Paradise looks very, very different after you’ve had a baby.
My last island holiday went something like this: Days packed tightly with back-to-back activity and entertainment, dashing from bike riding to a luxurious massage, grabbing a quick bite to eat before diving into coral-filled waters for more snorkelling. Cocktails at sunset, overlooking the flickering lights of the town below. Dancing with my girlfriends in too-high heels, with dewy make-up thanks to the humid climate and the pace of our moves. Lazy late morning breakfasts, arriving barely a minute before the hotel transitioned into lunch service.
But my little boy, Rafi doesn’t holiday like that.
He’s five-months-old, wants to be constantly entertained, wakes up before dawn and requires more luggage than a Kardashian. So going away with him for the first time, where the purpose of travelling was relaxation, seemed rather ridiculous. After 20 long weeks of being a mum, I was finally getting the hang of things. I was also emotionally and physically exhausted. While the idea of a holiday with my husband was incredibly alluring, the prospect of taking baby with us was daunting at best and downright terrifying at worst.
Then the fine people at Hamilton Island stepped in and convinced me I could have both. That I could have aspects of the island holidays I’d enjoyed before (which felt so far removed from my current life, they could have been scenes from Game of Thrones) while also travelling with a baby.
I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t really believe them. The thought “Ha, you clearly don’t have children” crossed my mind several times when I was speaking to the organiser on the phone. She was making promises she couldn’t keep, or at least, promises that my little boy would break on her behalf, I decided. But you know what? I owe the lady who booked our trip a mea culpa, an apology and one massive bear hug… Because she delivered on every single promise.
We arrived at the airport on Hamilton Island with a worryingly small number of bags. Travelling with Rafi requires a lot of stuff; travel cot, stroller, baby bath, wipes, spare towels, car seat, lots of ‘just in case’ medical items and approximately 10,000 nappies. Upon instruction from our hosts, however, we’d been told to bring none of this. None. Whatsoever. Our plane landed between towering cliffs and perfect aquamarine water, with my husband looking out the window admiringly and me with a knot in my stomach. You see, nothing compares to the anxiety of a new mother who is away from home with only one spare nappy in her handbag.
I needn’t have worried. We were greeted by the island concierge, who whisked away the luggage we did have and took us straight to our accommodation. Hamilton Island is only 6km long at it’s widest point, so instead of driving cars everyone gets around on golf carts that reach maximum speeds of about 15km an hour. When our family arrived at the villa, we were met with a scene so picturesque and romantic, it would make the set-designers on The Bachelor jealous. Hamilton Island is absolutely stunning, with a lush tropical landscape, colourful Australian birds everywhere and still, clear, perfect water. The villa was light and airy, with four enormous bedrooms (each with their own bathroom) and a seriously cool outdoor space.
But I had eyes only for the baby stuff.
Before the trip, Hamilton Island provided a list of baby items that we might need during our stay and we simply checked off the things we thought we’d need. So when we opened the door to our holiday home we were greeted by boxes of brand new nappies (including the swimmer variety, so baby could go in the pool), wipes and rash cream were stacked neatly in the corner. A tube of Bonjela to soothe angry red gums, a change table and plastic bath sat on the bench. There was a carefully made cot set up in the master bedroom and a pram for us to use for the duration of our stay.