White sand beaches, lush forests, and aquamarine waters, the Whitsunday Islands are a wonderful getaway! Tourists flock here to see the unique beauty and wildlife. These 74 tropical islands lie off the coast of Queensland, Australia next to the Great Barrier Reef and offer a stunning array of natural wonders. Find out exactly what to do in the Whitsundays.
When I was studying in Australia, I took a three day sailing tour around the island, which was unforgettable! It doesn’t get much better than spending the day on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and spending the night drinking on the boat as you watch the sunset. No matter if you want to sail around the islands or spend your time relaxing by the beach, this tropical location will amaze you.
Table of Contents
Guide to the Whitsunday Islands
When to Go
The Whitsundays are beautiful for the majority of a year and you won’t be disappointed by a trip to these beautiful islands. However, most people agree that the month of September is the best time to visit the Whitsundays with lovely temperatures, little rain, and few crowds.
Box Jellyfish are more prevalent in the waters from the months of October through May, so you will have to wear a stinger suit if you swim. If you visit from January through March then you might experience heavier rains, but temperatures are very nice. The winter months (June-August) are heavy sailing seasons and you’ll get a chance to spot humpback whales during their migrations.
How to Get There
Flying: The most popular way for people to get to the Whitsundays is to fly into the Hamilton Island Airport (HTI). You can also fly into the Whitsunday Coast Airport (PPP) and take a ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island. Most flights connect through Brisbane, but you can find direct flights from the other cities including Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns.
Driving: If you want to take a road trip through the country, you can get to Airlie Beach on the Bruce Highway. From Cairns this ride would take around 7 hours and from Brisbane it would take 13 hours. If you want to save money you can take the Greyhound bus over the same route.
How to See the Whitsundays
One of the best ways to see all of the beauty that the Whitsundays offers is to sail around the islands. There are plenty of tours that will take you for day trips, long weekends, or extended trips.
I was able to do a three day tour around the islands and we had an amazing time seeing stunning sights and making new friends. If you don’t want to be stuck on a boat, you can stay at Hamilton Island where you can soak up the sun on the beach or do day trips to the most popular activities.
What to Do in the Whitsundays
If you are a water lover like me, then these islands are the perfect place to go! With 74 islands, there is so much to explore that it’s hard to choose what to do. I’ve tried to list the very best activities to try on your vacation.
Sail Around the Islands
There’s no better way to see the Whitsundays than sailing around the turquoise waters. You’ll get to sleep under the stars, watch the sun go down over the water, and visit remote snorkeling spots. There is a vast range of options from highly luxurious ships to budget friendly group tours. Sailing around the islands is the best way to experience all that the islands have to offer.
Fly over Heart Island
When looking at images of the Great Barrier Reef online you might have come across pictures of a heart shaped reef. That famous reef is located in the heart of the Whitsundays. You can book helicopter or seaplane tours that will take you over this natural phenomena, but it will cost you a good chunk of change. Some of the seaplane tours also include snorkeling along the reef or stops at Whitehaven beach. If you’ve got the time and the money then you should do it.
Visit Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven is easily one of the most famous beaches in Australia. Staring down at the beach from the Hill Inlet you will be awed by the turquoise swirling waters over the glimmering white sand beach.
As one of the most popular spots in the Whitsundays, you’ll be surprised at how remote this spot feels. Spend a day here getting away from the crowds, swimming in the warm waters, and laying on the cool sand.
Relax at a Beach Resort
Traveling to the Whitsundays to get away and relax? Don’t worry there are plenty of beach resorts to choose from on Hamilton Island. These resorts often offer day trips to the main sights, beaches to lounge on, and golf courses to play.
You can really treat yourself during your stay. One of the most luxurious resorts on the island is the qualia, where you can stay in secluded pavilions, get pampered at the spa, and enjoy the stunning water.
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
Swim with Nemo and explore one of earth’s natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef. Most people travel to Cairns to get to the Great Barrier Reef, but at 2300 km long this reef extends far beyond.
There are plenty of ways to access the reef including day tours that leave from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach. Many of the sailing tours will also stop at snorkeling locations throughout the Reef. Make sure to respect the wildlife as you swim among the stunning coral paradise.
Was this guide to the Whitsunday Islands helpful? Let me know in the comments!