Stephen took a short vacation of eight days down to Hamilton Island, a tropical island that checked all the boxes for surf, sand, and sun.
Getting there and around
He traveled by air, and found his airline, Qantas, to be extremely pleasant and helpful to his needs. Qantas allowed Stephen to stay in his manual wheelchair up until he boarded the plane and had to transfer to his plane seat. Upon departure, he also received his wheelchair in good condition.
There were wheelchair-accessible bus transfers provided at the airport to the accommodation. Stephen also learned about the other transportation services to get around the island. The first is the rental of golf buggies at about $90 per day, and it requires a car license to drive one. The second option is the island’s free bus shuttle service. There are 3 coloured bus services (green, orange, and purple), and they each have different intervals and routes. Only the green and half of the orange buses are wheelchair-accessible. Stephen and his friends chose the latter, which made travelling around much more convenient.
Accommodations-wise, Stephen and company stayed in Whitsunday Holiday Apartments. There was a lift to take them to their room on the fifth floor. While the living room and bedrooms were spacious, Stephen found the bathroom to be a little small, and there were no handrails. However, the holiday apartment provided a shower bench, and everything in the bathroom was within reach for Stephen. The beautiful room, coupled with the scenic view over the main beach from his room, made his stay all the more pleasant.
Having some (questionably accessible) fun
Stephen spent the first half of his vacation relaxing by the pool and beach. The beach offered many water activities, and the equipment staff were very helpful.
“The guys at the equipment hut were laid back and willing to help. Although there was no flat access to the beach, they did have a beach chair and happily carried it down the stairs for me.”
He and his friends then decided to visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitehaven Beach. They headed to two travel information counters to do some research about accessibility for these two locations. One did not offer such information. The other was up a flight of stairs, and luckily, Stephen had his friends around to make the trip there.
As the Whitehaven Beach could only be reached via speedboat, Stephen opted out of it. But Stephen did visit the Great Barrier Reef. Stephen had called ahead to make sure the excursion was accessible, and the staff told him it was. Stephen shares his experience upon arrival:
“The staff were very helpful and ensured that we were in the right line, and the first onto the boat. It occurred to me very quickly however, that when the tourist desk said “its accessible, just come down and well get you on” they meant that they were going to play it by ear and hoped it worked out for them. Getting on and off the ferry required them to carry me up a set of stairs, but once I was on it was fine.”
While most of the activities offered were inaccessible, Stephen managed to snorkel and visit the underwater viewing area with the staffs’ assistance.
The rest of the trip was filled with shopping and good food. There were many delectable delights Stephen could choose from, including Romano’s, an Italian restaurant by the marina, and Coca Chu, a Southeast Asian hawker food style restaurant. Most shops and restaurants have a step to enter, but their interior spaces are generally quite spacious.
Overall, Stephen had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday at Hamilton Island. “It’s a great holiday destination for someone looking to relax, re-energize, and enjoy themselves,” he says.
Are you looking for a summer holiday by the sea? You could perhaps consider taking a trip down to Hamilton Island!