Dazzling sapphire waters, colourful coral cays, bright, white inviting beaches, safe anchorages and coves, and hundreds of inhabited and uninhabited islands to explore: these are the Whitsunday Islands.

“I’ve never once heard a traveller return less than thrilled.”
– Catriona Rowntree

Is there any other way to explore the world’s ultimate cruising region other than on your own boat – owned or rented? Can you believe that you haven’t yet sold the house and spent three months undertaking this arduous task?

Dropping a line over the side to catch lunch. Determining off which island or in which cove you’ll anchor tonight. Popping into a resort for dinner. Sipping wine on the flybridge, watching the sun set. Diving overboard with a snorkel and exploring the coral. Landing for a walk in the islands’ rainforests. There’s so much to do, you’ll be exhausted.

If the boat option – cruiser or yacht – seems a dream too far, then the resorts of the Whitsundays have something for everyone: luxury, five-star, arrive-by-helicopter retreats for you and your film-star pals, family resorts where even the parents get to relax, and romantic and secluded hideaways for passionate couples. And there are crewed private charter yachts to take you around to all the hotspots.

“The Greek Islands, Downunder.”
– George Negus

The islands lie northeast of Mackay, and Airlie Beach is now the main land set-off point. There are also direct flights to Hamilton Island from many capital cities.

Did you know?
Originally the Cumberland and Northumberland Islands (two counties of England), they’ve since become known by the name of the channel between the mainland and South Molle and Daydream Islands: the Whitsunday Channel.

How to get there
Two airports, Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Coast Airport (located on the mainland at Proserpine), serve the Whitsundays with regular air services.

Queensland Rail operates regular services each week from Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville to Proserpine. You can catch the fast Tilt Train or the Sunlander service.


Sign up to receive more great travel content - it's FREE!

Greyhound buses operate a number of services daily to Airlie Beach from Brisbane and Cairns and points in between.

Best time to go
Anytime is a good time to visit the Whitsundays. However, if you want to spot some whales while you’re there, go between July and September.

Further information
Useful websites:

Tourism Queensland website

The Whitsundays Central Reservations Centre


** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.

Enjoy this article?

You can find it in Issue 8 along with
loads of other great stories and tips.