OH MY GOD the Whitsundays have the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. Australia’s Whitsundays are made up of 79 islands, just off the coast of Queensland and in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a world famous honeymoon destination but also perfect for a relaxing friends getaway. This Whitsundays travel guide shares tips on how to explore the islands, Whitehaven beach, and more on any budget!
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You can stay on Hamilton Island, the most popular place to stay with a luxe resort and crystal clear waters, or explore it by boat. We opted to stay on a catamaran and sail around. I HIGHLY recommend adding this to your Aussie bucket list because it has the most stunning beaches you’ll find — yes, I’ll say it — in the world.
Whatever way you choose to explore it, you really can’t go wrong. There are options for everyone — from budget travelers to luxury hotelers. Since Queensland is north of NSW & closer to the equator, you’ll find a more tropical climate with warmer and more humid weather. The best time to visit is early or late summer (October-November or Feb-March). There are some rare but poisonous jellyfish up in Queensland, so during stinger season (which ranges directly in the best season — October to May) they advise you to wear these dorky stinger suits when swimming, which look ridiculous but are worth the precaution vs. a very painful few days in the hospital at best, I’m sure!
The catamaran we stayed on was called On Ice and was a great mid-range option (pretty cheap, I might add) costing about $500 AUD/person for 3 days & 2 nights. Keep scrolling below to see the best sailboats I’ve selected for all budgets.
For our boat, On Ice, all the food was included in the price and it was BYO - all up a GREAT deal. The rooms were pretty bare and small, as you imagine on a boat, but you spend all your days outside anyways so you only are really in there to sleep. The boat only has 10 passengers total, and we got really lucky with an amazing crew. Crispy Dave, our caption, was hilarious and really knowledgeable too. The food was REALLY GOOD which totally overshot our expectations. I’d definitely recommend it as a great way to be outdoors on the water and see all around the Whitsundays as an alternative to otherwise staying on Hamilton Island the entire time!
On Ice leaves from Airlie Beach, so you can check that off the bucket list while you’re at it! It’s a tiny little beachy town full of backpackers & travelers jetting to and from adventures on the islands. To get to Airlie, you can fly into Prosperine airport. You can also fly directly into Hamilton Island if you’re heading there instead, but most of the overnight boats do take off from Airlie Beach.
Whitehaven Beach is the most magical place in the world. It’s one of those places where you’re thinking “somebody punch me” because it’s better than the pictures could ever depict & so beautiful it’s truly gasp worthy. Wherever you do stay, make sure Whitehaven Beach is on your to do list!
SAILBOATS FOR ALL BUDGETS:
$$$ - Whitsunday Bliss - a 6 person 3 day/2 night cruise and one of the only 5 star luxury cruises in the Whitsundays. Offered at $1400/person.
$$ - On Ice - this is the one we did, which was a great 2 day/2 night mid-range budget trip @ $500/person with 10 people on board. The food was great & we loved it!
$ - New Horizon - 2 day/2 night social/backpacker boat for $400 AUD/person & offers activities including scuba diving. 32 people on board, so it will be pretty crowded but a great way to explore on a dime!
Enjoy the Whitsundays!! It’s truly one of the top gems of the earth. 😍