton Island, the marina came into sight. There were some pretty incredible million-dollar yachts moored, one of which I could imagine owning 🙂 Get ready with your camera as the water is a stunning turquoise colour, which makes a fantastic photo with the luxury yachts and quaint marina.

Before we disembarked, information for guests and day visitors were provided by the staff. It was then time to explore this beautiful Whitsunday island.

turquoise water in a marina with million dollar yachts and shops

As we didn’t have time for breakfast before leaving, we grabbed something to eat at Bob’s bakery on the opposite side of the marina. This part of the island is where the shops, the Marina Tavern, cafes, and other eateries are located. It felt very relaxing sitting having breakfast overlooking the stunning marina and watching the fish swim by (the water was so clear).

It was a short walk to the Hamilton Island Resort, where access is given as part of the day trip. We headed straight for the pool and managed to get sun loungers for the four of us. It was already getting busy with island guests and day-trippers, so I’m glad that we took the first ferry service from Airlie Beach. If you’re on a later one, there may be a chance that sun loungers will not be available.

sun loungers by the pool

An enjoyable morning was spent lazing around the pool, reading my book while Dave and the girls had fun in the pool. The swim-up bar looked inviting, but we decided that it was time to check out some more of the island, so the cocktails would have to wait.

swim up bar in pool

Hamilton Island resort is right on Catseye Beach, which is a hive of activity. The Beach Hut has catamarans, paddleboards, windsurfers, kayaks, and snorkelling equipment available for hire. Hamilton Island Beach Sports also have guided snorkelling tours to explore the local reef. If that sounds too energetic, there’s plenty of room on the sandy beach to throw down a towel and relax.

Stingers (Irukandji) can be present in the ocean at any time of the year, although they are most common in the summer months. I wouldn’t recommend swimming at secluded beaches as the stinger pain is severe and can cause difficulty breathing. Pay attention to the signs on the beach and hire a stinger suit if jelly fish are present.

sandy beach with lots of watersports and beach activities

Hamilton Island Wildlife is also located on this side of the island. Here you can see snakes, lizards, koalas, and kangaroos. The price is A$28 per Adult and A$16.50 per child, or two adults and two children for $86 (children aged 3-14 years). Having seen plenty of these animals previously, we decided to give this a miss and explore more of the island.

For adventure seekers, Hamilton Island Watersports have various activities including parasailing, Predator fishing charters, jetboating, water-skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and speed boat adventures. They can be found at the marina.

Cruise Whitsundays Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Review

Hamilton Island is a car-free island, but the complimentary Green Island Shuttle Bus provides a hop-on/hop-off service. It operates continuously between the Resort Centre and Marina Village, every 10 minutes. Alternatively, golf buggies can be hired for a self-drive around the island. In November 2020, prices started at $59 for two hours.

A Walk Map shows the walking trails available on Hamilton Island. Please bear in mind the heat and always take plenty of water with you, wear a hat, apply insect repellent and sunscreen. Be aware that there are no toilets on these trails.

One Tree Hill has spectacular views over the surrounding islands and ocean. We weren’t there for sunset, but I think it would be the best place to be, especially as there’s a bar serving cocktails!

Our day on Hamilton Island finished with some food and drinks on the outside deck at Marina Tavern. The laid back atmosphere was a perfect end to our relaxing day trip to Hamilton Island.

a tropical pier and marina with turquoise water and beautiful buildings and palm trees

Hamilton Island map

Download a copy of the Hamilton Island map before you go.

Flights

plane flying over a beach

I use different sites to try and get the best possible price for flights.

First I visit matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site.

Next I compare the cost of flights with Trip.com and try different routes.

Accommodation

Cruise Whitsundays Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Review

I mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties.

Car Hire

black car

To compare rental car company prices, I use Rentalcars.com. They are world’s biggest car rental site, comparing all main brands including Europcar, Budget, Ace, Hertz, Avis, and Alamo.

Travel Insurance

Cruise Whitsundays Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Review

Don’t travel anywhere without travel insurance, it’s not worth the risk.

Travel insurance: simple & flexible

You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

Travel Information & Guides

This Australia Travel Guide, which includes all essential information and tips, will help with the planning of your holiday to this beautiful country.

For more things to do in Queensland, check out this Queensland Travel Guide.


FAQ

When is the best time to visit the Whitsundays?

Peak season in the Whitsundays is September and October. The rainy season is in the summer months, from January to March, when humidity is high. Winter months are dry with warm temperatures of around 22/23 degrees.

When are marine stingers present in the Whitsundays?

Marine stingers are present in the ocean year-round in the Whitsundays, but there’s a higher risk from October to May. During this time, it is advisable to wear stinger suits.

Can you swim on Hamilton Island?

Yes, you can swim on Hamilton Island, either at Catseye Beach or one of the resort’s swimming pools. Be aware of stingers in the ocean, though.

Where is Hamilton Island?

Hamilton Island is in the Whitsundays, off the coast of Airlie Beach in Queensland, Australia.

Are there mosquitos on Hamilton Island?

Yes there are mosquitos on Hamilton Island, especially inland, so take insect repellent with you.

Should I stay on Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach?

If you want the island lifestyle, then stay on Hamilton Island. However, there’s more to do in Airlie Beach, a wider choice of restaurants, cheaper food, and more affordable accommodation choices.

If you found our article helpful, please consider booking through one of our links. It won’t cost you anything but will help towards the cost of running this site. Thank you 🙂

4 photos of an island with title the cheapest way to get from airlie beach to hamilton island australia

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14 Comments

  1. John Quinn says:

    A really nice place to hang out and take in that scenery. But I’d be avoiding that water like the plague. Stingers- they don’t sound like a lot of fun.

    1. It’s well worth the trip out to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach. The ferry ride takes you past some beautiful scenery too.

  2. Adding Hamilton Island to my list! That turquoise water and beaches are stunning! Great guide on how to get there.

    1. I really recommend this part of Australia, the Whitsunday Islands are stunning.

  3. I’ve actually made this trip! We spent a few days on Hamilton Island and then took the ferry to Airlie Beach to rendezvous with the yacht we had booked. I recall Hamilton Island as being fairly laid back and Airlie Beach being quite buzzy. We had 3 days sailing in the Whitsundays and it was one of the best, most memorable trips ever.

    1. It must have been an amazing experience to sail around the Whitsunday Islands.

  4. I’ve never heard of Hamilton island but What a great day trip! So glad you guys got a nice balance of lounging around time and time for other things!

    1. I can’t sit still for too long! I used to just laze on a beach all day when I was younger, not any more 🙂

  5. This area sounds delightful and definitely a place with the Coconut Lands vibe 🙂 Love the idea of a car-free island.

  6. Wendy, this is fantastic! You have painted a fantastic picture of exploring the Whitsundays! Wish we had seen this last year when planning my son’s Australia trip. He did enjoy the Hamilton Wildlife – especially the Roo’s, Koalas & snakes! Your photos are so beautiful- can’t wait to come back & explore everything you show!

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