Solway Lass Tall Ship | Whitsundays sailing

Sail Away: The best boat for your perfect Whitsundays sailing experience

Cruise off into the horizon aboard your own sailboat in Queensland’s nautical playground, the Whitsundays. One of the best sailing destinations in the world, this paradise is best enjoyed by sea.

Whether you’re looking to leave it all behind and recharge on a remote beach, chasing the best snorkelling spots, or simply keen to see the islands from a whole new perspective, there’s a Whitsundays sailing experience  – and a perfect boat  – for you.

New to sailing? This guide to having a perfect Whitsundays sailing experience has you covered.

The Derwent Hunter – The classic sailing experience

A majestic classic timber tall ship that dates back to 1946, The Derwent Hunter is the last Australian vessel built to work by sail – step aboard and step back in time.

Soak up the sun as you spend the day cruising on the 22-metre long vessel, stop off at a private mooring at the northern Whitsunday Island reef, and snorkel on colourful fringing corals.

The Derwent has an on-board marine biologist and master reef guide on hand to share their knowledge. You’ll come face to face with marine life, including turtles and regular whale sightings in the cooler months, and disembark with a whole new respect for the ocean and reef.

Get swept up in the romance and adventure of bygone times – guests are invited to help hoist the sails and even help steer the ship.

Tours depart daily from Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach.

Summertime – The adventure boat

A charming restored timber ketch, handcrafted in 1945, Summertime comes ready for a Whitsundays sailing adventure.

With a crew on deck taking care of the sailing, you can spend your days exploring the islands and inlets of the Whitsundays, kayaking, bushwalking, snorkelling and exploring. Once you’ve had your fill of sun for the day, unwind in the on-board jacuzzi.

Summertime can sleep up to 19 passengers, is fully air conditioned, and comes with kayaks, and snorkelling equipment and tuition.

Summertime can be hired through Whitsunday Sailing Adventures.

Nautitech Open 40 – The celebration sail

Ideal for special occasions or simply celebrating the beauty around you, the Nautitech Open 40 is a unique open concept catamaran with a layout that’s ideal for entertaining,  with a large galley, four cabins and space for up to 10 guests.

This self-manned bareboat charter lets you explore the Whitsundays at your own pace. New to bareboating? Our guide to bareboating the Whitsundays has your back.

You can hire the Nautitech Open 40 from Whitsunday Escape.

Aquila Sunrise – The luxury catamaran

Leave your worries on the mainland and enjoy a touch of luxury on the Aquila Sunrise. This high powered catamaran will see you cruising around the islands in style and comfort, with three large cabins and a huge lounge and galley, ideal for entertaining.

A bareboat style yacht, the Aquila is self manned, so you can take to the seas at your own pace and explore at leisure.

The Aquila can be hired through Cumberland Charter Yachts, and arrival or departure can be arranged from Hamilton Island or Daydream Island.

Solway Lass – The leisurely tour

Solway Lass tall ship | whitsundays sailing

Photo by @mathmet

Beautifully preserved tall ship Solway Lass is a rare sight on the horizon, with 11 billowing sails and an expansive deck.

A two-day trip aboard Solway Lass will see you visit world famous Whitehaven Beach where you can track down for Aboriginal artwork on a guided bushwalk with an eco certified tour, or swim and snorkel the day away.

Solway is manned by a skipper and crew, so when you’re back on deck all that’s left to do is relax in air conditioned guest cabins or the saloon. A rope swing, glass-bottom boat, and stand-up paddleboards add to the adventure.

Sundowner Sunset Cruises – The sunset sail

Catching the sunset is an essential Whitsundays sailing experience, and the Sundowner is the boat to make it a reality.

The Sundowner is a large barge-style catamaran, with 360 degree views over the water. Offering nightly sunset cruises, you’ll watch twilight fall over Airlie Beach and spot a turtle or two in Turtle Bay.

Available for private hire, the Sundowner is perfect for events and celebrations.

Sundowner departs from Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach.

Providence V – The day tripper

A classic 62-foot gaff-rigged schooner built in North Queensland in 1992, Providence V is considered a ‘baby’ tall ship, and offers relaxed day trips around the Whitsundays.

Catch the beauty above and below the water as you snorkel, swim and sail, exploring the colourful reefs off Dumbell Island and visiting Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout. Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are provided.

Providence V departs from Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach.

Reefstar Cruises – The family charter

The whole family are welcome on this large wave piercer catamaran – the Reefstar prides itself on a stable hull with full-on comfort. While the Reefstar can take up to 250 passengers, numbers are capped at 90, allowing plenty of space for prams and a fast and slow lane.

The tour makes three stops per day and is the only vessel that also operates a custom-built glass-bottom boat experience. Enjoy snorkelling, bushwalks and the beauty of Whitehaven Beach.

Lady Enid – The romantic day cruise

Step aboard the Lady Enid and be transported to a time of style and elegance.

First launched in 1961, Lady Enid is one of the country’s swiftest sailboats, having sailed in five Sydney to Hobart and 15 Brisbane to Gladstone races. The 74-foot timber boat (named after the beautiful wife of the original builder) sealed her place in Australia’s history when she crossed first in the Sydney to Brisbane yacht race in 1964.

Today, the ship can cater to 24 adults (strictly no children) and offers a full day luxury sail to Whitehaven Beach, with swimming, snorkelling the reefs, and a visit to Hill Inlet, and three crew members at your service and gourmet meals provided.

Lady Enid departs from Coral Sea Marina in Airlie Beach.

Looking to stay a while? There’s a family friendly Whitsunday sailing experience to suit your trip.