We spent 5 nights on Hamilton Isalnd from 11 - 16 December 2010.
The island is so green and lush, full of beautiful trees and plants. We stayed in Lagoon Lodge private apartments on the beach side of the island - Catseye Beach. These are individually owned apartments so you never know what the apartment will be like and no two are the same. Ours were rated as Luxury Apartments on hamiltonisland.biz - but they were quite old and the kitchens and bathrooms needed some serious attention, this is something you can't tell from the photos on the website. The views from our large balcony were fantastic however, and well worth trudging up two flights of stairs each time we came back. Several problems in each unit with appliances not working: washing machine and DVD player in one apartment and dishwasher and a missing TV remote in another. We were a party of 8 and had two apartments, each came with a 4 seat golf buggy which are essential for getting around. We could walk to the main pool and beach form our apartment, but if we wanted to go to the marina where the shops and many restaurants are, we needed the buggy. I suppose you could walk there but there's a huge hill to get over, and in 28 degrees celsius with 70% humidity that's not for me thanks.
We loved the swim-up bar in the main pool which has two happy hours each day: 1.30 - 2.30 and 3.30 to 4.30. There are only 4 cocktails that you can get at a slightly cheaper price during happy hour, plus beer and basic spirits are a couple of dollars cheaper. This pool probably needs to be cleaned more often, I found lots of things floating in it which was a bit off-putting.
Even though it was stinger season, most people were swimming in the ocean without stinger suits. When we hired a paddle ski and kayak we weren't advised to wear stinger suits, so we wondered if we would be safe or not. There are signs up around the island warning of the irikandji jellyfish dangers during the summer months, but it didn't seem as if the beach sports staff were too concerned about warning guests. The water in the ocean was so warm at this time of year, there was absolutely no chill factor at all, just beautiful.
We dined at two eateries while there: Sails Restaurant at the Reef Resort and the Marina Tavern. I felt both were affordable and not as expensive as I had been led to believe from other reviews I had read. There were a number of mains for under $30, which is not too bad. I have written reviews on the restuarants separately. We thought that buying alcohol on the island would be prohibitively expensive, but we found at the bottle shop that there were several brands of white wine for under $20 per bottle. Buying alcohol from the bars though can be expensive, but this was expected.
There are a number of clothing shops. The resort boutique at the Reef Resort is ridiculously expensive and a bit of a joke, beautiful clothes but out of most people's reach - a cotton sun dress was $299!
There are a few clothing shops down at the marina, one of them was a surf shop called "Offshore" and their prices were about the same as you would pay at a surf shop anywhere. A great place for souvenirs is Trader Pete's - they have everything you could think of, and more! The general store is well stocked and not as expensive as I had been led to believe from reading previous reviews. We had ordered online from Coles to be delivered, which is probably a slightly cheaper way to go. However they only deliver Mon - Fri, and as we arrived on Saturday we did need to buy a few things to get us through the first two days before our Coles delivery on the Monday.
We had fantastic weather and only 1 day of rain, but we swam in the pool anyway as it was still hot. Our buggy had weather flaps which were a great bonus for driving in the rain - we saw many people getting wet in their buggys without the plastic weather flaps.
The watersports were great and the staff there are very helpful and friendly. We did the Jet Ryder jet boat ride, Parasailing and Tube ride and everyone had a ball.
We will try to go back if we can get a good deal on flights. This time we would book a more modern apartment, but all of these are on the Marina side of the island, which means you can't walk to the beach.
The Go Karts are bit of a rip-off so we didn't end up going on those, the kids thought the track was too small and the price was too high - $47 for 10 mins. As we are from Caloundra we are only a few minutes drive from the Big Kart Track which is much better value for money.
Overall Hamilton Island is a fantastic holiday destination for all types of people. One thing they could do with is a Teen Lounge, for the 13 - 17 year olds to hang out on couches and beacn bags watching DVD's or playing video games and meeting other kids their own age.