With a large marina, an airstrip, tons of motorized sports and several high-rise apartment towers, Hamilton Island is the only brazenly commercial spot on the islands. Privately owned, its businesses operate under a lease: development includes a quaint colonial waterfront with bank, post office, bakery, nightclub, a handful of overpriced restaurants (the most affordable being Popeye, for fish and chips), and six hotels that fall under the umbrella of Hamilton Island Resort (Tel:13 73 33, Web:
; Price: $251). The twin towers of Reef View Hotel loom over the east beach complex, and the best view of the whole area is from one of its external glass lifts, which run up to penthouse level. To explore the island, you can rent a motorized dinghy from the marina ($90 per half-day) or a golf buggy from opposite the ferry terminal ($55 for 2 hr) to ride around the residential roads twisting along the northern peninsula. The best option, though, is the well-used walking track to the 239-metre-high Passage Peak which offers the finest 360-degree panorama in the Whitsundays. Fantasea (Tel:07/4946 5111, Web:
) runs a day-trip here for $129 with lunch.