Ahh the Whitsundays… it’s the tropical paradise we all dream about. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Australian city life for a day, then you might consider a Daydream Island day trip.
Daydream Island has been aptly named because it is simply dreamlike. Turquoise waters, white sand beaches, world-class resorts, and good vibes only. That’s what meets you at this stunning destination in Tropical North Queensland.
Daydream Island Resort was just one of the many places we visited in Queensland, but we only had 24 hours to explore the island.
No matter, because the island is so small, you can walk the whole thing in 15 minutes, which makes it the perfect destination for a day trip. And despite its small size, there are plenty of fun things to do on Daydream Island, too.
But how do you go about visiting Daydream Island on a day trip? And what is there to see and do? And what if you want to stay longer? We’ll be answering all of these questions in this guide.
- Where is Daydream Island?
- Is a day trip to Daydream Island enough?
- How To Get To Daydream Island
- Things to Do on Daydream Island
- 1. Catch a Sunset at Lovers Cove, Daydream Island
- 2. Take A Beach Walk and Wildlife Spotting
- 3. Visit Living Reef: Meet Bruce, Pikelet and Pancake
- 4. Go Kayaking at Mermaids Beach
- 5. Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding Daydream Island
- 6. Go Snorkeling at Daydream Island Resort
- 7. Walk the Daydream Island Resort Boardwalk
- 8. Take the Kids to the Playground or Kids Club
- 9. Enjoy Beer O'Clock
- Staying at Daydream Island Resort
- Final Thoughts on A Day Trip to Daydream Island
- More Tropical North Queensland Inspiration
Where is Daydream Island?
Daydream Island is just one of 74 islands in The Whitsundays Islands, which connect to the gorgeous Great Barrier Reef. Daydream Island is one of seven islands of the Molle Island Group.
It’s located in Tropical North Queensland, just a 30-minute ferry ride from the Port of Airlie Beach on the mainland of Australia.
Is a day trip to Daydream Island enough?
If you’re thinking you would like more time than just play for the day on Daydream Island, then it’s possible to stay on the island at one of the beach resorts.
The island is very small and can easily be seen in a day, however, it offers a peaceful, relaxing vibe and a beautiful setting, so many people do decide to stay longer.
If you want to come for the day, it’s a good idea to base yourself in Airlie Beach so you can jump on the ferry for a day trip and be on the island within 30 minutes. This gives you more time to see the island and make use of the resort’s facilities (which you pay for per day).
If you do decide to stay on Daydream Island, you get the advantage of being able to wake up to a beautiful sunrise like we did from our balcony.
How To Get To Daydream Island
There are a few ways you can get to Daydream Island, but the easiest is to get the ferry from Airlie Beach, Queensland. From here it’s a 30-minute ferry ride from Airlie Maritime Terminal over to Daydream Island.
There are 8 sailings per day, and you can view ticket prices and departure times from the Cruise Whitsundays website.
If you’re coming from Brisbane, you would need to fly to one of the two islands in the Whitsundays; Whitsunday Coast Airport, Proserpine, and Great Barrier Reef Airport, Hamilton Island.
From Hamilton Island Marina, it’s a 30-minute ferry to Daydream Island with Cruise Whitsundays. There are two airlines that offer direct flights from Brisbane; Jetstar and Virgin Australia.
Things to Do on Daydream Island
So what can you do on a Daydream Island day trip? Here’s what we got up to.
1. Catch a Sunset at Lovers Cove, Daydream Island
Every good island needs a beautiful sunset and Lovers Cove is a good place to be on Daydream Island.
Instantly I recognized this spot from my friend’s wedding photos as the place they got hitched. What a brilliant setting to say “I do”.
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.
2. Take A Beach Walk and Wildlife Spotting
What I found amazing is you can go to a resort island in Queensland and wake up to the view of kangaroos on the beach and outside your room. Apparently, they were Wallaroos, but who’s judging!
I know Whitsunday Island life is all about relaxing and maybe sleeping in a little, but hey, we were there for 24 hours 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 to the island as early as possible and meet the friendly and photogenic wallaroos down by Mermaids Beach.
Afterward, take a short stroll along the water’s edge (just don’t expect powdery white soft sand like nearby Whitehaven Beach) and claim your sun lounge for the day.
How’s that for a start to your day with your own private beach? Something to daydream about for sure!
3. Visit Living Reef: Meet Bruce, Pikelet and Pancake
If you’re visiting Daydream Island with kids, and even if you’re not, one of the exciting attractions by Daydream Island Resort is the interactive Living Reef educational experience.
Living Reef is one of the world’s largest man-made living reef’ coral lagoons and Kalyra and Savannah loved the opportunity to get up close and personal with some friends from the ocean world.
It was like a miniature Great Barrier Reef and was full of vibrant corals and sea creatures, such as sea cucumbers, rays and starfish.
We met Bruce the sicklefin lemon shark, held a starfish, and got to feed the resident stingrays – Pikelet and Pancake.
But the highlight moment was watching Caz feed the barramundi. Have you ever hand-fed barra before?
Be ready, they are like lightning taking the food out of your fingers.
It was so great seeing our kid’s faces light up with this hands-on experience and to be able to learn about marine life in a safe environment.
Daydream Island Resort puts on free educational live fish feeding show 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.
Time to channel your inner marine biologist.
Reef Exploration Center and Underwater Obseratory
Next to the Living Reef is the Reef Exploration Center, which is kind of like the museum to the experience. Here you can learn more about the reef and see interactive exhibits.
Also at the Living Reef is The Underwater Observatory, which takes you downstairs to view under the tank.
This is the best place to see the marine life swimming happily in their tanks. There’s also free yoga sessions here every day.
4. Go Kayaking at Mermaids Beach
Our kids are like most kids, they love the water, as we do. Any chance we get to get out there we’re up for it. It was time for some physical activity and the first stop was taking the kayaks for a spin.
Little Savannah sat with me as we went paddling just offshore and she got to enjoy some lovely views out over The Whitsundays Islands and I got some much-needed exercise.
Apologies for the pixelated mobile phone pics mixed in here, but you get the picture.
Caz and Kalyra joined us in another kayak for a family paddle and it was a lovely way to start the morning activities.
You can rent kayaks from Daydream Island Resort.
5. Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding Daydream Island
I love stand-up paddleboarding, and that’s all because of Daydream Island. It was the first time for Caz and now we’re 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.
6. Go Snorkeling at Daydream Island Resort
Next up is 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 by kayak and play support crew. In hindsight, it was a little too far for Kalyra and we didn’t make the return journey, instead we stayed 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.
7. Walk the Daydream Island Resort Boardwalk
After a morning of water activities, you might want to rest your legs on dry land for a bit. We decided to walk the boardwalk which hugs the edge of Daydream Island Resort 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.
At this end of the boardwalk, 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.
8. Take the Kids to the Playground or Kids Club
After lunch, the kids sprang to life again and made some friends at 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 Island Resort, we”re booking the kids into The Skippers Kids Club program so we can sneak off for a few cold ones at the Tavern, or the poolside bar, or maybe a bit of pampering at the rejuvenation spa, actually we’ll do both!
9. Enjoy Beer O’Clock
Time flies when you’re having fun they say and just before you head home, it’s time to enjoy a refreshing beer.
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.
You can find decent cocktails and cool beer from Inkstone Kitchen & Bar or from the Marina Tavern. This is also a great place to pick up some snacks or afternoon tea.
Staying at Daydream Island Resort
If you’re thinking a Daydream Island day trip isn’t enough and you want to stay longer, then you should opt to stay at the island’s world-class resort, Daydream Island Resort.
After the devastation of Cyclone Debbie in 2018, there has been extensive redevelopment of Daydream Island Resort and it’s super swanky (not that it wasn’t before).
Daydream Island Resort is the only resort on the island, and offers 277 refurbished modern rooms and suites with state-of-the-art amenities. Each room has its own en suite and the choice of interconnecting rooms for families and special access rooms.
There is an expanded food and beverage offering across the island with three restaurants and three bars including an exciting new Asian Fusion restaurant that joins the buffet and modern Australian restaurants.
If you’re travelling with kids, they will love watching movies at the resort’s open-air cinema, or taking a dip into one of the several outdoor pools.
One pool comes with a swim-up pool bar, but we went with the one with the open-air spa overlooking Mermaids Beach.
The resort also offers Tennis courts, mini golf, beach volleyball, and sailing, and a gym.
The resort connects to Daydream’s rainforest walk and also offers tours and watersports rentals, including kayak rental, paddle board rental, ocean rafting experiences, and more.
Final Thoughts on A Day Trip to Daydream Island
Daydream Island was quite simply, a dream. It has beautiful scenery and gorgeous waters. If you’re only visiting for a day, you will find there are plenty of things to keep you busy.
But if you do have the chance to stay for the night, there is something special about waking up to the sunrise over a low tide, and sipping your morning coffee from your own private balcony while you lookout at the views.
And remember, you’re in The Whitsundays. You can simply island hop between the islands for the day.
Nearby Airlie Beach is a fun town in its 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?
Yes, you can see Daydream Island on a day trip, but you should stay in the area for a while.
More Tropical North Queensland Inspiration
Are you planning to visit other parts of the Tropical North? Then you might find these resources helpful…
So what do you think? Is Daydream Island a place you could see yourself enjoying? Are you still up for a Daydream Island day trip? Let us know in the comments.