We have just returned from two weeks on Hamilton Island up in the Whitsundays. We wanted to take one last family holiday with the six of us before the kids got work commitments, girlfriends and other interests to stop them coming (although trampolining and friends were missed terribly). To ease the friends issue with my eldest, we invited one of his friends for five nights and she fitted in so easily with our family, she was the perfect choice - easygoing, helpful, polite, funny, a joy to have with us.
We stayed in a fabulous house called Allamanda House. It was 3 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a large kitchen and living area, BBQ area, pool and very private. It really felt like home. Highly recommend it. The owners are just lovely, very accommodating, even providing us with a juicer and blender when we requested it.
The first week was really good weather, even though every day the weather bureau threatened rain. We had a day trip out to the Reef to go snorkelling among the coral and it was absolutely amazing. We had four hours out there, spotting Nemo and friends, with lunch included and T and I managed about an hour on our own as they had free babysitting on the pontoon as well. K did really well, took to snorkelling like a fish and really enjoyed herself. The three big kids - D, M and D's friend spent pretty much four hours snorkelling, absolutely loving it. N panicked about the stingers despite being fully kitted out in a stinger suit complete with a hood, all of us looking very much like brightly coloured aliens. He lasted about half an hour before it got too much and the rescue boat popped him back to the pontoon.
We also managed a day at Whitehaven Beach, one of the top ten beaches in the world (according to whom, I don't know but I'm happy to spout that statistic). It is absolutely sparkling white sand and pristine water with views underwater for a very long way. I mostly sat in the water chatting to other holiday goers including to 20 year old girls from America doing a year of uni over here and travelling up the east coast for a couple of weeks. They were so funny and so much fun, I spent the whole time in hysterics. At the end they took a photo of all of us with them and called us their second family - so cute :) The kids played volleyball and rubbed themselves with the sand which is so fine, it feels great on your skin.
For D's 17th birthday we gave him a quad bike ride up to the top of the island which he loved. We swam in our own playing Marco Polo and all of the resort pools, drinking cocktails and listening to live music, went out for dinner a couple of times with just the two of us and had amazing chats and buzzed around the island in the bright yellow (spotto) golf buggy. We had cocktails at sunset up on One Tree Hill which shows 360 degree views of the whole island and water and played racquet ball five or six days in a row - our new addiction!
The second week was a lot wetter and the two middle boys had ear infections so was much quieter. I completed a 2000 piece tiger jigsaw puzzle with help from the kids, we went out for coffee, out for pizza with the whole family and rode the glass elevators in the Reef View Hotel. We also played the iPhones a lot, read, watched DVDs and chillaxed. We had plans to go to bingo, trivia and a tennis lesson but didn't happen for various reasons. There is so much to do there, both active and relaxing.
We ended up coming home a day early as our flight for the Saturday was cancelled due to Tropical Cyclone Ului. We could have stayed until the Sunday but I'm glad we didn't now, apparently it was quite a bad night. Next time, T and I will go on the Sunset Kayak paddle, the Seafood Sunset dinner and do a bit more hiking and exploring around the island.
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