The Family Island of a tropical island paradise always remains in the memory for the fortunate visitor. To be surrounded by islands in paradise as a permanent resident is a dream come true for the author.

Shutehaven is a small hamlet high on the hills above Shute Harbour and the views from the verandah overlook The Whitsunday Passage and The Molle Channel. The harbour is a bustling centre for marine traffic plying tourists to the island resorts and The Great Barrier Reef. With the Bare Boat Charters and the constant to and fro of barge traffic servicing the islands it remains second to Sydney Harbour in traffic volume Australia wide.

A ten minute shuttle service to the east across The Molle Channel will take you from the harbour to Daydream Island. The palm trees beckon from the shoreline as we approach on one of the many vessels operating to and fro. Guests are always amazed when they encounter the tropical fish so close to shore at Sunlovers Beach. The island has a natural aquarium that is maintained and stocked with tropical fish and coral that is harvested from local sources.

A short ten minute cruise will take you through Unsafe Passage into Bauer Bay and the approach to South Molle Island. This island has been closed for upgrades and reopens on 28 Feb. 2009 as Koala Adventure Island. The resort will cater for the over eighteens and will have nightly entertainment, resident DJ’s and live bands. This will be a great addition to the facilities provided in Airlie Beach for the thousands of Backpackers that visit the area.

South of Shute Harbour we can see the harbour on Long Island. Beach accommodation has recently been upgraded and the laid back style will suit the less energetically inclined visitor. The large pool is close to the beach where watersports are available to the ready and willing. Several walking trails can be negotiated but on our last visit some of the lookout views were obstructed by plant and tree growth. After a walk in the heat, the Pool Bar is the main target. Grab a beer, relax and watch the bikinis play volleyball on the beach.

Further South we cruise past Dent Island and arrive at the harbour on Hamilton Island. We disembark and stroll into Front Street. Several restaurants, shops, an ice-cream parlour, post office and paper shop, and of course, the bakery and yacht club are all situated here. These amenities are necessary because the island has an ever increasing permanent population.

Over forty activities are provided on the island and the main resort has a huge swimming pool. Coaches provide visitors with trips to the various lookouts and operate all day long. Buggy Hire is another method of transport that is very popular, and advisable, because the island has some rather steep hills to negotiate. Several types of accommodation ranging from The Bungalows at the less expensive range, up to The Beach Club for the more affluent are available for individual requirements.

The island has an airport that has direct flights to the Southern Capitals.

Bob Oatley, the Island owner, is in the process of building a resort and golf course on neighbouring Dent Island. All Whitsunday visitors should take a trip to Whitsunday Island which lies slightly northeast of Hamilton Island. This island is 100% National Park and is in pristine condition. There are no resorts on the island but there is one campsite that is overseen by The National Parks and Wildlife. We will be visiting next week on board ‘Camira’ an 85 foot catamaran operating out of Abel Point Marina. Several times a week she leaves Abel Point Marina at Airlie Beach, calling at Daydream Island en route to an anchorage off Whitehaven Beach. A cruise to one of the top ten rated beaches on the planet is a must do trip for The Whitsunday Visitor.

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