How to do Hamilton Island on a budget

If you think a tropical holiday might be out of your budget, think again. With a bit of insider knowledge, you can have a holiday on Hamilton Island and still live it up.

Person on a deck chair on the white sand at Hamilton Island’s Cats Eye Beach, with palm trees in the foreground and boats on the water in the background.
  • Jetstar
  • August 2021

The beauty of doing Hamilton Island on a budget? Nature is free. The jaw-dropping scenery, the island views – all free. So you’re already ahead of the game. You’re already soaking up the tropical island vibes. If you download the island’s app, you can keep track of all the free events that are happening too. Day-to-day expenses? Easy. Here are some budget-friendly tips to make your tropical getaway a bargain.

Do some smart planning

Hamilton Island gets super busy during school holidays, the festive season, and when there are major events (and there are a lot) on. Plan your trip outside of these times to avoid higher rates. (Don’t worry, the weather will still be gorgeous.) Compare accommodation offerings – Holiday Homes and Reef View are among the more affordable options on the island. Both come with budget perks like free kids’ dining at select restaurants. Holiday Homes have self-catering kitchens if you want to save on dining out, while the Reef View has some nifty hotel inclusions.

View from Reef View Hotel looking out over swimming pool, buildings, palm trees, beach, water and islands. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Five-star views from the Reef View. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Take a hike and picnic at sunset

You’ll hardly think you’re travelling on a budget when you go hiking around Hamilton Island, taking in the five-star views. There are a range of walking trails to suit your fitness and your schedule. The Hamilton Island Icons Trail stops at four iconic landmarks – a 3m tall chair, a giant swing, a hammock and a stunning viewing platform. Pack a picnic from the IGA or the bakery and time your last stop to coincide with the sunset – or sunrise. Pretty romantic.

Sunrise view over water and islands from Passage Peak hiking trail. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Hamilton Island is full of sigh-worthy panoramas. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Enjoy free entertainment

Speaking of sunsets and picnics, head down to the lawns overlooking the marina for both at Marina Daze. Bring your rug, some drinks, and enjoy live music as the sun goes down. There are outdoor movie nights at the same spot. (Movies are generally suitable for all the family.) Download the Hamilton Island app to see who’s playing or what’s screening. Free entertainment doesn’t get much better than this.

The lights of the Hamilton Island Marina at sunset with a hill in the background.
Enjoy free sunset entertainment at the marina.

Dine out without the price tag

If your budget doesn’t stretch to nightly banquets at 5-star resorts, it really doesn’t matter on Hamilton Island. There are all kinds of luscious eats to be had. There’s the IGA supermarket for picking up self-catering groceries for outdoor picnics. And an excellent bakery for takeaway pies and pastries for a simple, tasty breakfast or lunch. There’s also fish and chips, pizza and gelato, as well as the affordable Marina Tavern with both indoor and outdoor dining. And don’t forget kids eat free at select restaurants.

Close-up of a pizza and beer, with marina in the background, at Pizzeria and Gelato Bar, Hamilton Island. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
A slice of heaven doesn’t have to be beyond reach. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Lap up the island pools

Even though you’re surrounded by soft sand and beautiful waters, Hamilton Island also has a bounty of pools to lounge by. Float around in the Bougainvillea Pool, just behind Catseye Beach, surrounded by beautiful, tropical landscaping. It’s open from sunrise to sunset. Just nearby, you’ll also find the Main Pool, a large, freeform shaped pool, surrounded by palm trees and deck chairs. Crucially, this one has a swim-up bar. Just so you know.

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