The Whitsunday Islands are one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos, and can excite and inspire just about every visitor. And they do – over half a million travelers visit Whitsunday each year.
Located along the Queensland coast and sandwiched between the renowned Great Barrier Reef (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and Airlie Beach on the mainland, the 74 islands offer a diversity of experiences and attractions to suit a range of budgets. Most of the islands are wholly- or partially-designated national parks, with environments ranging from white-sand beaches to mangrove forests, marshes, rainforests, cliffs, mountains, and bushland.
Many have heard of the Whitsunday’s world-famous Whitehaven Beach (for good reason – the beach is regularly listed among the world’s most beautiful beaches), however the various Whitsunday Islands have so much more to offer:
- Convenience: Stay on the developed, comfortable, and central Hamilton Island, which boasts a variety of accommodation options, quick links to the mainland, easy access to Whitehaven Beach, and the annual Hamilton Island Race Week yacht festival.
- Adventure: Choose from dozens of campsites on a variety of islands to commune with nature and get away from the crowds. Many islands with campsites do not have resorts or other accommodation options! Camping sites are located on Hook Island and Whitsunday Island near Whitehaven Beach, among others. Alternatively, select an island which offers hiking or wilderness trails, such Brampton Island.
- Young and fun: Stay at the affordable Koala Adventure Island Whitsundays Resort on South Molle Island, which boasts night-time entertainment and caters to a young party crowd (guests must be eighteen years old or older).
- Family-friendly: Choose from Daydream Island’s well-appointed resort, Lindeman Island’s Club Med, and Long Island’s Ocean Hotels Long Island Resort, which all offer a variety of facilities and activities for guests as well as supporting services for families.
- Luxurious: Visit Hayman Island’s lavish 5-star resort Hamilton Island Resort (renowned for its wedding facilities and services), or Hamilton Island’s new 6-star hotel qualia.
- Eco-conscious: Stay at Long Island’s Paradise Bay Eco Resort or Peppers Palm Bay (which accommodate just 20 and 42 guests, respectively), to get away from it all and “unplug” from blackberries and cell phones. Paradise Bay can only be reached by boat, helicopter, or seaplane.
- Remote: Stay on the quiet and secluded resort-free Keswick Island. Of the roughly 700,000 annual visitors to the Whitsundays, less than 1,000 make it Kewsick, so you’ll likely have the island to yourself. Alternatively, stay at low-key Hook Island Wilderness Resort, which offers guests a peaceful all-inclusive resort designed as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the “real world.”
- Mature: Opt for an adults-only resort, such as Hamilton Island’s luxurious five-star beachfront resort, Beach Club. The resort caters to couples and honeymooners, and does not allow children.
Visitors to the Whitsundays often snorkel, dive, fish, bushwalk and view wildlife, sail, camp, play golf, or undertake a variety of other land- or water-sports. Resorts offer a multitude of activities to their guests – more than anyone could hope to participate in!
Most visitors use an island accommodation as a launching pad to explore the islands, but don’t forget another tantalizing option: sailing the Whitsundays – covering long stretches of coastline and waters, visiting more islands, and seeing sunrises and sunsets from the comforts of a vessel. Many companies operate private charter operations, or alternatively visitors can join pre-organized cruises or sailing trips, such as catamarans, motor cruisers, or sailing yachts which provide unparalleled access to the reef for snorkeling or diving.
The Whitsundays are easily accessible from the mainland, by airport (Hamilton Island airport connecting to Proserpine Airport on the mainland), or by ferry from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour.