A charming town nestled on the Whitsunday Coast, Bowen amazes tourists and locals alike with its award-winning beaches, beautiful bays and tropical warmth. Laying in the northern region on the shores of Edgecumbe Bay, this humble town is only 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach - the seaside town known as the beach lover’s paradise.
A quirky fun fact about Bowen is that its Australia’s mango capital, with a big mango statue to honour the town’s fame. Pose in front of it and snap a pic as it’s definitely one of the highlights travelling along the East Coast.
Filled with wide streets and wooden homes, the town runs on beach time, with friendly locals who are happy to kick their feet up and have a drink at the pub.
Make sure you tick these off your list of things to do in Bowen before your departure to Hamilton Island:
Grab a tray of mangoes and indulge
Seek out the town’s 24 murals using a walking map available at the visitor centre by the big mango statue
Swim at Horseshoe Bay; or walk around its many trails through massive granite rocks
Head to the top of Bowen Hill Lookout and absorb the picturesque panoramic 360 degree views.
And last but not least,take a drive past the iconic Grand View Hotel which dates back to 1918 and attracts travellers from all corners of Queensland. It also played host to Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman with the privilege of featuring in the all-time classic film ‘Australia’.
Adding to its accolades, the Grand View Hotel was awarded the ‘Best Overall Hotel’ in 2014 by the Queensland Hotel Association. Recent renovations have seen it win the award for ‘Best Redeveloped Licensed Premises above $2 million” with its achievements bolstered by local patrons regarding it as the best pub in town. Great value for money, the food is exquisite with the specialty dish being the cold trout.
With a sports bar, a restaurant, a beer garden, a gaming room, a function room, and a marquee that overlooks the ocean, the Grand View Hotel is set to impress. Beautiful clean decor, exceptional customer service, all you could ever want of local hospitality. It comes as no surprise that it is one of Bowen’s most highly rated places on TripAdvisor.
Heading from Bowen to Hamilton Island
There are several ways to get from Bowen depending on your travel preferences and budget.
A more luxurious (and costly) route, private charter flights can easily be organised from Bowen to Hamilton Island Airport for a quick and direct route across the Whitsundays. Promising astonishing views of the bright blue ocean, coral reefs, and islands, a view from above will be one to be remembered.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have the expertise under your belt, you may choose to hire a boat to travel to Hamilton Island.
There, you will find a welcoming berth at the Hamilton Island Marina - but be sure to book in advance and arrange logistics too. The marina offers comprehensive boatyard services including full chandlery, fuel supply and quality provisioning including access to resort facilities such as acclaimed restaurants and world class spa and shopping facilities.
Driving to Airlie Beach
To get to Hamilton Island from Bowen by car, you will need to head toward Airlie Beach.The coastal drive from Bowen to Airlie Beach is scenic with many wonderful stops that should be experienced. Discover one of Queensland’s best kept secrets - Dingo Beach and Cape Gloucester.
These breathtaking and undeveloped parts of the coast offer a raw scene into nature which is quiet and tranquil. To make the most of these secret spots, make plans to visit as soon as possible before developers discover its potential and turn it into a tourist hotspot.
Ferry from Airlie to Hamilton Island
There are ferry cruises to Hamilton Island throughout the day from Shute Harbour and Port of Airlie. Long term parking is available at Port of Airlie terminals along with additional parking options in the area.
The drive from Bowen to Port of Airlie is an 81 kilometre drive taking around an hour non stop. The drive from Bowen to Shute Harbour is almost 90 kilometres taking around 1 hour and 10 minutes non-stop. From Bowen, follow the Bruce Highway south turning off at Airlie Beach.
There are also passenger ferry services which take 60 minutes from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Marina. These ferries depart from the Port of Airlie Marina and Shute Harbour and service over a dozen shuttles a day.
For those who would like to take advantage of the Whitsunday tours, operators depart from the marina for their excursions to the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach, and other Whitsunday Islands.
The beauty of Hamilton Island
As one of the 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island is the most popular as it promises an iconic island experience.
Nestled at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, the picturesque views are breathtaking enough to make Instagram jealous. With luxurious accommodation to help your mind relax, the fun has only begun as you discover the multitude of activities that await you. From sea kayaking, fishing, scenic helicopter tours, and even a breakfast with koalas experience at the Wild Life Hamilton Island, there’s something for everyone. A kaleidoscope of marine life and corals surround you, so feel free to get your feet wet and go for a swim.
It’s no wonder Hamilton Island is such a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. To make things easy, there’s a complimentary marina. airport and accommodation transfers. With mild temperatures throughout the year, Hamilton Island is perfect to visit anytime.
Image credit: Hamilton Island