Our Travel Experience
This trip turned out to be almost like a five year wedding anniversary celebration since for our pre honeymoon we spent time on the neighboring Hamilton Island. We knew we wanted a luxury beach vacation, but we had a hard time deciding when and where.
Due to work vacation restrictions stemming from Y2K computer problem fears, we were unable to take take off on our real 5 year anniversary. December 1, 1999 was just too close to New Year's and all vacations were being denied. So, instead of an exotic holiday destination on our anniversary, we had a nice dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant called Monsoon. We celebrated our anniversary the year before in the exact same way actually.
The work vacation restrictions lasted until just after February 29th, 2000... so, we were flying off the following week. We had alot of time to plan for our vacation since we couldn't actually go on vacation until 3 months after we wanted to. Tara investigated the Maldives combined with a stop in Kuala Lumpur, a week in Bali at the Ritz Carlton, an island off the coast of Malaysia, a week in Fiji, etc. etc. etc. Bali and Fiji were out due to political problems in the two countries and the island off the coast of Malaysia didn't really look luxurious enough. So, in the end, we decided to go to Hayman Island since we could fly out on Friday after work and arrive at the resort island on Saturday. For the Maldives - where we REALLY wanted to go, we couldn't fly on Friday, we'd have to wait until Saturday and then spend a night in KL and then get to the Maldives resort on Sunday. Also, leaving the Maldives resort would have to be done during the daytime hours even though our flight home would be at 2 am since there were no more helicopter nighttime transfers - only daytime float plane transfers. So, even though, we really wanted to go back to the Rangali Hilton, going to Hayman Island was much simpler.
Plus, if we flew business class in Australia on Qantas, Seth was assured of retaining his Silver frequent flier card on British Airways and we thought this would help us when we were off traveling the next year.
Hayman Island was a good choice since it turned out to really feel like a special celebration the moment we arrived on Hamilton Island. Instead of taking the first boat to Hayman Island, we decided to go to the Animal Park we'd visited five years earlier.
The Hamilton Island Animal Park had changed a bit in five years, but was still just as fun. Instead of multi-colored hungry birds, there were big, white colored cockatoos who were hungry. Instead of Gumnut the koala, there was xxxx the koala. We even found a fun place in the park we hadn't seen before when we walked around the back of the koala house. We were surprised to be face to face with cute little koalas pressed right up against the wire windows. We saw lots of little, padded feet as everyone slept!
After a fun few hours at the Animal Park, we boarded the boat bound for Hayman Island. Tara has requested (but could not be guaranteed) an ocean view room in the (EAST? WEST?) wing and we were very happy to receive exactly what we asked for. We had a lovely view from our balcony out over the beach and water. The resort was built in a way to feel like you were the only people there sometimes.
We were the only people watching the sunset on a little beach. Well, that is unless you could the birds cracking nuts in their beaks or the very friendly staff member who walked by to collect un-needed towels. We settled into Hayman quickly and made a habit of ordering room service and eating on our balcony as it was getting dark and the bats were coming out. The home style cut friends dipped in sour cream and hot, red sauce were absolutely delicious!
We also were often the only people out on the main beach. Tara's favorite pastime on the beach was looking for shells. Sometimes the shells were occupied, but most of the time they were vacated and thus fair game for Tara. When the tide was out, you could walk out to where there had been water and manta rays just hours before.
One day, we were tired of lounging around and decided to join on a snorkeling trip. We rode a boat to a nearby reef where a BIG, friendly fish lived. Tara got to pet him a few times. Unfortunately, the snorkeling wasn't that good. We had expected better since we remembered such vivid expanses of reef from 1994.
Because our snorkeling trip was so disappointing, we decided to take a day log trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. It was at least an hour out to the reef and we got to talk with two guys from Florida who recommend that we visit islands at the South of Italy. The boat trip was a REALLY rough ride & just so, so scuba diving. Seth actually threw up three times on the way back, so he had a really rough time.
We were in luck when we went to the health club to inquire about massages. Tara ended up enjoying a massage and Seth tried out the flotation tank for the first time.
Other memories include:
- the animals you KNEW were there when walking on the grounds at night
- taking a little boat out and paddling around
- reading in the whirlpool
- playing mini golf
- laying on the beach with no one else
- how the place got deserted near sunset
|We went to Narita together with Seth's friend Egon from work. Egon
and his family were flying home to New Zealand just about an hour before
we were scheduled to fly to Australia, so the timing was great and it made
the hour long Narita Express go by quickly.
Here is Egon with his wife and daughter. Seth had fun playing with the little girl on the trip to Narita. Afterwards, Seth remarked that Tara looked at the little girl like she looks at big, dangerous looking dogs! ie. She's a bit scared and just doesn't know how to act around big dogs or kids.
|As soon as we landed on Hamilton Island, we checked to see if we had time to go to the Hamilton Island Animal Park. We'd been to the Animal Park when we stayed on Hamilton Island during our pre honeymoon in 1994. In 1994 I included this stop on our itinerary since I was not going to visit Australia without seeing a kangaroo and a koala. We were excited to go back. This time we held a baby Koala called Gumdrop whereas five years ago we held a baby called Gumnut.|
|It was fun to see the Animal Park again. The only big difference we noticed was that the multicolored birds that flew wild five years ago had been displaced by big white cockatoos who flew wild and invited us to feed them. We again decided not to rent a small golf cart. Thus, we might have to come back again one day and use the fun, but slow golf cart form of transportation.|
|Upon arrival at Hayman Island, we were really happy with the room allocated
to us. It had a beautiful beach view and was partly sunny - which Tara
liked and partly cloudy - which Seth liked.
We spent alot of time on this balcony reading, taking pictures, eating and watching the bats fly overhead at dusk.
|Sunsets from our balcony were very enjoyable. Usually we'd order room service and sit out on our balcony as the sun set and the bats came out to fly overhead. Seth loves to see bats bats, so it was a real treat.|
|A little lizard came to visit us one night in our room..|
|This beautiful pool is what Tara remembered about Hayman Island from when she was investigating where we were going to stay on our pre Honeymoon in 1994. She also remembered that Hayman Island was way too expensive for us to stay there in 1994. Therefore, it was really neat to be here at this pool five years later. We've also seen this pool in many travel magazines, so now that we've been here, it will be kool to see the pool shot from now on and be able to think "we've been there"!|
|We spend lazy days by the pool. The hotel provided floating lounges and we floated these lounges around the pool before settling underneath a walkway so that we didn't get sun burnt. The rooms overlooking this pool in the west wing looked neat, but we were perfectly happy with our east wing room - especially since I bet it was quieter and better suited to napping!|
|We enjoyed the large library the hotel offered. It was especially nice
since it was open all the time and you could come get or return a book
whenever you wanted. One time we were especially lucky and the internet
computer was free. Seth got a kick out of sending an e-mail to his parents
and friends saying "guess where I am?". We didn't sent any more e-mail
though, since the next day the we found out that using the internet machine
actually cost money!
|Starting every single day in a beautiful beachside setting was very enjoyable. We were even very restrained when we approached the all-you-can-eat buffet. Maybe we were still having nightmares the buffet's in Mauritius, but we were so happy that we stayed on our diet and only pigged out once at day with our room service dinners.|
|Overall Experience||9||EXACTLY what we expected from a luxury beach resort.|
|Ease of Journey||6||The trip was long because we had to take two planes and a boat to get to Hayman Island from Tokyo. On the way back, we couldn't make the connection in Brisbane on the same day, so we had to stay over. No big deal, since we hadn't spent time in Brisbane before and we always like to visit new places.|
|Accommodation||9||Exactly what we expected!|
|Activities||9||Laying around the resort was our #1 activity. The snorkeling and scuba diving were OK, but not as good as from Cairns or from Rangali Island in the Maldives. The free windsurfing, massage and float tank were fun.|
When: Friday, March 3, 2000 - Sunday, March 12, 2000
Tourist Offices: http://www.austria-info.at/oew/oew_e.html (global listing)
Web Sites: http://www.hayman.com.au or http://www.whitsundays.com
Flights: Tokyo to Brisbane on Qantas 360 leaving Tokyo March 3 at 9:45pm and arriving Brisbane the next day at 7:25am
Brisbane to Hamilton Island on Qantas 884 leaving Brisbane at 9:00am to 10:45pm
Hamilton Island to Hayman Island on Qantas "flight" 2974. Really a boat trip of about an hour. We opted to take a later boat because we wanted to go to the Hamilton Island Animal Park since we'd been there five years before.
Hayman Island to Hamilton Island on Qantas "flight" 2971 on March 11 at 9:30am to 10:15am
Hamilton Island to Brisbane on Qantas leaving Hamilton Island at 11:15am to 12:45pm
overnight in Brisbane at the Sheraton Brisbane Hotel & Towers
Brisbane to Tokyo on Qantas 369 leaving Brisbane March 12 at 9:30am and arriving Tokyo at 5:20pm
Tokyo - Brisbane -Tokyo purchased through Number 1 Travel in Shibuya, Japan
Brisbane - Hamilton - Hayman - Hamilton - Brisbane purchased direct through Qantas. We needed British Airways frequent flier miles so that Seth could retain his silver membership card. Therefore, we flew business class and paid JPY 85,500 each.
Travel Time: About 2 hours via train
Hotel: Hayman Island - East Wing Room. We bought a Dollarwise-Sunlover voucher through the Queensland Travel Center at http://www.queensland-travel-centre.com.au. I organized absolutely everything with Alison Lowry via e-mail. We paid AUD 2,460 for 7 nights room & breakfast and then spent another 1769 on room service, snorkeling, massages and a float tank experience for Seth :-)