I love the idea of relaxing by the pool with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other, but in reality that’s just not going to happen. If there’s a reef nearby, I’m going to dive it. If there’s a boat heading out to a secret beach, I’m going to hitch a ride. And if there’s a mountain looming overhead, you can bet I’m going to climb it. So in the middle of the night while everyone else on the island was sleeping, I set my alarm for 4:30am and hiked up to Passage Peak – the highest point on Hamilton Island.
It was pitch black when we left, but luckily the trail started just behind Reef View Hotel – which is where we were conveniently staying. We left just after 5am with the intention of reaching the top by around 5:30am – but a quick check of the sign at the trail’s entrance estimated 90 minutes for the 2,650 metre climb. We were clearly behind in schedule, but there was no way we had gone to bed at 10pm on a Saturday night for nothing. Using only the light from our iPhones, we made our way through the first section of the trail in the dark pretty easily. By this time it was getting lighter, so about a third of the way up we decided to run the rest of the way to the top.
Maybe it was the fresh island air, or the fact that it had started raining and we were still powering on – but we got super arrogant with how superior our fitness levels were and mocked the reviews we’d heard about it being a challenging trail. Then we found out what all the fuss was about. The last 200 metres of the trail is an absolute killer. It’s crazy steep and energy should be conserved to tackle it. If it wasn’t for the fact that I could see the sun starting to make an appearance through the clouds I don’t know if I would have made it in time to see the sunrise.
We ended up doing the entire trail in 30 minutes and made it to the top of Passage Peak for an epic sunrise that looked like the heavens had opened up. It was a beautiful spot to take a moment to reflect (and catch our breath) and apparently it’s just as spectacular at sunset. Passage Peak is an incredible vantage point that allows you to see the Whitsundays from multiple sides of the island. With the weather wet and cloudy, we had the added bonus of moody mistiness over the ocean.
We stayed at Reef View Hotel for the weekend as guests of Hamilton Island – it’s the closest hotel to the entrance of the trail and many of the rooms have incredible views over Catseye Beach.
Plan your own mountain climbing adventure and check out the full list of epic trails on Hamilton Island.