The best islands to visit in the Whitsundays

Popular Islands to visit in the Whitsundays

The Whitsundays are your next dream getaway

The Whitsundays are an archipelago of 74 islands that lie between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. It is the world’s biggest outdoor aquarium. The area is classified as one of the seven wonders of the world and must be seen to be believed!

It is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations on the planet and attracts visitors from all over the globe. The Whitsunday islands offer an extensive range of activities, on both land and water. Walking trails in the stunning national parks, snorkelling, sailing, camping, fishing, golf, day trips, helicopter flights, water sports, champagne breakfasts on the beach at sunrise, the list is endless.

Many of the islands are small and uninhabited but are lush with rich rainforests and wildlife. The area along the Whitsunday coast is world heritage listed.

There are 2 commercial airports you can fly into. The first is Hamilton Island and the second is Proserpine which gives you easy access to Airlie Beach. Both locations are starting points for those wishing to visit the surrounding islands.

Queen Marie in Whitsundays

The most popular way to see the Whitsunday Islands

There are many ways you can skip around the islands but one of the most adventurous and economical is to charter a yacht. You can do this without having extensive nautical or sailing knowledge. It is called bareboating and Australia is one of the only places in the world that offer this type of extended boat hire. Bareboating allows you to see the wonders of the Whitsundays under your own steam and in your own time.

The boating industry in the Whitsundays is the lifeblood of the area. It is a sailing town which is set up with boating infrastructure to complement the activity, including luxury marinas, boating suppliers, mechanics, water sport hire companies, etc. Many people hire yachts in far north Queensland for different reasons. Small weddings, couples getaways, fishing holidays, family vacations, reef exploration, or just a good excuse to escape Winter.

Sail away to your dreams

If you are looking to hire a vessel for the purposes of bareboating, the first step is to choose a suitable yacht to accommodate your group. There will be different variations from one boat to the next. Some will have larger decks to relax on, others will vary with kitchen size, single or multiple steerage points, spas, compatible fishing equipment, etc.

You can choose to have provisions already aboard the boat or you may wish to shop for your trip yourself.  On arrival at the marina, there is a comprehensive tutorial given by a boat handler. All questions will be answered and you will receive practical training getting in and out of the marina, how to drop anchor, on board equipment, safety checks, radio communications, basically anything to do with day to day running of the boat.

Whitehaven Beach
Hardy Reef

Whitehaven Beach

This is the largest of the beaches amongst the islands. It is the most popular and for good reason. It stretches over 7 kilometres and has white sand that is 98% silica which means it is exceptionally soft and fine. There is nothing like it on any other beach, anywhere in the world. 

Whitehaven has been voted the worlds’ most eco friendly beach and Queensland’s cleanest beach. It has won several awards from popular travel sites such as TripAdvisor and Australian Traveller. 

At the northern tip of Whitehaven beach is Hill Inlet. The shift in tides, the change in sands and the clarity of the water all make for a stunning display of colour. The best place to witness this is from Tongue Point located above Hill Inlet. This is a fantastic experience any visitors to the Whitsundays should experience.

Hardy Reef

If you are not looking to move too far from your central location at Airlie Beach, Hardy Reef is the place for you. It is home to the popular Reefworld Pontoon and plays host to some spectacular fish including snapper, trevally, coral trout and many other smaller fish.

It is a fantastic area for snorkelling and feeding time sees the resident 2 metre long Queensland groper come out for a look, not to mention the giant Maori Wrasse. This is on the outer reef of the Whitsundays. This means it is a little bit further to get to (maybe 2 hours boat ride from the mainland) but the coral and marine life is more vibrant and abundant.

Hamilton Island

One of the most well known destinations in the Whitsundays. It is the largest island resort in the southern hemisphere and boasts an extensive range of facilities, making it popular with families and couples alike. Island shuttle buses can take you into the village, different beaches, walking trails, the Nature Park and many other activities the island has to offer including of course, the all important water sports.

Daydream Island

One of the most loved islands in the Whitsundays, Daydream has just had a major 86 million dollar upgrade. The island now incorporates a 200 metres long Living Reef, a free form coral reef full of marine life. Thanks to a state of the art underwater observatory, you can see the beauty close up. Those more adventurous can take a personal guided snorkeling tour with one of the Daydream Island’s marine biologists.

Hook Island
Long Island

Hook Island

Incorporating several other little islands, Hook island is known for its spectacular natural surroundings and first class snorkelling and diving sites. Maureen’s Cove and Luncheon Bay are popular with divers and Manta Ray Bay has a magical array of caves, swim throughs and underwater valleys. Perfect for the intrepid marine explorer. This area is the preferred dive and snorkelling destination for the inner reef visitors

Long Island

As a listed national park, this is an island for the eco lovers. With13 kilometres of graded walking tracks, you can venture by foot to a secluded beach, lush bush areas, or picturesque headlands.

Hydeaway Bay

Situated at the top of the Whitsundays, this little hamlet is found in a quiet and secluded spot. It is popular with those wishing to laze the day away with some sunbaking, kayaking, paddle boarding or swimming. It has extensive parklands and BBQ facilities along the beach. There are also two resorts on the island that welcome day visitors or those wishing to stay a little longer.

Heart Reef

This is certainly one of the most visually advertised reefs in the Whitsundays. That is because it is shaped very much like a heart. What a fantastic symbol for those going to the Whitsundays for a romantic getaway!

It is one of the inner fringing reefs in the area. This is where you find the soft corals and perfect nursery like conditions allowing juvenile marine life to thrive. This environment also provides great attraction for other marine life so these fringing reefs are a feast for the eye.

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