Here’s everything you need to know about your Whitsundays holiday
A Whitsundays holiday issomething you might plan for months, perhaps even years, but your soul is never truly prepared until it arrives. The golden child of Queensland’s coastline, there’s no more diverse offering of holiday experiences than that of the Whitsunday Islands.
Whether you’re starting out at Airlie Beach and island-hopping your days away, backpacking your way around the state’s most coveted destinations, or visiting Australia’s best beach, there’s no better way to reacquaint yourself with Mother Nature. From soul-searching to turtle spotting, and every dining experience in between, this is your guide to the Whitsundays holiday you’ve been daydreaming about.
A little extra motivation
With no shortage of attractions, a Whitsundays holiday is famous for many things, but appreciated for so many more. One browse of any search engine will have you scrolling through kilometres of coral reef to explore, and bay hopping between secluded island beaches. It’s no surprise people are drawn to the area with little travellers’ gems like Heart Reef, best accessed by helicopter or sea plane for added adventure.
Or Whitehaven Beach, famous for its 7km of unique silica sands and glassy tropical waters. An experience for each of your senses, this quartz-based sand doesn’t retain heat easily, making every step a comfortable connection with the beach (and unlike many stretches of sand you’ve hot-stepped across before). Still completely uninhabited, the beauty of Whitehaven is its seclusion from civilisation. It’s accessed by boat or many half or full day tours with Cruise Whitsundays. Rest awhile by the shore as little fish bump against your ankles and the waft of your barbeque lunch is prepared on the sands behind you.
Have your breath taken completely away by accommodation like qualia, Hamilton Island’s crowning jewel, and Luxury Lodge of Australia, which has taken out countless titles for Australian Traveller People’s Choice Awards (Best luxury hotel/resort/lodge and Boutique Hotel Winner) along with HM Awards for Best Resort, and Best Australian Lodge. Just to name a few.
If you prefer to be one with the ocean, book a week’s accommodation on a bareboat and bob from island to island, resting your head for a few evenings at Hamilton Island Marina, where you have access to all the island facilities and your down time is whatever you make of it.
There’s no bad time for a Whitsundays holiday
But if you prefer a slightly milder climate (let’s not forget we’re in tropical Queensland) that ensures you make the most of hikes, stinger-free swims and cloudless night skies, then the coolers winter months make for a perfect Whitsundays holiday getaway. If you’re a budding sailor or joining someone who is, look to travel around September for peak season.
The average temperatures in the Whitsundays sit around 22-30°C (71-86°F), making it shorts, shirts or dresses season for most of the year.
Whenever you choose to join the Whitsundays, its appeal isn’t limited by the seasons.
Where to start planning your to-do list
When you’re visiting somewhere with 74 islands to explore, there are plenty of activities to tick off during your stay, and your days can quickly become packed with adventure.
But like anything good brewing on your horizon, the islands are best enjoyed sitting and steeping awhile, so if you want to be sure to fit the first-time essentials in, we’d recommend planning your trip based on this highlight reel of Whitsunday holidays experiences.
If this isn’t your first Barrier Reef rodeo, you’ll be well acquainted with the Whitsundays holiday features and be looking to ground yourself in some new, exciting and rewarding experiences. You don’t have to look far for ways to sink your feet a little deeper into the Whitsundays, with plenty of experiences left waiting to uncover that don’t always make the ‘must-do’ list for first timers.
Get to know the islands like a local and discover these secret beaches that have so much more to add to their famous silica sanded sister.
Be sure to pack your appetite
Whether you have a taste for classic Queensland pub grub, or fine seafood and signature dishes are more your flavour, there are plenty of ways to explore the Whitsundays region one dining experience at a time.
Start by working your way around these 13 restaurants in and around the mainland, Airlie Beach. What makes the food so significant in this region is that the ingredients are sourced as locally as they’re cooked. With one of the largest winter growing regions in Australia, Airlie’s food industry is nearly as large as its tourism offering. Bowen mangoes might take the prize for most well-known (see: ‘big’ mango), the region extends much further, with places like Lake Proserpine being one of the largest barramundi impoundments in the world, and well worth a visit.
Coffee lovers can also drink to the fact that the Whitsundays is home to Australia’s largest coffee plantation – Whitsundays Gold – with tours offering an insight into the whole process, from bean to roast and grind.
Put your feet up and rest your head
Choosing to enjoy a Whitsundays holiday is easy, but deciding where to stay amidst so many unique offerings is trickier. If you can envision yourself becoming one with a hammock, taking long walks by the water or retreating to your own secluded hideaway, then one of these paradise island resorts is the perfect place to start.
Pushed for time but want to experience everything the mainland has on offer? You can work your way through this guide to be sure you’re making the most of your stay.
If you’re influenced by variety and want the best of both worlds, you can captain your own holiday adventure by bareboating the Whitsundays. With no boat licence necessary and calm tranquil waters to explore, your sailing adventure is as simple as choosing the right boat for you and your dearest.
And of course, if your budget is strapped to oysters and jet ski adventures, there’s something to suit every kind of Whitsunday holiday adventure. These slightly more frugal options are accessible to most backpacking budgets.
Day trips to keep your holiday busy and your body relaxed
With unlimited options and limited days, it’s best to plan which trips you’d like to do ahead of time. This can also help guarantee the more popular favourites aren’t booked out by the time you get to them.
Make a day of Airlie Beach’s main drag and take in everything the vibrant nightlife has on offer soon as the sun sets.
Or simply jump on a Cruise Whitsundays ferry and make your way to Hamilton Island or Daydream Island to spend the day sipping drinks by the water and watching green sea turtles bob their head above the surface.
Explore the local land
Dig your feet deep into your walking boots and hike lightly through natural habitats. There’s plenty on offer if you’re itching to swap sea breezes for national parks during your Whitsundays holiday.
Spend some time getting to know the land and find perfect balance with a trip to Proserpine and Conway National Park. Feel the glow of the tropical sun through tree branches and meditate your way through hiking tracks, balmy tropical climates and get familiar with local wildlife.
Venture north and connect with locals at famous gems like Bowen. Only an hour from Airlie Beach, this rural favourite has eight beaches to explore, and reefs to snorkel within walking distance of the shoreline (on low tide). It’s a great chance to meet the little local fish species without the day trip from Airlie to the Great Barrier Reef (a much more accessible option for families).