Five years ago my good friends got married on Daydream Island and judging by the photos I saw and stories I heard it looked and sounded AMAZING.
Celebrating their marriage with a group of friends living it up on an island in The Whitsundays for a week, who wouldn’t be up for that?
Well, us unfortunately. At the time our friends got married we were living in North Carolina and due to the long distance, financial strain and job commitments we could not attend.
But, we finally got a taste of what they experienced earlier this year. Daydream was just one of the many places we visited during our two months in Queensland. Our mistake this time was only staying for 24 hours.
After arriving in Airlie Beach we dumped the car at the port and jumped on the ferry for the 3o minute crossing to Daydream, ready for some island time. This would be our second island getaway since Fraser Island and Daydream is just one of 74 islands in The Whitsundays.
We’d arrived late afternoon so hurried the kids off the ferry, checked in to our room and then raced across the island to see the sunset. It was the beginning of a magical 24 hour stay.
This is what we got up to.
Sunset at Lovers Cove
Every good island needs a beautiful sunset and Lovers Cove is a good place to be on Daydream.
Instantly I recognized this spot from my friends wedding photos as the place they got hitched. What a brilliant setting to say I do. Of course I had to text them a photo and say “we made it, only five years late”.
Lovers Cove is a lovely little beach area for the kids to play on whilst you sit back and take in the last hour of the day, the sun sinking slowly over the rocks and horizon, and a cold drink in hand is compulsory.
Morning beach walk and wildlife spotting
What I found amazing is you can go to a resort island in Queensland and wake up to seeing some kangaroos down by the beach and outside your room. Apparently they were Wallaroos, but who’s judging!
I know Island life is all about relaxing and maybe sleeping in a little, but hey, we were there for one night only and if you have young kids like us sleep ins are a thing of the past.
So if you’re the morning type get out of bed at dawn and meet the friendly and photogenic wallaroos down by Mermaids Beach, take a short stroll along the waters edge (just don’t expect powdery white soft sand like nearby Whitehaven Beach) and this is the best time to claim your sun lounge.
How’s that for a start to your day?
Living Reef – meeting Bruce, Pikelet and Pancake
If you’re visiting Daydream with kids, and even if you’re not, one of the exciting activities on Daydream Island is the interactive Living Reef educational experience.
Living Reef is one of the world’s largest man-made living coral reef lagoons and Kalyra and Savannah loved the opportunity to get up close and personal with some friends from the ocean world.
We met Bruce the sickle fin lemon shark, held a star fish, and got to feed the resident sting rays – Pikelet and Pancake.
But the funniest moment was watching Caz feed the barramundi. Have you ever hand fed barra before? Be ready, they are like lightening taking the food out of your fingers.
It was so great seeing our kids faces light up with this hands on experience and to be able learn about marine life in a safe environment.
Daydream puts on free educational feeding sessions twice a day, or you can participate in the Stingray Splash experience – you walk knee-deep into the Living Reef and hand-feed the stingrays for 45 minutes.
Kayaking at Mermaids Beach
Our kids are like most kids, they love the water, as we do and any chance we get to get out there we’re up for it. It was time for some physical activity and first up was taking the kayaks for a spin.
Little Savannah sat with me as we went paddling just off shore and she got to enjoy some lovely views out over The Whitsundays and I got some much needed exercise.
Apologies for the crappy mobile phone pics mixed in here, but you get the picture. Really need to get that waterproof camera!
Caz and Kalyra joined us in another kayak for a family paddle and it was a lovely way to start the morning activities.
SUP – Stand Up Paddle Boarding
I had done stand up paddle boarding once before and loved it, but this was the first time for Caz and now I think we’ll both be looking for other opportunities to go for a paddle.
What a pleasant way to get some exercise, it really works your core muscles around your tummy area and helps with your balance, besides being a ton of fun.
Caz went ok, however the most exciting part was seeing Kalyra take this on and take it on she did. Whilst I had to rescue her a couple of times from paddling out to sea or crashing into one of the sailing boats, she did awesome for a six year old and we couldn’t get her off it.
Next time I might throw Savannah on the front of my board, I’m sure she’d enjoy the ride.
Next up was snorkeling. Caz and Kalyra joined a guided snorkeling tour that took in the waters and coral beginning at Mermaids Beach and ending around the corner at Lovers Cove.
Savannah and I decided to follow on Kayak and play support crew. In hindsight it was a little too far for Kalyra and we didn’t make the return journey, instead staying at Lovers Cove for some easy snorkeling there.
If you’re not up for the longer snorkel tour, just grab some fins and a mask and head to Lovers Cove. It’s fringed by outcrops of live coral and colourful fish life, who will happily eat from your hand.
Walk the boardwalk
After a morning of water activities it was time for lunch so we decided to walk the boardwalk which hugs the edge of Daydream and leads you to the other end of the island.
We grabbed a bite to eat at the Boat House Bakery and enjoyed a different water view. Next door to the bakery there’s also the Fishbowl Tavern which was under renovations at the time, but it looks colorful, lively and good spot for a beer, or two.
At this end of the island there’s also the 44ft Outdoor Cinema screen, we didn’t see any movies on our short stay but with the open water as a backdrop I can imagine a movie screening here is a must do.
After lunch had settled the kids sprang to life again and made some friends on the nearby Jungle Jumble Kids Playground.
Meanwhile daddy kicked back on the grass and enjoyed a little time out, whilst mummy enjoyed one of her favourite activities of all time, swinging in the breeze in a hammock.
Next time we visit Daydream we’ve already booked the kids into The Skippers Kids Club program so we can sneak off for a few cold ones at the Tavern, or maybe a bit of pampering at the rejuvenation spa, actually we’ll do both!
Time fly’s when you’re having fun they say and our stay was coming to a close. Our ferry was due to depart late afternoon but we couldn’t leave without some pool time and one last beer in honour of island life.
If you’re not a beach person you’re in luck. There’s several pool areas to choose from on Daydream, one with a swim up bar, but we went with the one with the open air spa overlooking Mermaids Beach.
Some pool time was the perfect way to end an enjoyable 24 hours which we wished could have been turned into 48, and to be honest I can see ourselves returning for a week long stay.
For us Daydream has that good balance between relaxation and activities. We’re not a family that can just lay by a pool for 10 days, we like options and Daydream Island has them.
Besides what we squeezed in during our stay there’s also Tennis, mini golf, beach volleyball and sailing, amongst other things.
And remember, you’re in The Whitsundays.
Nearby Airlie Beach is a fun town in it’s own right with plenty of cafes, bars and the awesome lagoon your kids will love, and did I mention famous Whitehaven Beach is at your fingertips – you must go to Whitehaven!
Day trip or sleep over?
Another option you have is whether you stay or just come over and play.
If you decide to base yourself in Airlie Beach you can jump on the ferry for a day trip over and for a per-person fee make use of the resorts facilities.
Or, you can stay on Daydream Island and choose one of their accommodation packages and maybe wake up to a beautiful sunrise like we did from our balcony.
For dinner we dined at Mermaids Restaurant and if you eat here try for a table outside which overlooks the pool and beach. Breakfast was a buffet at Waterfalls Restaurant and to be honest was a little disappointing for an island resort and just ho hum.
If you stay on the island, you can always do the opposite and day trip it to Airlie. Next time I think we’ll do both and split our time evenly between Airlie and Daydream.
Daydream Island is a 1 hour, 40 minute flight from Brisbane or a 2 hour, 30 minute flight from Sydney.
The Whitsundays are serviced by two domestic airports, Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine. Then Cruise Whitsundays offers transfers to Daydream Island.
Arlie Beach is a 13 hour drive from Brisbane or an 8 hour drive from Cairns.
From Airlie Beach (Port of Airlie) there are 10 ferry connections daily with Cruise Whitsundays.
We visited Daydream Island in partnership with Tourism Queensland.
So what do you think? Is Daydream Island a place you could see yourself enjoying?