I love running on Hamilton Island and I got to know it quite quickly. I would head out of the small Qualia estate and head to the Marina, running past all the hotels. At that time of the morning you see very few guests but a lot of staff, who are invariably young kids on working holidays so they can see the world. Australia is one of their top choices.

I’d wave hello and keep running. As you head out from the northern most tip it is very hilly, and you can follow moderate and challenging walking paths around the island. Although most people take their buggy down to Cat’s Eye Bay, for me exploring by foot is the ultimate way to feel your way through terrain. Qualia supply a great little walking trails guide for different fitness levels.

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The Modus Operandi at Qualia really is ‘pull the brake up and chill.’ Even I, usually an action man ready to get every last drop out of an experience, really adapted to the locale. Sheira caught up on her reading and I, for once, didn’t feel guilty doing nothing but drinking in the environment. Here at Qualia it is by stopping down that you really embrace the place.

One way to
do that is by getting into all the wellness facilities. We tend to stay outdoors and do our own thing but the “Spa Qualia” is the main attraction for a lot of guests who come up for a rejuvenation weekend. If that’s your focus there is plenty to keep you glowing: aromatherapy, massages all day and a full menu of treatments, including the signature ‘Bularri Yarru’ hot stone massage using 300 million-year-old stones (you gotta have a gimmick, as the saying goes). The spa is in keeping with the resort décor and there is also a gym, yoga centre and library, so the facilities are really up to par.

You don’t really need to leave the compound…

When spending
serious money most people want to feel like the James Bond of the travel world and go exclusive all the way. You have to get through the Qualia gates before you feel that rush of ‘the best.’ You could easily avoid most of Hamilton Island and not miss anything; it is sometimes nice not to have to over think a place. But if, like me, you are the sort of person to get up in the morning and get out of a gated community, your best bet would be to spend half a day on another beach.

We only took our buggy out of the estate to go down to the Hamilton Island Marina (you can also buy incidentals at the store), which we loved after dinner at night, under the stars in a cool breeze, by the water. There are bars open down there but I was told that Qualia’s Green Apple and Lychee mohitos are so good that you can do all the partying you need to poolside. Although the Marina is already impressive they are currently building a major new ‘Super Yacht Club’ to catch the really big whales!

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Once you leave Hamilton Island behind you are in an oasis of pristine water, turquoise water and tropical topography. It’s Mother Nature at her most over the top. You are also at the gateway of the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef, considered one of the world’s great natural wonders; it’s one of the must-see places for visitors to Australia, and another great reason to come to Qualia. The desk will advise you how to negotiate your way though the region.

You can charter
a boat to go on a diving/snorkeling adventure amongst the carnival yellows, purples, fuchsias and electric blues of a whole other underwater world. You can picnic on quiet beaches, accessible only by water. It’s all a day trip away. I recommend the ‘Farm Qualia’ excursion so that you can have a private experience of the Barrier Reef at your own pace. Avoid the large boat trips, which take you into touristic herd territory.

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This is one of our favourite beaches in the whole world because once you are there it is pure peace. Just you on a completely untouched island, under a big sky looking out at endless horizon. How many places on the planet can you do this? How often do you find sand so fine and pure that it runs through your fingers like powder, feeling beautifully soft under your feet? The feeling of total privacy and isolation from the world is like the ultimate palate cleanser before you get back to the madness of civilization.

The beauty of helicopters is that they not only open up the isolated corners of the world, they widen your perspective of the journey there. We loved the rush of the ride to Whitehaven, which was already a favourite beach of ours. We also took a chopper for practical reasons as we were island hopping to Hayman Island and couldn’t get bogged down in ferry timetables. You can fly alone, or share with 2 other couples to cut costs - which means you can also bring along your own friends…

We left from Qualia’s
own helipad, flying over islands, pine forests, boulders and rocky land edges until 15 minutes later we were approaching Whitehaven Beach. Sheira and I felt so carefree that we were behaving like children, frolicking in sand that was amazing just to walk over; swimming in a lukewarm, turquoise ocean.

The isolation means no facilities, toilets, nada (which I suppose is the point)… But you can organise to have a lunch and umbrella etc set up and then the pilot drops you there on your own. In this part of the world, a Qualia-prepared lunch on one of the Whitsunday’s most secluded beaches could be a standout memory. It will certainly only add to the sense of calm that Qualia has already created.

There is a good chance that you’ll get the beach to yourself but even in peak season, if another helicopter arrives, they will spread out so far that you’ll still be picnicking solo. You can take a video guy from the mainland if you want to capture the moment and pinch yourself later once back in the city.

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