More a vacation village than a single resort, Hamilton has the widest range of activities, accommodations styles, and restaurants of any Great Barrier Reef island resort and is a great place for families.

The accommodations choices are extra-large rooms and suites in the high-rise hotel; high-rise one-bedroom apartments; Polynesian-style bungalows in tropical gardens (ask for one away from the road for real privacy); and glamorous rooms in the two-story, adults-only Beach Club (with a personal “host” to cater to every whim, and private restaurant, lounge, and pool for exclusive use of Beach Club guests); as well as one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments and villas, including villas at the waterfront Yacht Club. The best sea views are from the second-floor Beach Club rooms, from floors 5 to 18 of the Reef View Hotel, and from most apartments and villas. If your budget is huge, the poshest part of the resort is the ultraluxe qualia, an exclusive, adults-only retreat on the northern part of the island. It has 60 one-bedroom pavilions, each with a private swimming pool and a guest pavilion. There’s a spa and two restaurants, and none of these facilities are available to other Hamilton Island guests.

A marina village with cafes, restaurants, shops, and a yacht club is set apart from the accommodations, most of which are set around a large free-form pool and swim-up bar and the curve of Catseye Beach. Hamilton offers a huge range of watersports, fishing trips, cruises, speedboat rides, go-karts, a “wire flyer” flying-fox hang glider, a shooting range, minigolf, an aquatic driving range, beach barbecue safaris, hiking trails, a wildlife sanctuary (you may have seen Oprah here, cuddling a koala), and an extensive daily activities program.

There are no cars on the island, and because a steep hill splits the resort, the best way to get around is on the free bus service, which operates on three loops around the island from 7am to 11pm, or by rented golf buggy (A$45/1 hr.; A$85/24 hr). The biggest drawback is that just about every activity costs extra, so you are constantly adding to your bill. To get away from the main resort area, hit the beach or the hiking trails—most of the 750-hectare (1,853-acre) island is virgin bushland.