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Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

Portland, OR
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Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

Our family is heading to Australia in December (3 kids - 9,12,14). We had planned 5 days in Sydney, 5 days in Hamilton Island, and 7 days on the Sunshine Coast. But I am worried that the trip to Hamilton is a mistake.

We were envisioning a wonderful snorkeling destination, but after reading about the weather and stingers, I'm not sure it's worth the expense and time. I know Hamilton is wonderful other times of year , but is it a prime destination in December? I'm wondering if we should instead just take a snorkeling excursion from Bundaberg or surrounds. Any suggestions? We don't want to set ourselves up for 5 hot humid (possibly rainy) days where we can't dive in to the sea without a stinger suit. My friends in Florida say don't visit in summer, it is the same for Hamilton Island?

We want to have a variety of experiences in Australia and hoped to see part of the GBR, but balancing the needs of kids (safety, seasickness, ease of excursion, comfort ) and expense has left me scratching my head. Heron Island sounded good but it is very expensive - and stingers might be an issue there too. One or two days of snorkeling (even a snorkeling overnight excursion) sounds good, but 5 days at a place where we can't dive into the sea sounds questionable.

Bottom line is that ii costs US$1000 to get us to Hamilton & back, so I want to make sure it's worth it. Should I be spending that money on a great excursion instead? Good news is that my itinerary is open. We have airpasses - which are flexible, and I've not committed to hotels. SO PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR ADVICE ON THE BEST 12 DAYS IN QUEENSLAND. THANKS!!!!!

Sydney
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1. Re: Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

Hi Pdx5

Firstly, if you are travelling to Hamilton Island in December, it would be strongly recommended that you try and book your accommodation asap (if you end up going there). Because December is a busy period with school holidays, Christmas and New Years.

I have been to Hamilton Island a few times and always in the wet and stringer season. Basically most of the mid to North of QLD has wet season, so regardless of where you go, you may get the rain. However, in saying that my first visit there we had no rain in the 5 days. This year it rained once through the day - but the staff make alternative arrangements for the activities. December is the beginning of the wet season.

With regards to snorkelling......you can still snorkel off Catseye Beach. Most people don't wear the stinger suits off the beach. If you were to do a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, then they would get you to wear the stinger suits. To be honest, I am not sure why people panic about wearing them. They are pretty comfortable and of course, are there to protect you. We wore them this year when we did a snorkel trip.

Besides snorkelling, there are also a few swimming pools that you can use. And, depending on where you are staying, some of the other resort complexes on the island also have their own pools (so, say maybe a group of 8 apartments share one pool).

You also have quite a lot of options for accommodation on Hamilton Island. With a family of 5, you may want to look at an apartment. You can try looking at:

www.hamiltonisland.com.au (general HI website) or

www.hamiltonisland.biz or www.stays.com.au

If you get a private apartment or villa, you will also get a golf buggy included (seats max 4 though). It is great to have this as you can get around the island easily - even though there is a shuttle bus that operates.

Once you are on HI you can also go and discover another one of the Whitsunday Islands. Have a look at www.fantasea.com.au as they operate the ferries between the islands and also the day trips to the Great Barrier Reef.

Another thing that is a must for visitors to the Whitsundays is to visit Whitehaven Beach. Once again, have a look at the Hamilton Island website for activities.

You also mentioned that you are going to spend 7 days on the Sunshine Coast. Are you planning just to sit back and relax for the week there? Because you could hire a car and go to Australia Zoo (which was built by Steve Irwin) and also the Ettamogah Pub (true "Aussie" experience. But also you could drive south past Brisbane and go to the Gold Coast - also known as Surfers Paradise. If your kids are interested in theme parks there is Movieworld, Seaworld, Wet N Wild and Dreamworld. Just a thought!

Good luck with everything and let me know if you have any more questions!

I am not 100% sure what snorkellin options are available from Bundaberg or the area.

Portland, OR
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2. Re: Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

Barina80,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply.

We have decided to visit Hamilton for just 3 nights.

Hopefully it won't be too hot, or sticky, or stormy!

Found accommodations - luckily there still seem to be

many good choices. But you are right, it is a busy time of

year, and everywhere I've wanted to book between Christmas and New Years has been busy & expensive!

From what I've read, and from what someone at the hotel told

me, you really shouldn't chance swimming off the beach without a

stinger suit in December. The stinger suits don't sound bad, it's just

that for casual swimming - like a quick dip - or playing frisbee in the

sea - I can't see us putting one on. From the sounds of it.... many

people don't . But after reading about how severe the reactions to the stings can be, I definitely don't want to chance it.

Anyhow, I think we'll stick to the pools, and take

the Fantasea cruise. Hopefully rent a buggy and explore and

have some fun.

We are definitely planning on doing many day trips from the Noosa area. The Australia Zoo is high on our list. Don't know if we will make it to Surfer's Paradise - as it is a little far - but would love to hear any other suggestions you have.

Again, thank you so much for your reply and links!

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

You will always be advised to wear a stinger suit, if only to safe guard themselves

I also have never seen anyone wearing a stinger suit out the front of Catseye Beach and TBH, whilst I wear them quite happily on the snorkelling trips, would probably be self conscious wearing one on the beach ... they are quite comfortable to wear but are terribly unflattering for those of us on the larger side

If you go on a day trip to the Reef or Whitehaven .. suits will be provided and most people wear them, so you dont need to feel silly and they do protect from sunburn

On the island there are many pools .. your kids will love the bouganvillea pool .. also the Reef Hotel has its own pool plus the swim up bar pool with an island in the middle, your children can spend ages trying to circumnavigate the large pool

There is also a very deep pool next to the Sails restaurant which is good for learning to snorkel .. they have snorkel and scuba lessons in this pool

The fauna park has a small number of Australian Animals and you can have breakfast with the koalas and have your photo taken with them

Also they might enjoy a game of mini golf with you.. if you check out the official www.hamiltonisland.com.au site and check out the link to activities, you can see a full week's plan and you can get an idea of what the children could join in .. they have children's activites all year round not just the school holidays

3 days will be over very quickly so have an idea of what you wish to do .. you wont have a choice on off island activities as not all of these run every day and also the weather conditions can have some influence .. so check out the tour desk in the main resort on the beach side, the afternoon you arrive .. they can tell you which tours are available for the 2 full days you will have

I wouldn't be too worried about being humid and uncomfortable.. being surrounded by water it is possible to get sea breezes .. just beaware during the middle of the day as it will get hot in the sun .. but the bouganvillea pool has lots of palm trees around it which gives quite a bit of shade and is very welcoming

there are free shuttle buses which constantly circle the island so feel free to get on and off whereever you wish .. also there are over 10 restaurants so you wont have any problems at meal times

I am sure your kids will love it

Abbey

Portland, OR
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4. Re: Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

Abbey,

Thanks for the taking the time to reply. We have a 1/2 day, full day, full day, 1/2 day. One of our full days, I thought we would do the Fantasea cruise. I heard this is really good for kids. (?) A sailing outing sounds fun too, do you have any recommendations for this? The breakfast with the koalas, has gotten good reviews, and I think my kids would love it. Any excursions or events you think shouldn't be missed? I checked out the activities link - and there really is a lot to do. Thanks for that! It sounds like tons of fun. I have several friends here in the States that have visited Hamilton Island and loved it, but none of them has been there in December. I was just a bit hesitant about the weather & stingers getting in the way of fun.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

If you take the full day trip to the Reef which leaves approx 8.15 and returns approxm 4.45 that is one day accounted

A half day trip to Whitehaven would also be fun for the kids .. are you there before Christmas day? If so you shouldn't have any problems getting on any of the trips going but some are number dependent so I would wait until you arrive on the island and then check with the tour desk and also at H20 down by the harbour .. the choice will depend on whether you wish to snorkel more or spend time on Whitehaven Beach etc sail or fast boat, there are several options

If money permits, the jet boat ride is fabulous .. I can guantee your kids will love this .. when I went on the boat about 18 months ago we did a complete circle of the island complete with donuts (turning the boat around on a tight circle) and loud music... I loved the music, really got you pumping with the speed of the boat

But these activites certainly add up times 5 .. I am sure your kids will be more than happy to try out all the pools and some of the free activities available .. I bet you will wish you had more than 3 nights there at the end of your stay

Enjoy every minute of your vacation in Oz

Abbey

6. Re: Dec visit -best 12 day in QLD -Debating a trip to Hamilton

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