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Whitsunday Islands Travel Guide

Whitsunday is a stunning region located on the east coast of Australia, known for its breathtaking natural beauty, crystalline waters, luxury resorts and the Great Barrier Reef.

It encompasses the Whitsunday Islands, which are a group of 74 tropical islands, as well as the coastal towns of Airlie Beach and Proserpine. Whether you’re a beach lover, an adventurer, or a nature enthusiast, the Whitsundays offer a range of activities and experiences to suit every traveller. This guide to the Whitsundays will take you through everything you need to know to plan the trip of a lifetime!

How do you get to the Whitsundays?

Whitsundays Islands by Air

Your best bet for getting to the Whitsunday Islands.

There are two airports – Whitsundays Coast Airport and Hamilton Island Airport

The closest airport to Whitsundays is the Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine Airport – PPP). It is well-connected to major Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane with regular direct flights taking between 1.5-3 hours usually.

Hamilton Island Airport is often referred to as the Great Barrier Reef Airport as it is the access point to the Whitsunday Islands, providing many direct flights to the more remote islands.

When you arrive, you can easily hire a rental car, take a taxi, or use shuttle services to reach your accommodation.

 

Hamilton Island Flight connections Photo from HamiltonIsland.com.au

Whitsundays by Ferry

A great day tour idea is taking a ferry to island hop around some of the most beautiful highlights of the islands. This allows you to spend time at several locations rather than sticking to one island!

Explore the Whitsundays

Great Barrier Reef:

The Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly the main attraction of the Whitsundays and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To make the most of your visit, take a guided snorkelling or scuba diving tour. These tours often include experienced instructors who can introduce you to the best spots for vibrant coral gardens and the marine life that calls this reef home.

Sites such as Get Your Guide and Viator have great options for day trips around the Whitsunday Islands. I really recommend a glass bottom boat tour if you can, you might be lucky and see sea turtles, giant clams or possibly even humpback whales if you visit during the winter months of June – September.

Whitsundays Best Islands:

Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island, the most developed island in the Whitsundays, offers a range of activities, including wildlife encounters at Wild Life Hamilton Island, scenic hikes, and a championship golf course.

Hayman Island

There is a regular ferry service from the Port of Airlie on the mainland over to Hayman Island. It is most famous for the luxury Intercontinental hotel but it is open to the public and is famous for its snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities.

Hook Island

One of the more rugged islands to visit on the Whitsundays, Hook island is sometimes nicknamed “The Aquarium” by locals. Popular diving spots include Mataray Bay, Wrasse Bay, Luncheon Bay and Cockatoo Point.

Must see Beaches of the Whitsundays

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is the main hub for tourists visiting the Whitsunday Islands, and there’s plenty to see and do here. The Airlie Beach Lagoon, a man-made swimming area overlooking the ocean, is perfect for a refreshing dip and relaxation.

Explore the local markets, where you can find unique crafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce. Airlie Beach is also famous for its vibrant nightlife, with a range of bars and restaurants offering live music and entertainment.

Whitehaven Beach

Hill Inlet Whitehaven Beach has been ranked as one of Australia’s best beaches! Known for its natural beauty and white sand, it’s a must-see stop on any tour of the Whitsundays. If relaxing in the water or sunbathing isn’t your ideal day trip, you can explore the area on one of the walking trails and a viewing platform for a bird’s eye view of Hill Inlet.

The most popular route is the hike to Hill Inlet lookout. This 1.3km hike is a moderate walk and will take you around 40 minutes. The track is located on Tongue Point, on Whitsunday Island.

Catseye Beach

The most famous beach on Hamilton Island, Catseye is a perfect spot for relaxing, swimming or enjoying the watersports on offer.

National Parks:

Conway National Park

Nature enthusiasts will love exploring Conway National Park, located just a short distance from Airlie Beach. The park features a network of walking trails that lead you through lush rainforests, offering breathtaking views of the Whitsunday Islands and Coral Sea from various lookout points. The Honeyeater Lookout Trail is a popular, less difficult choice.

Cedar Creek Falls:

Escape the coastal hustle and bustle for a few hours and head to Cedar Creek Falls. This serene waterfall cascades into a natural swimming hole, surrounded by green rainforest. It’s the perfect spot for a dip and a picnic.

Cid Harbour

The harbour is located on Whitsunday Island and can be a great spot to anchor if you have your own boat due to its sheltered nature and proximity to the mainland. However, be cautious that sharks can often be present here – Always follow shark smart advice.

Plan your Whitsunday travel

Places to Eat & Drink on the Whitsundays

Fish D’Vine: Located in Airlie Beach, this restaurant is known for its delicious seafood and extensive wine selection.

Tides Restaurant & Bar: Enjoy modern Australian cuisine with stunning views over the Coral Sea.

Walter’s Lounge: For a more upscale dining experience, head to Walters Lounge.

Coca Chu: This Asian-inspired restaurant at Hamilton Island offers a fusion of Southeast Asian flavours.

Airlie Beach Brewing Company: If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, head to this local brewery offering a selection of delicious brews and a relaxed atmosphere.

Taste Whitsundays Food Tours: Join a guided food tour that showcases the Whitsundays culinary delights, including local seafood, tropical fruits, and artisanal treats. The tours often include visits to farms, markets, and eateries, providing a unique culinary experience.

Accommodation on the Whitsundays

Qualia Resort (Hamilton Island): Luxury accommodation offering stunning views.

Palm Bay Resort (Long Island): For those with sustainability at the top of their priority list.

Coral Sea Resort (Airlie Beach): Enjoy waterfront views and comfortable accommodations at this accommodation.

Airlie Beach Hotel: Located in the heart of Airlie Beach, this hotel offers convenient access to the town’s attractions.

Daydream Island Resort: Situated on Daydream Island, this hotel is perfect for families and couples alike. With a living reef within the resort’s lagoon, you can snorkel alongside colourful fish and marine life without leaving the property. It also offers a variety of activities, including a rainforest walk, an outdoor cinema, and a relaxing spa.

Cruise Whitsundays’ ReefSleep: For a truly unique experience, consider ReefSleep, an overnight adventure on a permanently moored pontoon at Hardy Reef. Sleep under the stars in a swag on the top deck, enjoy gourmet meals, and have the opportunity to snorkel and dive into the reef after the day visitors have departed.

Harbour Cove: Ranked as the best resort on the Whitsundays by Booking.com, this luxury 5-star hotel would be perfect for a romantic getaway or special family holiday.

Whitsunday Apartments: Perfect for a family holiday or if travelling with a larger group, this aparthotel is located only 600m from the stunning swirling waters of Hamilton Island Marina.

Things to Do:

Whitehaven Beach Camping: For a unique experience, camp overnight on Whitehaven Beach.

Scenic Flights: The perfect day tour! Take a scenic flight or helicopter tour over the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands for breathtaking aerial views of the turquoise waters.

Jet Ski Tours: Try a jet ski tour to explore the coastline and nearby islands.

Crocodile Safari: Venture into the Proserpine River on a crocodile safari.

Heart Reef Scenic Flight: Take to the skies on a helicopter or seaplane tour to see the iconic Heart Reef from above. This naturally heart-shaped reef is a symbol of love and is best admired from the air.

Ocean Rafting: Try an ocean rafting tour that takes you to the best snorkelling spots, secluded beaches, and breathtaking viewpoints in the Whitsundays. These high-speed tours offer a thrilling adventure on the water.

Weather in the Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays enjoy a tropical climate with average temperatures of around 25 degrees all year round. Rainy season occurs between January and March when tropical showers are most frequent.

Early spring, around September time, is often recommended as the best time of year to visit the Whitsundays as the weather is consistently more sunny, with lower humidity and perfect swim or diving conditions.

Your Whitsunday Islands Travel Guide

I hope this guide to the Whitsundays has helped give you some ideas for planning your trip.

The Islands of the Whitsundays are one of the most incredible locations in all of Australia and an absolute must visit on a trip down under!

If you have any questions or would like some help with your Whitsunday holiday, feel free to message me on Instagram @AverageJoeDownUnder

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