This Daydream Island review shows you what to expect from this Whitsunday Island resort for families in Queensland Australia.
Daydream Island Resort has suffered a lot of negative press lately and so we approached our visit with some trepidation.
I’m pleased to report therefore that it exceeded our expectations and I would happily recommend it for a short break in the Whitsundays for families. It’s not a super fancy resort but it has everything you need for a great little family holiday.
International visitors to Australia particularly will love the local wildlife, with the local population of rock wallabies hopping around all day.
That said, there is definitely room for improvement in places. Rooms have recently been refurbished but some of the resort is looking a little tired. I believe that a few small tweaks could make some big improvements in some areas.
All in all though we were blessed with good weather and had a lovely time with good friends here. The room was comfy, the food exceeded expectations, the service was good and staff were friendly.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission – at absolutely no extra cost to you.
Mum on the Move is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
Read on for more details about this Whitsunday Islands resort. You can also see my Instagram highlight here to see a little snapshot of our time here.
Daydream Island Accommodation
Daydream Island has 280 rooms and suites, ranging from the Resort Room to the Serenity and Vista Suites. Each category has options for pool views, garden views, ocean views. Interconnecting rooms are also available.
We opted for a Superior Ocean View Twin room. Here we had two queen beds and direct access to the gardens and out to the pool.
I definitely recommend opting for a ground floor room like this if you are travelling with kids as it makes it super easy to access the pool area, rather than having to walk around the corridors and down the stairs.
The room was spacious enough for the four of us (not that we tend to spend much time in our room apart from showering and sleeping) and had a private terrace area with table and chairs.
The bathroom featured a shower over the bathtub – so versatile for families with kids of different ages. It also had a lounger chair and small coffee table, narrow desk and chair, mini fridge and wardrobe space.
Top Tip: Be sure to keep your terrace/balcony doors closed if you are not around as the cockatoos are always looking for an opportunity to intrude!
Daydream Island Restaurants
The quality of food at Daydream Island happily surpassed expectations. You have a choice of three restaurants:
- Graze – located just off the lobby, this international restaurant is open for breakfast buffet and a la carte dinner. Meals include burgers, schnitzels, curries and salads.
- Inkstone Kitchen – overlooking the pool with ocean views, Inkstone is open for lunch and dinner and offers a modern Australian and European A la Carte Menu. Dishes include wood fired pizzas, seafood and steaks.
- Infinity – located upstairs from Insktone and has floor to ceiling windows looking out to sea (you will need to arrive early for dinner though to make use of them). Infinity offers an Asian inspired menu, with dishes including Nasi Goreng, Massaman Curry, Sweet & Sour Pork and Soft Shell Crab. Open for dinner with a takeaway lunch menu.
Our favourite restaurant was probably Inkstone Kitchen. The food quality was excellent and we loved being able to sit outside for lunches overlooking the pool.
As is the case at many large family resorts, breakfast can be a bit of a scrum, with long queues for the buffer and long waits for barista coffee.
The buffet offers a good selection of hot food and cold items though, with fruit and pastries to pancakes, eggs and more. Barista coffee needs to be ordered and paid for separately in the lobby.
Prices are in line with what you would expect for an island resort. Woodfired pizzas at Inkstone range from $22-34, fish and steak dishes around $35-40 and Asian main courses in Infinity restaurant coming in at around $30-40.
A kids menu with the usual choices of pasta bolognese, chicken nuggets, cheeseburger, fish & chips etc is available at $15 including a soft drink.
Restaurant bookings open 2 weeks prior to arrival and you are recommended to book ahead (you can do this online).
Note that there is no room service on Daydream Island. You can order takeaway pizza and meals from Inskstone Kitchen restaurant to take to your room.
Daydream Island Bars
There are several bars to choose from on Daydream Island, and we tried them all (of course!)
- Tonic Bar – located in the main lobby, open 10am – late. There is a pool table here and afternoon activities such as trivia and other competitions take place here.
- Barefoot Bar – located poolside with a swim-up bar. Open 11am-3pm.
- Lovers Cove Bar – pop up bar on the beach popular for sunset. Serves wine, beer and pre-mix drinks. Sometimes has live acoustic music. Open 3pm-6pm.
- Infinity Bar – another popular sunset spot located outside Infinity restaurant. Open 5pm – 8.30pm.
- Pool Bar – located by the pool at the south end of the island. Specialises in cocktails and has over 20 types of rum. Bizarrely this is the only place on the island you can buy a milkshake. Open 10am-2pm.
We found drinks reasonably priced. Cocktails cost around $18-20, with beers costing $8-10 and wines starting at $8.50.
It’s a shame that the pool bars close at 2pm and 3pm respectively, as you would think this is the time that most holiday makers are getting ready for an afternoon cocktail. But perhaps this is due to lack of staff following the pandemic.
Our two favourite spots for sundowners were Lovers Cove Bar and Infinity Bar. Daydream describes Lover’s Cove as a ‘pop up’ bar. Really it is a staff member with a fridge and esky serving beer, wine or pre-mixes.
There is a decking here with tables and chairs and it is a beautiful spot on the beach in the cove with sunset views, and they have live acoustic music some evenings.
It’s a shame they don’t make more of this though really. Some extra seating, a few beanbags and a more established bar would take it to another level.
Another great place for sundowners is Inkstone Bar, with its views out to sea and over the swimming pool. We loved the friendly staff at this bar too.
Barefoot Bar with its swim up bar and poolside seating is another popular option, for either swim-up drinks or to take a cocktail back to your sun lounger by the pool.
Activities on Daydream Island
First things first, I have to tell you that the beaches on Daydream Island aren’t that great. Unfortunately there are no nice white sand beaches suitable for playing on. In place of soft sand, they are made up of coral and shells.
So if you have little kids who want to run in and out of the ocean, then be sure to pack water shoes.
However, the lack of sandy beaches is made up for by the abundance of swimming pool space. There are pools at both ends of the island and plenty of room for everyone.
There are nooks and crannies for the kids to explore, and a swim-up bar. The only thing missing is a water slide. There are also loads of sun loungers and cabanas and we never had a problem finding a free one, even though we were visiting during school holidays.
For young families, there is a small kids club on Daydream Island open to kids aged 4-12 years old. They offer either a morning or afternoon session. Pricing is $50 per session per child, with discounts available for multiple children.
Activities at the kids club include scavenger hunts, arts & crafts activities, fun games, rainforest walks, amazing race challenges and more. Check the schedule to choose which session will be most suitable for your kids.
Beyond the kids club there are various other family friendly activities organised throughout the day – both paid and free activities. These include kayak tours around the island, hobie cat lessons, cinema under the stars, trivia nights, guided rainforest walks, scavenger hunts and darts competitions.
Also on Daydream Island you will find a tennis court, kids playground and rainforest walk.
The Living Reef is one of Daydream Island’s biggest selling points. This man-made free form coral lagoon is home to over 100 species of local marine life including fish, small sharks, rays and other reef dwelling creatures.
There’s also an Underwater Observatory that is pretty cool. It takes you 4 metres under the surface, where you can marvel at the marine life through its 7 x 3m window. This is definitely a hit with all the kids who come here.
Then there’s the Education Centre, which has 8 living displays showcasing various habitats from mangroves to corals and an interactive touch pool.
I personally don’t see the point of the guided snorkel in the Living Reef, when have the real deal on your doorstep here in the Whitsundays. And at $120 per person, you could do an entire day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef.
Other paid activities around the Living Reef include a Guided Fish Feed, Sting Ray Splash and the Reef Rangers program, where kids shadow a marine biologist to help them feed the sharks and rays and take part in the Morning Show.
The Morning Show is a free information session run by the marine biologists and takes place at 10am every morning.
You can pick up snorkelling gear and stinger suits at Lovers Cove and this is considered to be the best spot for snorkelling on Daydream Island.
At Sunset Beach at the south end of the island is the spot for water activities, and you can hire kayaks, stand up paddle boards and Hobie cats. Jet ski tours are also available four times per day (except Saturday).
Daydream Island Spa
Bizarrely there is no mention of the Daydream Island Spa on their website. I ended up emailing them and getting a spa menu sent to me and I booked via email too.
Once I arrived I discovered that the spa is a bit makeshift also – they have converted two hotel rooms into spa treatment rooms. One of the treatment areas is behind a screen from the check-in area which is a little odd too.
So perhaps it isn’t mentioned on the website as they aren’t really set up properly yet.
Regardless, I tried out both a massage and facial at the spa and the therapists were both excellent. Hopefully the spa will find itself a more permanent home in more relaxing surroundings.
Explore the Whitsunday Islands
Half of the point of being at Daydream Island is to explore the beauty of the Whitsundays.
I highly recommend the Ocean Rafting tour, which takes you snorkelling on the inner reef, visits Hill Inlet Lookout and ends with some chill time on Whitehaven Beach.
Another great option is to head out to the Great Barrier Reef with Cruise Whitsundays. This involves a 2-hour boat ride out to ReefWorld, where you can snorkel, scuba dive, take a ride in a semi-submersible or just kick back and enjoy being out in the middle of the ocean.
Click here for more ideas of things to do in the Whitsundays.
Whitsundays Stinger Season
The Whitsundays stinger season goes through the warmer months from October to May. This is when two species of jellyfish are more prevalent: the Box Jellyfish and the tiny but nasty Irukandji Jellyfish. Trust me, you don’t want to be stung by either.
This doesn’t mean you can’t visit during stinger season, but it is highly recommended that everyone wears a protective stinger suit when swimming in the ocean. Stinger suits are available for Daydream Island guests at Lovers Cove and if you are taking a day trip out to the reef then tour operators will provide them too.
Getting to Daydream Island
Daydream is on an island and so obviously the best way to get here is via boat. The easiest option is the Cruise Whitsundays ferry, which runs several times per day and takes around 30 minutes.
You can take this either from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach. If you are flying to the Whitsundays, the easiest option is to fly to Hamilton Island. The airport is located right next to the ferry terminal, and you check in for the ferry right next to the baggage carousel when you arrive.
If you fly to Airlie Beach (Prosperine Airport) you will need to make the 40-minute journey from the airport to Airlie Beach to get the ferry.
If you are driving to the Whitsundays or arriving by train or bus, then the ferry to Daydream Island from Airlie Beach is the way to go.
Daydream Island FAQs
Accommodation costs at Daydream Island depend on the time of year and availability. Room costs start at around $300 per night. Click here to check the latest prices and availability.
Yes a buffet breakfast at Graze is included in the room price.
Yes there are plenty of options for swimming at Daydream. Lovers Cove is the most popular spot for snorkelling and you can also swim at Coral Beach, Sunset Beach and Mermaid Beach. Additionally there are several swimming pools to choose from.
You can’t really walk all the way around Daydream Island, but you can walk from one end to the other either via the boardwalk or via the rainforest walk. The rainforest walk takes around 20 minutes and gives you views from various lookouts along the way.
I would recommend 3-4 days on Daydream Island. If you are combining it with a trip to Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach or another island in the Whitsundays, then 3 days is probably enough. If you are just staying at Daydream, then maybe 4-5 days with a couple of reef trips would be ideal.
Heading to the Whitsundays? You may also like these posts: