Things to do in the Whitsundays
With 74 islands to choose from (and that’s not even counting the beaches and bays) there’s no shortage of activities to occupy visitors in the Whitsunday Islands. There are a couple of must-see destinations that most tours will cover if you are short of time. Whitehaven Beach, on the group’s namesake and biggest island of Whitsunday Island, is considered to be one of the world’s top three beaches and where Oprah Winfrey hosted a beach barbie during her 2011 tour of Australia. The 7 kilometre-long stretch is famous for its 98 percent silica sand, so squeaky and pristine you can polish your jewellery in it! While you’re there, don’t miss the swirls of white sand and turquoise water at Hill Inlet created by the tide – another one of the Whitsunday’s most iconic sights.
Another must-see is the magical Heart Reef within Hardy Reef. Instagram alert! This stunning, naturally formed, heart-shaped reef is ringed by its own lagoon and protected from water vessels so you can only view it from above via seaplane or helicopter – well worth the trip.
Once you have ticked those two sites off your list, you can get down to the business of exploring the Whitsunday Islands and Coast. Airlie Beach is party central and a hub for all your shopping, dining and entertainment needs, as well as the gateway to discovering the islands. From high-end resorts (Hayman, Hamilton and Daydream Island) to unadorned desert islands (the majority of the Whitsundays), there really is something for everyone on the Whitsundays. Water-based activities are naturally the most popular things to do from swimming in lagoons to adrenalin-fuelled watersports, but there’s also untouched rainforest and hidden nooks to discover within abundant protected national park areas.
For our pick of what to see and do in the Whitsundays, read on.
Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands are an ideal gateway to visit one of the world’s natural wonders. From cruises to sailing expeditions, snorkelling, diving and glass-bottomed boats, the Great Barrier Reef is a must-visit.
The Whitsunday’s hub of dining, entertainment and shopping, Airlie Beach is renowned for its party atmosphere day and night. The relaxed atmosphere and attractive surrounds make this coastal town a popular launchpad for visitors from all over to explore the Whitsunday Islands.
As the Whitsunday’s most developed and largest island resort, Hamilton offers a variety of accommodation, dining options and activities for all budgets. The idyllic yet bustling locale is also the site of prestigious sailing events as well as heaps of watersports and walking trails.
The least developed of the eight resort islands of the Whitsundays, Long Island is the place to while away the hours on a hammock overlooking pristine white sand and azure water, or get busy with watersports and walking trails among the Molle Islands National Park.
An underwater wonderland for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts, the largely uninhabited Hook Island has some of the Whitsunday’s best dive sites off the northern side of this rugged island. Come for the day or stay castaway style in one of the many national park campsites.