Bucket List This: Hayman Island, Australia

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A view of the Whitsundays on the helicopter flight in.

The One & Only resort reinvention turns island idyll on the Great Barrier Reef


It’s Sunday in the Whitsundays. “Sun” seems to be the common denominator, the operative word here. The Whitsundays, a tiny gaggle of islands, fuzzy pale green dots anchored in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, in the north east of Australia. It’s sunny on Hayman Island, too, the most northerly of the Whitsundays, where the population is made up of R and R seekers and those that do their best to service that need.

It is the spot of the newest One & Only resort, the hotel group that counts Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, the Palmilla in Los Cabos to be exact, as well as the Ocean Club in the Bahamas (Daniel Craig famously stayed the night at the resort there in his debut star turn as 007). Add locations in The Maldives, Cape Town, two in Dubai, and Mauritius, and you start to get the picture. Exclusive, private, lush, tropical, reclusive, all words that evoke a sense of getaway, of peace, of, well, money.

But isn’t that the point? When we seek the solace of a holiday, there are times in our lives that go beyond the practical, a time when a milestone should be celebrated, or perhaps even more critical: while the world keeps spinning round, sometimes it’s just time to get off, stop, breathe. Go far, spend time. Do nothing. And everything.

The nothing to do at Hayman Island could also be considered a bucket list of sorts. Take the ferry launch from Hamilton Island’s airport and you’ve started off with a gorgeous sail. Or go bananas and, hell, arrive via helicopter. The sky’s the limit.

But again, isn’t that the point? We read stories, psychology of why we don’t take our holidays, our banked vacation time; we are crunched for time, for cash, for the will to take a step to plan. But the boomer in us knows different. We do have the time; we can afford it. Our own Zoomer readers state clearly they are intrepid travellers, they take three or more trips a year. We are lovers of hotels, we appreciate the finer things in life (after a bit of good old fashioned Canadian scrutiny of course; we are value for the money seekers after all).

But I digress. Let’s get back to that bucket list. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef? Check. Take in a sunset that can be seen all the way to New Zealand? Check. A helicopter flight over heart shaped, turquoise and tan reefs, swimming dolphins and crystal water? Check. Walk in the wild with Wallabees at dusk? Check. Sail to an even smaller island and float on your back, face sunward like you are a kid again, in the azure waters off a private beach? Check. Did I catch you grinning, knee deep in the nostalgia, just for a sec?

If that’s not enough, let me leave you with this imagery: This morning, a pair of cockatiels, pure white, a stark contrast against the green of the palms on which they perch, scan their domain. The breeze gently bobs the branches where they sit, the breeze ruffles their feathers and the fronds. The moving air creates a soundtrack, like the pattering of gentle rain.

Blue sky, yellow sun, white birds, green palms. Paradise, found. www.oneandonlyresorts.com

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The calm hues of tan and cream in a poolside suite.

Everybody into the pool, right from your own private terrace.

Casual dining is served around the pools with the island’s lush hillsides in view.

A bird’s-eye view of The Great Barrier Reef’s famous heart-shape reef.

Our ride to the our private Whitehaven beach island picnic.

Beach blanket bingo! On the white sand at Whitehaven beach, complete with picnic basket.

Back on the beach at Hayman Island, where you might encounter sand sculptures.

Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh. Flora and fauna are everywhere on the island.

Sunset over the Whitsundays.

Climb the Whitsunday Lookout from the resort: it’s worth it, as the stunning view is the reward.