Sunday, February 4, 2018

Welcome to Fantasy Island

Trip date: February 2017

There are certain things that you'll get to do only once in your life. If you're lucky they will be incredibly special things, shared with wonderful people, and they'll be over the top fun. Let me introduce you to the One & Only Resort Hayman Island.

Hayman Island is the farthest north of the Whitsundays in the Great Barrier Reef. The island is tiny with a small marina, a resort, and a few very high end vacation homes for sale. It is only accessible by helicopter or the resort's private yacht. Oh yea!

Rachel and I left The Gold Coast and met Gail and Denise at the Brisbane airport where we boarded a tiny prop plane for Hamilton Island. Those little guys make me so nervous so I was ready with my wine order when the flight attendant came by. She informed me that Quantas doesn't serve wine on flights before 4pm (and it was noon). Grrr... luckily the amazing scenery kept my mind occupied.
Those dark patches are reefs under the water!

We landed on Hamilton Island, checked in at the One & Only desk, and were led to the yacht that would take us to the resort. There were just us four girls on board and a guy from Chicago who was being flown out to DJ and take photos at a company party.  The rosé champagne started flowing and we all had a fantastic time cruising through the Whitsundays on the 1-hour trip to our island!
We disembarked, jumped in the waiting golf carts with our champagne still in hand, and were taken to our rooms at the resort. A quick change into swimsuits and we met Claudette and Willie who had arrived earlier.
That night after the pool, drinks, and dinner the resort lit a bonfire on the beach where we sat around with more wine.  I hadn't seen some of these girls in years and I was looking forward to catching up in this paradise over the next four days.

The next morning Rachel, Claudette, and I hiked up to Whitsunday View Point. Although we got up there around 9am the sun was already incredibly hot. But the views were worth the near heat exhaustion!
We continued with the incredible views as we all settled into beach cabanas for the day and practically had the resort to ourselves.

We spent the entire day lounging; going between the ocean and the pool for swims. It was heavenly.

Late in the afternoon, we got cleaned up and the golf carts were waiting to whisk us back down to the marina for a sunset champagne sail. The six of us girls had a blast drinking bubbles and chatting/giggling away. The other two couples, who were there for a romantic sail, didn't quite feel the same!
It was a gorgeous sunset!
Back on our island we may or may not have crashed the corporate party that our DJ friend was working...

Rachel, Claudette and I were off again the next morning on an Outer Great Barrier Reef snorkel trip! I was CRAZY excited for this bucket list adventure! There were just 12 people on the boat, 5 of us snorkeling, the others diving. The day couldn't have been more beautiful as we cruised an hour out to the reefs.
We stopped at our first reef, donned protective suits in case of jellyfish, and dove into the most gloriously clear blue water I think I have ever seen. The color of the coral was unbelievable!!! We hit two reefs with lunch in between and saw tons of coral, fish, turtles, and a reef shark! Claudette smartly grabbed the throwaway underwater camera from her room's minibar and got some great shots!

During lunch one of the crew pointed out to me how the coral was actually in towers, the water so clear you could see them reaching up for the sky, and when you looked they extended quite a ways in a semi-circle. They look like a giant's footsteps!
We had so much fun, I really couldn't have asked for a better day! Oh except our boat broke down on the way back. Luckily we were just outside of the marina so they had a small boat out to us right away. Thank god as there was no champagne onboard!

That night, after a late afternoon spent having spritzes by the pool, we brought some bottles of champagne down to the beach and enjoyed the sunset. Then we had a fabulous dinner at the restaurant that overlooks the pool and the beach. A few of the girls went to crash the corporate dance party while Denise, Gail, and I hung out on the beach star gazing at the incredible southern hemisphere sky.

Every morning the resort had an amazing buffet breakfast set up with anything you could want; freshly made donuts, omelets, waffles, dumplings, yogurts, fruits, etc. We all chose to sit outside each morning, taking in the beautiful view, but we did have to share with the locals...
It was our last full day in paradise! We started our day after breakfast with a beach bungalow as we had on our first day. Then Rachel, Gail, Claudette and I wandered over to the 2nd pool, a saltwater pool with a small island restaurant in the middle that we could swim around. I ordered a delicious coconut rum drink and we lounged away the afternoon on the pool beds.
That night we met in Willie, Denise, and Claudette's room for some champagne, including a special bottle Denise had brought that was from her wedding!
As it was Sunday night, all the restaurants were closed (which was really dumb seeing that they are the only ones on the island!), so after our champagne we orderd room service and had it delivered to the beach. These girls... they aren't just pretty and fun, they are smart!

And all too soon it was check out day. Denise and I grabbed stand up paddleboards after breakfast and were the only ones out in the bay. In the Great Barrier Reef. Ridiculous! We saw a stingray, a turtle, and lots of fish while standing looking down! 

It was so shallow that when we were very far out we jumped off our boards and the water was only just past our waists. It was a very awesome last morning in the ocean.

Willie had the first yacht and flight out so we said our goodbyes and the rest of us hit the pool beds. We got word that our flight out was delayed so we ordered up some rosé and took advantage of the extra hour!

Rachel and Claudette were on the next yacht so more goodbyes were said.
As Gail, Denise, and I got cleaned up the island was hit with a violent rain storm, coming seemingly out of the blue! Luckily it cleared up by the time we were taken to our yacht.

We had another 1-hour cruise, complete with rosé champagne, back to Hamilton Island.
Sadly the island was hit by Cyclone Debbie just a month after our visit and The One & Only had to close. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced it with these fabulous women and looking back at my travel notes and photos have brought back so many sweet memories. Thank you ladies!
Maybe it's time to check out one of the other One & Only Resorts...

All Hayman Island/Great Barrier Reef photos here.


Other posts from this trip: 
The Longest Way to Oz
An American Down Under
Meet Up in Melbourne
Yarra Valley Wine Tasting
48-Hours Gold Coast
Woolloomooloo



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