My eyes are closed and I can feel the cool wind sweep across my body, my unruly hair whipping my face. I smell the ocean – fresh, slightly salty and clean. I breathe the air deeply into my lungs and allow my senses to centre and focus. I need this moment of clarity and I can feel my mind thanking me for this brief minute.
An uncontrollable giggle breaks my reverie and my eyes open to focus on my five-year-old son, who is holding his hat tightly on his head and enjoying the sense of freedom this boat ride offers.
The turquoise-blue ocean stretches before us and jade-green islands majestically rise from its water.
Soon our destination appears – a small island of white sand, a blend of tropical and natural plants and home to one of the Whitsundays’ newest and most stylish resorts.
Daydream Island Resort may have old bones – its history dates back to the 1930s – but it has recently undergone a $100-million redevelopment after it was battered during Australia’s second-most costly tropical storm, Cyclone Debbie, in 2017.
The result is a contemporary vision encompassing 277 refurbished rooms and suites, stylish foyer, lounge and the eco-friendly Living Reef. The free-form coral lagoon, which wraps 200 metres around the central building, is home to more than 100 species of local marine life including fish, small sharks and rays. And, it creates quite a stunning centrepiece for this pretty resort.
It was this reef that kept our son entertained each breakfast and dinner during our four-night getaway. As he mused: it isn’t every day you can watch sharks swim by as you enjoy your pancake stack.
Marine education and preservation is a key value of the team at Daydream Island, and this is evident in the activities and experiences on offer. There is the chance to join the marine biologists in the Reef Rangers program, snorkel in the ocean, swim with the stingrays or learn more about coral and mangrove systems at the Education Centre.
For those who prefer to stay dry, the Underwater Observatory is a highlight not to be missed. As you descend the four metres down to the dimly-lit room beneath, you will come face to face with a stunning array of marine creatures viewed through the seven- by three-metre window
Marine life isn’t the only wild experience on offer at Daydream, as we discovered on a morning stroll to Lover’s Cove.
The small pebble and shell-covered beach is a haven for snorkellers, and also for the island’s resident wallaby and kangaroo population. The curious creatures will happily watch as their human visitors frolic and take in the wonders of this tropical, relaxing paradise.
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: Jetstar and Virgin Australia offer flights from Brisbane direct to Proserpine and Hamilton Island. From here you can transfer via Cruise Whitsundays to Daydream Island. Timetables and pricing are available online. Visit cruisewhitsundays.com.
STAYING THERE: Daydream offers a range of accommodation options from the standard room to the serenity suite, which boasts views over the stunning Lover’s Cove. We opted for the superior room with pool and ocean views. All rooms have been renovated, are light-filled and some have a small balcony. You can currently book a four-night package for a family of four for $1299 excluding airfares. Conditions apply.
PLAYING THERE: If you are after an action-packed holiday, this is not the place for you. That said, there is still plenty to keep both children and adults entertained, from kayaking, snorkelling and fish feeding, to jet ski tours and swimming with baby stingrays.
TOP 3 THINGS TO DO:
Daydream Island is only one of the fabulous places to visit while holidaying in the Whitsundays.
- DAY TRIP
Whitehaven Island is the destination that dreams are made of. The purest white sand (so pure that 98 per cent of it consists of quartz) crystal blue water, native bushland and cloudless skies. Cruise Whitsundays offers various day trips that include a visit to this Queensland paradise. For the adventurous, the Ultimate Whitehaven Beach Hike, Hill Inlet & Lookout tour, from $299 per person, is a full day of exploring the natural beauty of the island. For young families, we recommend the Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island tour, priced from $185 per person.
- AIRLIE BEACH
No visit to the Whitsundays is complete without a night or two at the beachside village of Airlie. The sleepy township is nestled on the blue coastline and is the gateway to the tropical islands. If you are there on a Saturday, be sure to start your day at the bustling markets. Situated along the esplanade, there is a wide range of fresh produce, art and craft and even camel rides. Continue your day by lunching at one of the many cafes adjacent to the market grounds. We love Italian restaurant La Tabella for its fresh, delicious fare, solid wine list and views. Families may prefer to dine at the recently renovated The Pub at Airlie Beach Hotel. The large and modern alfresco area is the perfect place to sit back and take in the beautiful weather. The meals are tasty and hearty in size.
- HIT THE ROAD
If you choose to spend some time in Airlie Beach, a visit to Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill is a must. Perched beachfront on the outskirts of the town, it is also home to the new Nakamal Pavilion and Moon Bar – both which offer views for days and the perfect place to unwind. Northerlies offers a shuttle service. Visit northerlies.com.au for more information.
For more visit daydreamisland.com.