The idyllic islands of the Whitsundays are scattered throughout glistening smooth waters, perfectly nestled between the tropical Queensland coast and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef.
Best known as a sailor’s playground, the clear waterways of the Whitsundays draws in visitors from around the world to come and explore the magical shorelines dotted with pristine sandy beaches, sheltered secret coves, colourful fringing reefs and the lush majestic skyline of the island’s towering peaks and rolling hills.
There are endless ways to explore the 74 island oases, from chartering your own yacht, to jumping on a guided day or overnight tour, or taking to the skies and witnessing it all from above. Offering some of the best cruising grounds in the world, whether it is a day, a week or a month, the Whitsunday islands provides the perfect balance between an escapism to relaxation and pure elated adventure. The beauty of the region never ceases to amaze.
Whether you’d prefer a sweeping expanse of white soft sand, or a secluded nook hidden away from it all, the Whitsundays has some of the most diverse and impeccable beaches to discover and enjoy. From snorkeling off the beach, to lazing under the sloping palms, to exploring rugged rock formations to wildlife spotting from the shallows, the island beaches reward any traveller able to reach them with their unspoiled beauty.
The infamous Whitehaven Beach, with the 7km long stretch of white silica sand, is simply iconic and is one of the most spectacular sights that the Whitsundays has to offer. The swirling sands of Hill Inlet, which transform with each changing tide, along with the crystal-clear visibility of the turquoise water, make it easy to understand why it is voted often as Australia’s #1 beach.
However, the beauty doesn’t stop at Whitehaven, with other incredible options just a hop, jump and a skip through the islands: Chalkies Beach boasts not only silica sand but incredible snorkeling from the shore. The ‘disappearing isle’ of Langford Island, where the tidal sand spit winds its way through coral gardens and appears only on the falling tide. Chance Bay is a delightful semi-circle of soft sand and calm waters and for those wanting to adventure further, the southern islands of Thomas and Shaw have some of the most untouched and secluded beaches in the Whitsundays.
When picturing the white beaches and swaying palms of the Whitsundays, hiking may not be the first activity that springs to mind. However, exploring the islands by foot can be an incredible way to gain a different perspective and an incredibly unique view of the nature around you. The more you stray from the shore, the more unexpected beauties you can add to your list of encounters. With trails for the most easy-going of strollers, to the most enthusiastic who welcomes a challenge, there are numerous hikes to roam.
Stand on top of it all and soak up the panoramic, uninterrupted views from the top of Whitsunday Peak, located on Whitsunday Island. This is one of those hikes you won’t forget in a hurry and will be well worth the 5km return up-hill challenge. Look down and out towards the rolling green isles dotting the 360° vista.
Other trails still reward you with views without making the heart pump excessively, including the famous Hill Inlet Lookout over the swirling sands and Whitehaven Beach, or the fascinating short climb through the lush mountain-side of Nara Inlet to a protected cave adorned with Aboriginal artwork from the traditional Ngaro people. These are just a taste of the varying tracks waiting to be trodden throughout the islands diverse landscapes.
Long before Captain Cook sailed the Endeavour through the maze of Whitsunday islands, the Ngaro & Gia people habited the region and islands and are the traditional custodians of the Whitsundays.
Just as the Whitsundays is a legendary location for all yachties and water-lovers today, the Ngaro people were first and foremost a maritime community. Their incredible history, which has been dated to around 8,000 years, can be discovered throughout the islands including the ancient rock art in the caves in the Nara Inlet on Hook Island, as well as the many archaeological sites and discoveries that provide a small glimpse into their fascinating way of life.
The Ngaro domain stretched over the waterways, reef, and lush vegetation and life on the islands during that time. Where the Ngaro once traversed the isles in canoe or outrigger, today we can navigate the Ngaro Sea Trail through the islands by boat (or kayak), to follow in the wake of where they once travelled.
Our indigenous history is just the beginning. You can read on and learn more about how it all began here…
Home to an incredible range of animals, both below the surface and above, the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef will intrigue and enthrall visitors hoping to encounter the best of Australian wildlife, including those that swim, breach, soar, hop, climb (or even slither).
Below the waves, the Great Barrier Reef and Islands are home to 1625 species of fish and coral, 133 different varieties of rays and sharks, 30 different types whales and dophins, six of the world’s seven sea turtles and is home to one of the world’s most important dugong populations. Roaming the islands you may be lucky enough to spot the adorable rock wallabies, or the ancient giant lizards, Goanna’s, hiding in the brush of perched on a tree. Lift your eyes to the skies to witness a mesmerizing range of bird species, with every combination of colour and size – From the laughing kookaburras to the tropical rainbow lorikeets, as well as the impressive wingspan of the majestic White Bellied Sea Eagle.
The Whitsundays is home to some spectacular species, and whilst we encourage and welcome you to observe and meet them, we request caution and importantly, admiration, for these incredible creatures.