Let's be realistic, Great Barrier Reef won't be there forever, this should be a solid enough reason for you to be there ASAP.
Before You get there:
Make sure you bring sunscreen, it is always sunny and hot on the island. I did a full day snorkelling without a wetsuit or sunscreen on, guess what? I became a tomato with two eyes, and it's fucking painful! However, if you forgot sunscreen, the island is considerate enough to put sunscreen at some accessible public spots for you to use.
Outfit. Well, you are all fashion gurus, just make sure you wear comfy enough for leisure. However, there are a few tracks or hikes that you could keep yourself adventurous and active. Bring a pair of waterproof hiking boots or just a pair of trainer would be handy.
Equipment . If you have snorkelled before, bring your gears with you. If you are a first-time snorkeller like me, you can rent or buys gears on the island. Some hotels provide free gears for you to rent while you stay there.
It takes about 2 hours to fly over to Hamilton Island, and there are quite a few direct flights that take off from Sydney. Make sure you do some research, it might be smart for you to book your flight early since it is really busy during peak months. Another tip, book your seat next to the window and prepare to be wowed for the last 45 minutes of your flight. (Hmmmm, a good pair of noise cancelling earphone will be necessary since there will be a lot of kids on board...If you know what I mean...)
Also, there is a one-hour time difference between Sydney and Hamilton Island since there is no Day Light Saving in QLD. But one hour doesn't really make any difference since you won't care much about the time when you are in paradise.
Book your hotel
There are quite a few options on the island, I stayed at the Reef View Hotel( Well, the name says it all) There are also a lot of perks that come with the hotels on the island, make sure you check what type of room are you booking, and what comes with your room. My room was on the 17th floor and comes with free breakfasts, and basically, all the equipment that you need for the outdoor activities.
It takes about 2 1/2 hours to get to the spot, and being able to swim is essential for this activity. It is definitely the highlight of my whole trip. You would enjoy it even if you are not a Finding Nemo fan.
I was not good at snorkelling when I first started, but it is actually not very hard to manage once you practise about 15 mins. I failed in Sydney before somehow, but I guess the water is so clear in Great Barrier Reef, so your inner fear of the unknown deep ocean would disappear. The instructors are very professional and experienced, they made the first snorkelling spot very easy to manage. In fact, I wish I would have been more adventurous and tried the scuba diving as well.
It is a full day experience and you can book from @experiencehamiltonisland . Make sure you aware your surroundings and try your best to not do anything harmful to the reefs. Do not touch or step on them, Not only for the sake of heavy fines, you don't want Nemo and Dory to be homeless after all right?
There are also some activities like seaplane ride or cruise to Whitsundays, I wish I could have stayed longer on the island to experience all the amazing spots, meanwhile I also want to take advantage of the fact that it is an island, hence I don't have to worry about anything stressful.A day of lying down beside the pool or sipping cocktails at the beach isn't something that you could have every day unless you appear in the Real House Wives in Sydney.
One odd thing was, one of the few going out places on the island has a dress code. But I will forgive Garden Bar since the 90s hip hop vibe was lit(Is it how cool kids talk these days?)
If you want to have a nice meal, make sure you book your spot, 20 mins of waiting are just casual on the island unless you want to have an early dinner and take away pizza.
Hiring a buggy and explore the area. The island is not overly populated and a lot of people tend to stay at the pool. However, it is very fun to hire and buggy and explore the unknown.You also cannot be bothered to walk under the poisonous sun ray for hours right?
Final tips(Snob alert)
Bring you own coffee if you are picky about it, this might be my only problem when I stayed on the island. There is a bakery that I haven't tried, make sure you check it out when you are here, maybe they could serve some better coffee? But please be aware that I suggest people bring their own coffee everywhere, so...
Bring your action cameras and batteries. Sea creatures encounters could be unpredictable, make sure you keep your action camera on if you don't want to miss the shot of Nemo(I don't like Dory, so who cares).
Also, if I would go back next time, I will make sure I spend at least 5 days on the island, more time to chill, and more time to explore, life is about the balance right? Make sure you do the same, the more days the merrier.