Surrounded by the pristine blue-green waters of the Great Barrier Reef, we soak up the warmth of the glorious Queensland sun and fight the urge to dive headfirst into the sparkling waters of the swimming pool that beckons us from the moment we arrive at Daydream Island.
We are welcomed with coral necklaces and ushered into the reception lobby with the other groups disembarking from the ferry for a quick run-down of how things work at Daydream Island Resort and Spa. My kids are fascinated by the colourful décor of the resort, especially the huge decorative fish that hang from the ceiling of the atrium.
My four-year-old son is bursting with excitement as we enter our room, equipped with satellite TV and Playstation video games, but that isn’t what’s got him so worked up. “Can we see Nemo mummy?” he asks. So, off we go to the Living Reef, where a wide array of brightly coloured fish, sharks and stingrays call this open air aquarium - one of the worlds largest - home.
There are also other options for kids (and adults) interested in different marine creatures – like the Stingray Splash, where you can actually come up close and personal with de-barbed stingrays and hand feed sharks.
Not quite ready for the sharks, we tackle hand-feeding of a different kind – wild fish that swim directly from the fringing coral reef to a small bay called Lovers Cove. As we venture into the shallow waters, hungry, colourful fish scatter here and there, snapping up the fish pellets we throw them.
Soon, it is time for us to feed ourselves and the themed buffet at Waterfalls Restaurant is just what the doctor ordered for two tired and hungry munchkins. The Pizza and Pasta night is a big hit with my little ones. My son is particularly amazed by the variety of food and spends quite a bit of time mesmerised by the spread, unable to choose what he wants to eat.
The following day, we explore the island’s three swimming pools – one on the north side of the island, where all guest rooms are located, and two on the south side. The pool on the north side has a walk-up bar, called Splashes, and my kids enjoy their first fruit cocktail.
We then take our swimming expedition to the south side of the island, which in itself is a mini-activity, where you have the option of walking the 10-15 minute coastal path or taking a ride aboard a golf buggy à la Hamilton Island.
My kids enjoy splashing about in the two pools and are ravenous by the end of it. Following a lunch of sandwiches at the Boat House, we fall asleep in the hammocks so aptly placed on the water’s edge while our children nap in their prams.
We decide to spend the rest of the day on the south side of the island, with plenty of other activities to be enjoyed, including a traditional playground, tennis and Mini Golf. The latter is a big hit with our children as they tackle the 19-hole themed course reflecting the main attractions of Australia. My toddler daughter has fun shouting “in the hole” even though she didn’t manage to actually make contact with the ball.
Next to the Mini Golf is the outdoor cinema and on certain nights, there are screenings of new release movies. After dinner at the Fishbowl Tavern, which is a bistro-style a la carte restaurant, we take the kids to their first outdoor movie but it doesn’t take very long for tiredness to win out and they succumb to sleep in their strollers. Leaving mum and dad thankful for the lack of the third-degree that always eventuates when our son watches a movie with us.
The following day, a rainforest walk sees us encountering a wallaby and several other reptiles. We see many different types of birds too, especially cockatoos - Daydream Island’s response to sea gulls. As advised, we do not feed them and ensure we do not leave food out in the balcony.
We also visit Mermaids Beach to show our kids the statue of the three mermaids and this turns into a great photo opportunity as they pose and play with all the coral on the beach.
We keep with the theme of mermaids and dine at Mermaids Restaurant, where the kids menu keeps our little ones happy.
We choose lots of other scheduled and age-appropriate activities for the rest of our time there - like Wii dances, treasure hunts, yoga and beach volleyball. I also notice that there are plenty of other opportunities to be enjoyed, like snorkelling, scuba diving, waterskiing, parasailing and a ride on the ‘Banana Boat’ – a banana shaped boat that bounces and splashes behind a speedboat.
An on-island Kids Club means grown-ups can also indulge in some heavenly treatments at the Rejuvenation Spa or participate in activities that are bit too challenging for the little ones. Whether it is a blissful massage and body treatment or an off island boating adventure with romantic stops along the way, you can schedule in some time for yourselves.
Daydream Island is a must-see for families with young children. In fact, we had such a good time that the small, 1km island stretch nestled close to Hamilton Island, is on our list of must-return-to-see holiday spots.
To find out more about the island and book your holiday, head to Daydream Island Resort and Spa.