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Visiting the Whitsunday Islands: What to do?

scenic flight great barrier reef close to airlie beach

The Whitsundays, an archipelago of 74 islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, are THE dream destination in Australia. Located off the central coast of Queensland, these islands offer a postcard-perfect setting. With immaculate white beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, they lack nothing.

If you’re on a road trip along the east coast or saving up to discover the beauty of the Whitsundays, we have plenty of great tips for you!

This article is designed to provide you with all the essential information. What is the best time to visit the Whitsundays? What activities can you do? What services are included in the tours we offer? We’ll cover all these aspects to help you plan your adventure optimally.

The Whitsundays: A jewel of nature

Why visit the Whitsundays?

Shades of blue

The Whitsundays are renowned for their “extraordinary” landscapes. Turquoise, cyan, South Sea blue, Tiffany blue, teal. There are so many shades of blue in one place. The sea becomes a true palette of colors. It’s impossible not to be amazed by such a view. The contrast is even more striking with the pristine white sand, made of 98% pure silica, of Whitehaven Beach. Is this what paradise looks like?

Proximity to the Great Barrier Reef

The archipelago offers privileged access to the Great Barrier Reef. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this vast coral system is the largest in the world. It is home to exceptional biodiversity: thousands of species of fish, hundreds of types of corals, and a multitude of other marine life forms (including venerable sea turtles, sharks, and manta rays).

Today, the Great Barrier Reef is a global symbol of the beauty and fragility of our marine environment. Its ecological, historical, and symbolic importance is crucial for the entire world (WWF).

How to get to the Whitsundays?

Departing from Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach, a small coastal town on the mainland, is the main gateway to the Whitsundays. This town is a popular destination for vacationers.

It offers a variety of accommodations for all budgets. You’ll find friendly hostels and luxurious resorts for those seeking comfort.

The town has no shortage of dining options, with a multitude of lively restaurants, cafés, and bars.

How to reach Airlie Beach?

There are several options to reach Airlie Beach.

Proserpine Airport (Whitsunday Coast Airport – PPP) is about a 40-minute drive from Airlie. It offers regular flights from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.

Alternatively, Hamilton Island Airport also offers direct flights from several major Australian cities. It is located on one of the main islands of the Whitsundays. Ferry and boat transfer services are available from Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach and other islands in the archipelago.

For those traveling by bus, check out what Greyhound has to offer.

What is the best time to visit the Whitsundays?

The best time to visit the Whitsundays is from June to October. During these months, the subtropical climate offers moderate temperatures, ranging between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius. There is also less rainfall compared to the wet season from November to April.

Conditions are also ideal for diving and snorkeling. The waters are calmer and clearer, offering perfect visibility to explore the coral reefs.

Lastly, from June to September, the Whitsundays become a prime location for spotting migrating humpback whales. They come to the warm waters to give birth and raise their young.

Experience the Whitsundays: Our must-do excursions

To discover the Whitsundays, we have selected a variety of excursions suitable for all types of travelers and lengths of stay. Whether you have a day, a weekend, or several days to explore this spectacular destination, with family or friends, we have the ideal activity for you.

Important: Keep in mind that such an experience may only come once in your lifetime!

1) Multi-day cruises

For 18-35 year olds: Two-day, one night cruise

The Two-Day, One-Night Whitsundays Cruise is specially designed for young adventurers aged 18 to 35. Onboard a spacious sailing ship accommodating up to 23 passengers, you’ll discover the jewels of the Whitsundays.

Iconic sites such as Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet are on the itinerary, offering breathtaking panoramas (get your cameras ready!). For admiring the coral reefs and colorful marine life, masks, snorkels, and wetsuits are at your disposal. Keep an eye out! Turtles, sharks, rays, and clownfish are not far away.

All meals are freshly prepared onboard, including sunset snacks and a refreshing drink before dinner. Finally, enjoy the dynamic and friendly group atmosphere, where youth and energy are celebrated.

For more comfort: Two-day, two-night cruise

Opt for our Two-Day, Two-Night Whitsundays Cruise if you’re looking for an intimate and relaxing experience, even a private cabin escape. With only 12 passengers onboard, this cruise is ideal for those who prefer tranquility.

We take you to the must-see sites of the Whitsundays, including the stunning Whitehaven Beach and the famous Hill Inlet. Snorkeling sessions at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef are also included. Enjoy a paddleboarding session on the crystal-clear waters! Finally, relax with refreshments while admiring the beautiful sunset scenery.

All meals are freshly prepared onboard. The crew ensures that your experience is as memorable as possible!

2) One-Day excursions in the Whitsundays

For travelers with less time, we offer options suited to shorter stays in the Whitsundays.

Hop onboard the Ocean Rafting. Hold on tight as the boat cuts through the waves, and enjoy the stunning views of the islands and hidden coves of this archipelago. 

You’ll also discover the spectacular underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef during our snorkeling trip. Don’t worry! Our guides are with you to provide personalized instructions.

The Whitsundays’ must-see spots, including Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, are also on the itinerary.

3) Sea and air: Cruise and scenic flight package

For the ultimate experience combining sea and air, our Cruise and Scenic Flight Package is the ideal option.

Start your day with the scenic flight. You’ll board a little plane. You can admire the scenery and turquoise waters from the window, especially the famous “Heart Reef,” which has become an icon of the region.

After a morning of discoveries, you will do a cruise through the Whitsundays, where you can snorkel and swim in crystal-clear waters. You can admire the scenery and turquoise waters from the window, especially the famous “Heart Reef,” which has become an icon of the region.

4) Day Activities

Aerial views: Scenic Flights

The postcards of paradise beaches and tropical islands lined with palm trees are often taken from the sky, and it’s no coincidence. Who hasn’t seen that stunning photo of the Whitsundays or the Great Barrier Reef from a seaplane window, shared by a friend in Australia on Instagram?

Our One-Hour Scenic Flight over the Whitsundays and Heart Reef lets you do the same! With comfortable seats and guaranteed views from panoramic windows, you’ll be amazed. As a bonus, our pilots provide live commentary to help you understand the region’s geology and ecology.

For thrill-seekers: Skydiving

Finally, Skydiving at Airlie Beach is for the daredevils among you!

Imagine free-falling from up to 15,000 feet above the beautiful Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands. Supervised by experienced instructors and equipped with high-quality safety gear, this skydive guarantees memorable memories. Plus, you’ll leave with photos and videos of your achievement!

For more details and to book your experience, check out the links to our activities. We look forward to welcoming you for an unforgettable experience in the Whitsundays!

Article written by Manon from Goldenturtles.fr