It's hard to imagine as you're sailing the magnificent Whitsundays, but these islands were once mountain peaks on the Australian mainland. After the last ice age, rising oceans drowned the valleys between the mountains, creating 74 islands from the highest peaks, the shining jewels of Tropical North Queensland's crown. Today, these islands are renowned for their luxury resorts, but there are a great range of accommodation options and activities to suit every taste and budget. It's a bit cliche, but there really is something for everyone in the Whitsundays.
WE'VE SELECTED THE TOP NINE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS TO SHOWCASE HERE, CHOSEN BY ACCESSIBILITY, NATURAL BEAUTY, AND GENERAL APPEAL. EACH ONE IS DESCRIBED IN DETAIL, INCLUDING THE SERVICES AVAILABLE ON EACH.
It was Captain James Cook, the man credited with the DISCOVERY of Australia, who gave the Whitsundays their name on his journey up the east coast in 1770. He passed through the narrow channel between the mainland and the islands on Sunday 4th June (the seventh Sunday after easter, which is known as 'Whit Sunday'). It is now widely accepted that he didn't actually pass through on this date, as he had failed to take into account the yet to be brought into existence International Date Line.
The Whitsundays started to attract tourists in the early 1930's, with the construction of a 'resort' on Daydream Island. Consisting of unfloored timber huts, with iron roofs and iron windows, the first Whitsunday Islands tourist resort was a far cry from the unmitigated luxury that can be found in some of our island resorts today.
There are a wide range of one-day trips to the reef and the world famous island resorts - such as Hamilton, Daydream and Hook - with some cruises taking in more than one resort during the day.
As you sail among deserted islands, beaches and reefs, backpackers can dive and snorkel among colourful fish and coral, bushwalk through tropical forest and sunbake on deserted beaches while the boat's crew pampers you.
While cruising during July to September, you might spot a Humpback whale as these gentle giants migrate to the Whitsundays from Antarctica to breed.
WHITSUNDAY RENT A YACHT
6 Bay Terrace, Shute Harbour (MAP)
Phone (07) 4946 9232 / Fax (07) 4946 9512
Tollfree 1800 075 000
For a holiday that offers both relaxation and adventure, there are few better places than the Whitsundays - one of the world's best sailing destinations. Charter your own yacht, catamaran or motor cruiser to explore the 74 island wonders.
Within an hour of leaving the private jetty at Shute Harbour, you can be moored at a luxury island resort or in a secluded bay. Keep the kids entertained with a range of activities including swimming, snorkelling or fishing. Or why not try a National Park bush walk on one of the islands? Tongue Point lookout offers breathtaking views of Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. Whatever your choice, a charter holiday in the Whitsundays provides access to it all.
Take your pick from Whitsunday Rent A Yacht's fleet of vessels ranging in size from nine to 15 metres. Vessels accommodate between two and 11 passengers and are fitted out with the latest equipment for safety, comfort and convenience.
No boat licence is required - only minimal boating experience. We provide a briefing DVD ahead of time, as well as a comprehensive briefing session on the first day of your charter. Cruise guides can be provided for extra tuition or for the duration of your charter
QUEENSLAND YACHT CHARTERS
Abel Point Marina, Airlie Beach (MAP)
Phone (07) 4946 7400 / Fax (07) 4946 7698
The best in Whitsunday sailing and boating holidays!
Join multi-award winning Whitsunday bareboat charter company, Queensland Yacht Charters for your next boating adventure. QYC are well known as the Whitsunday Islands largest owner-operated charter company with a fleet of international Sailing Vessels such as Bavaria, Beneteau, Catalina and Delphia Yachts, Seawind Catamarans & our new Fountaine Pajot Catamarans in both sail and power, as well as a range of flybridge powerboats and Scimitar power catamarans. There is a large range to cater to all tastes and budgets.
On your floating holiday home, you'll quickly be able to leave your everyday life behind and sail away to explore and relax among 74 perfect Whitsunday tropical islands lying in a brilliant blue and turquoise sea with secluded anchorages, magnificent coral reefs and lushly forested islands.
25 Ocean View Avenue, Airlie Beach (MAP)
Phone (07) 4946 6848
The Whitsundays... three days in one!
Multi award winning Ocean Rafting visits the 'Wild Side' of the Whitsunday Islands, the uninhabited islands with beautiful natural scenery brimming with marine, bird and animal life. There are two exciting tour options, the Northern Exposure and Southern Lights. Each Ocean Rafting day offers three days in one, including an exhilarating ride to Whitehaven Beach, pristine snorkelling reefs and guided Whitsunday Island National Parks walks.
Ocean Rafting is the only tour to have direct access to the stunning and iconic Hill Inlet beach, and special snorkel sites at Hook Island and Border Island ensure a memorable underwater experience. The semi rigid inflatable vessels are super fast allowing guests to experience a fun ride, adventure and education amongst the natural beauty of the Whitsundays. 28 passengers at most allows for personal snorkelling lessons and the pleasure of a small group. Ocean Rafting is proud to be Advanced Ecotourism Certified.
Whitsunday Airport, Airlie Beach (MAP)
Phone (07) 4946 9111 / Fax (07) 4946 9100
Experience the wonder of the Whitsundays!
Air Whitsunday offer a wide range of scenic flights over the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Some of Air Whitsunday scenic flight tours also offer snorkelling inside Hardy Reef and this is what makes Air Whitsunday's tours unique. Hardy Reef is a convenient location for both the first time snorkeller and the more experienced, thanks to the coral lagoon it creates.
Along with their snorkelling tours to the reef, Air Whitsunday also provide day trips to island resorts, picnics at Whitehaven Beach, scenic flights with the added bonus of a water landing and with the Whitsundays being so well known for its yachting compatibility, what could be more romantic than being picked up from your yacht by seaplane for any of their amazing scenic flights tours
Building 2, Abel Point Marina, Airlie Beach (MAP)
Phone (07) 4946 4662 / Fax (07) 4946 4382
Experience the best of the Whitsundays!
Cruise Whitsundays is an innovative and experienced tourism operator offering a range of day cruises and an island resort connections service in the wonderful Whitsunday islands and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
With a range of popular day cruises available, including the famous Whitehaven Beach and stunning outer Great Barrier Reef; Cruise Whitsundays provides the perfect opportunity to explore an incredible part of the world.
Cruise Whitsundays provide transfers to/from Hamilton Island Airport and Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) to Daydream Island Resort and Spa, Long Island, Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island. The service provides a seamless, hassle free and fast connection for arriving and departing guests with modern and well-appointed vessels
WHITSUNDAY SAILING ADVENTURES
AUSTRALIAN TALL SHIPS
Accommodation on the islands is, almost without exception, of an exceedingly high standard. Hook Island Wilderness Resort probably offers the Whitsundays' only real 'budget' accommodation option, with shared dormitory style accommodation from $35 per person, or a private beachfront cabin for $100.
Five star Hayman Island resort is probably at the other end of the spectrum, an exclusive, premium island resort. Forbes Magazine declared Hayman Island 'The World's Best Beach Resort'. Definitely one for those who appreciate - and can afford- the best of everything.
Bustling Hamilton Island, with its busy airport, encompasses a number of hotels, form three star to five star, romantic palm-fringed bungalows, self-contained apartments, and an exclusive beach-front boutique resort. This is Australia's most visited island, and transport around the island is via golf buggy.
On Long Island, there are three separate resorts. Long Island Resort and Peppers Palm Bay Hideaway have similar attractions - a disco, parasailing, water-skiing and the usual arms length list of sports and activities. However, the latter is much more upmarket, with an emphasis on peace and quiet, while Long Island Resort attracts funseekers and offers some more affordable packages. South Long Island Nature Lodge is a unique 'no phone/no television' zone for the ultimate back to nature holiday.
South Molle Island is a family favourite, and has been for generations. Providing moderately priced accommodation, and no end of activities for the whole family, South Molle Resort is quite busy during school holiday periods.
Pristine Lindeman Island is home to Australia's only Club Med, with all the entertainment and activities that Club Med have become famous for. But apart from the area around the resort, the island is National Park, with walking tracks and panoramic views.
Daydream Island, tiny Daydream Island, with its immaculately renovated 4.5 star resort and world class health spa is a number one destination.
Brampton Island provides endless activities suitable for those looking for an adventurous vacation and peacefulness for those who want to break away from it all.
Whitsunday Island is an undeveloped wilderness, with little more than a few basic campsites and some established walking trails to give any indication of human presence. It's main drawcard is the gleamingly white Whitehaven Beach, which is the most photographed beach in the Whitsundays, and a topping point on many tours and island cruises.
You can pitch your tent at QPWS camping grounds on 17 of the islands, but you must haul along your own gear, food, drinking water, fuel stoves and nature-loving attitude (please, don't leave anything behind you but only footprints). Camping grounds are occasionally closed to alternate traffic between them in order to minimise the impact on the environment. To organise your trip, visit the excellent Airlie Beach QPWS, which provides permits and enthusiastic advice on highlights.