One of Australia’s most spectacular and beloved places is called the Whitsundays! A region of the state of Queensland surrounded by 74 archipelagos perfectly positioned between idyllic beaches, very green, crystal clear waters and protected by the Great Barrier Reef.
Whitsundays brings together everything that is best for lovers of boating, diving, snorkeling, fishing, or just relaxing in an unrivaled beach destination.
For those who love history, some of the islands have archeological sites with rock designs and protected for over 8,000 years by the Ngaro Aboriginal people, the original owners of this beautiful land.
Another striking feature of the Whitsundays is that the region has options for all budgets, from backpackers to those looking for exclusive and luxurious accommodation.
Without a doubt, one of the most desirable regions in Australia, not least because one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach, is located there.
HOW TO GET TO WHITSUNDAYS
With Whitsundays being one of Australia’s top tourist attractions, there are plenty of ways to get there! You can drive, take the bus or train, but the most practical way is to fly into one of their airports.
- Airplane: There are two options for airports to get to Whitsundays. Via Arlie Beach via Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine – PPP), which serves the mainland and then transfer/ferry to most of the Whitsunday Islands. Or Hamilton Island Airport, called the Great Barrier Reef Airport (HTI) – ideal for those staying on Hamilton Island. Both airports offer flights to/from most Australian cities. [Airfare to Whitsundays]
- Car/Campervan: for those who are taking a road trip through Australia and will pass along the coast of Queensland – from Brisbane to Cairns, for example, Whitsundays is located in the middle of the way and must be a mandatory stop. Arlie Beach is the main city on the mainland. [Australia car rental quote]
- Bus: There are two companies, Premier and Greyhound, which run along the Queensland coast (Brisbane to/from Cairns) and one of the stops is Arlie Beach. If you are going in a group, the ideal is to rent a car, which is faster and more practical.
- Train: Another way to get to Whitsundays is by train. Queensland Rail Travel runs from Brisbane to Proserpine, after which you can take a shuttle or bus to Arlie Beach – 20-30 minutes.
WHEN TO GO TO WHITSUNDAYS
Although Whitsundays is classed as an all-year destination, there are a few things you need to consider. The best months to travel to the Whitsundays are from May to October, when there are no hurricanes or jellyfish.
The Whitsundays cyclone season runs from November to April, so if you travel during this period, always be on the lookout for the bom.gov.au weather app or website.
Did you know? Cyclone is known in the northern hemisphere as a hurricane, just to give you a reference! 🙂
Cyclone months coincide with Australia’s jellyfish season, they are: Irukandji or box jellyfish – see Australia’s jellyfish map. So, for those who go at this time (October to April/May) it is highly recommended to wear the overalls when entering the sea – I’ll talk more about that here in this post about snorkeling in the Barrier Reef.
WHERE TO STAY ON WHITSUNDAYS
As I said earlier, Whitsundays is an Australia destination for all budgets, but don’t go thinking it’s cheap! As one of Australia’s main tourist hubs, bargaining is not something you will find, regardless of the accommodation category.
In 2017, Whitsundays was impacted by a cyclone that destroyed a lot, including several resorts were closed, especially on the islands. But on the other hand, after extensive renovations, they are coming back even better!!!
Below are the main places to stay in Whitsundays, one of them will suit you:
Arlie Beach is the main hub in the Whitsundays and the big advantage for those with a car is that Arlie is on the mainland, not the islands. Almost every major Australian city has flights to Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine – PPP), as I mentioned earlier.
Also known as a backpacker’s favorite spot, until recently, there weren’t many options for those looking for something more luxurious, but that is changing and every day Arlie is getting more complete and beautiful.
One option to get away from the muvuca is to look for hotels or apartments in Cannonvale, a neighboring city, which you can’t even tell where one starts and the other ends. And that’s exactly where we stayed. We chose an apartment with a beautiful view and enjoyed it a lot.
My tip is that you take it easy on Booking (using our links, please!), as there are a multitude of options!!! And if you don’t like noise, avoid Main Street and Arlie Esplanade, because there, at night the animal catches! (laughter).
Below are some good rated accommodations (hotels and apartments) in Arlie Beach and Cannonvale:
- Views on Shelby (4 estrelas, Cannonvale – já ficamos)
- Mirage Whitsundays (4 1/2 estrelas, Arlie Beach)
- Mantra Boathouse Apartments (4 1/2 estrelas, Arlie Beach)
- A Point of View (4 estrelas, Arlie Beach)
- Mantra Club Croc (4 estrelas, Cannonvale)
- Airlie Beach Magnums (Hostel, Arlie Beach)
ISLANDS OF WHITSUNDAYS
Although Whitsundays has 74 islands, few of them are open for lodging or overnight, below I will list some options that go from luxury/exclusive to camping.
– HAYMAN ISLAND
For those looking for exclusivity, a 5-star resort, a great snorkeling reef just a step away from the island, Hayman Island may be the solution.
The only lodging option is the elegant InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, which has just reopened after extensive renovation.
– HAMILTON ISLAND
My darling among the islands and my favorite place to stay in Whitsundays! It is practically an island city with an airport, restaurants, mini-market, boat trips, beach and everything you need to enjoy your vacation.
Of course, everything comes at a price, but it’s well worth it and it’s not unattainable. Hamilton Island’s vibe is perfect, not to mention that you can’t drive in there, only electric buggy! A great destination for families or couples.
Hamilton’s geography is beautiful, and if hiking is your thing, don’t miss the scenic and challenging hike to Passage Peak. Super visual!
If you decide to stay on Hamilton Island, I highly recommend that you buy a ticket directly to the island and not to Arlie Beach, unless the price is worth the transfer between Arlie airport and the marina and, on top of that, the price of the ferry to Hamilton Island. Pay attention to this “detail”, so you don’t have a headache!
You can stay in hotels/resorts or apartments, see some options below:
- Lagoon 206 (2 bedroom apartment, 4 stars – we’ve stayed!)
- Beach Front Lagoon (2 bedroom apartment, 4 stars)
- Yacht Club Villa (4 bedroom apartment, 4 stars)
- Beach Club (adults only hotel, 5 stars)
- Qualia (5 star adults only hotel)
– DAYDREAM ISLAND
Another island with only one lodging option, but one of the most famous due to its proximity to Arlie Beach.
Daydream Island Resort was completely renovated and reopened in 2020! It bets on eco-resort style, has 277 rooms and is a great option for families.
– ISLANDS FOR CAMP
For those who like camping and want to stay on one of the Whitsundays Islands there are options for you! Wow…
Advance reservations are required on the Parks and Forest Quensland website, but be aware that while bathrooms are available, most do not have a shower.
WHAT TO DO IN WHITSUNDAYS, AUSTRALIA
Whitsundays in Australia is one of those destinations where you can spend 2 to 30 days and there is sure to be no shortage of things to do. There are those who prefer to stay there and do nothing, as enjoying the landscape is already a must.
But to help you prepare a itinerary, I’m sending you some tips below for what to do in the Whitsundays, especially if you choose Arlie Beach as your base.
1- SAILING THE ISLANDS OF WHITSUNDAYS
Sailing is one of the best things to do on Airlie Beach; a relaxed tour, most of the times with food and drink included and the scenery is really spectacular.
There are several types of boats and island tours departing from Airlie Beach and some from Hamilton Island. The type of tour will only depend on how much you can invest.
We chose the Camira catamaran tour and it was excellent; a full day sailing around the islands (10h), with a stop at Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, food and drink included and the crew very dear. I highly recommend it, especially for those who want to know the region in a relaxed way.
Boat trips to see the sunset, to snorkel the coral reef, to go deep sea fishing and even to stay overnight (live aboard) are also very popular programs.
2- WHITEHAVEN BEACH & HILL INLET
Whitehaven Beach is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and I believe it is the most famous beach in Australia, after Bondi Beach in Sydney.
For those of us who have beautiful beaches in Brazil, this fascination may seem like an exaggeration, but when you get there, you’ll understand.
There are 7 km of beach, transparent sea and virgin forest everywhere. Due to its 99% silica composition, Whitehaven’s white sand, which looks more like talcum powder, never burns our feet, no matter what temperature it is.
Describing Hill Inlet is a little complicated, the look is like a swirl of sand and sea, this spectacle of nature is created due to the coming and going of the tides! The best way to see Hill Inlet is to fly over the Whitsundays, but you can also see the phenomenon from the viewpoint on Whitsundays Island.
3- SNORKEL ON WHITSUNDAYS AND GREAT BARRIER OF CORALS
Scuba diving or snorkeling is one of the most amazing activities to do in the Whitsundays region, besides being able to see corals in the middle of the islands, you can also see the Great Barrier Reef of Australia up close!
There are several places on the coast of Queensland where you can dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and Whitsundays is one of them! Certainly a tour that I highly recommend…
The best time to do water sports in the Whitsundays is from May to October (or June to September to be even more careful!), as this is when there is almost no incidence of the “killer” jellyfish: Irukandji or box jelly fish. Every other month of the year, don’t go into the water without the protective coveralls (photo below).
There are several places to go diving, it all depends on the tour you choose. Whitsunday water is always between 24 to 26°C and is almost always crystal clear.
Snorkel tours to consider in Whitsundays:
4- ARLIE BEACH LAGOON
The meeting point for residents and tourists of all ages is definitely the Arlie Beach Lagoon. A public swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, perfect for relaxing and not even remembering the heat.
At sunset, the young people also gather around there to say goodbye to the day, jinx and enjoy this place that, like Rio, was also blessed by God. 😉
If you want a real beach, a quieter place with a jellyfish safety net, go to Boathaven Beach.
5- FLY OVER THE CORAL BARRIER
One of the most amazing and wonderful tours I’ve ever done was flying over the Great Barrier Reef and seeing one of the most incredible natural beauty in the world.
The flyover over the coral reef at Whitsundays becomes even more special as there is a heart-shaped coral that looks like a sculpture! It’s not cheap but worth every penny!!!
I did the 60 minute helicopter tour and it was perfect, especially as I sat next to the pilot and had a full view of the corals! There is a tour that, in addition to the flyover, also includes the landing on Whitehaven beach, the company that operates these flights is GLS. Regardless of the tour, my advice is to book in advance, especially in high season or school holidays.
Pay attention when hiring any overflight service, as sometimes the tour only includes the Whitsundays islands, but the sensational thing is that the tour that includes the barrier reef!
There is also a seaplane flyover, which is more cost-effective and everyone sits in the window.
7- BAIA WALK FROM CANNONVALE TO ARLIE BEACH
The walk along the bay between Arlie Beach and Cannonvale is a delight and guarantees a beautiful view, people call it the Bicentennial Walkway.
My recommendation is to take the ride from the Mantra Boathouse in Arlie Beach to the Fat Frog Beach Cafe in Cannonvale – or vice versa. It’s about 7 kilometers (round trip).
This walk is also nice, as it offers a chance to visit some bars and restaurants to enjoy a happy hour in the late afternoon! And if you like brunch, the Fat Frog Beach Cafe is a great choice!
8- LIFE IS A PARTY AT ARLIE BEACH
For those who like to party, bar, music and entertainment, Arlie Beach is certainly not lacking, there are those who say that the best parties in Australia for the young people take place there!
The best bars for happy hour and night time are on Arlie Esplanade and Main Street.
9- ENJOY A QUIET HAPPY HOUR
As I mentioned earlier, Arlie Beach is diversifying and there are programs for those who want to be at the party or for those who want to enjoy a happy hour or a quieter night.
To find bars, cafes and restaurants in a calmer environment, I recommend the Abel Point Marina or Port of Airlie region.
10- CAPE GLOCESTER / HIDEWAY BAY TO ESCAPE MUVUCA
If you’re spending a few days in the Whitsundays and want to see the area’s beautiful, empty beaches, then rent a car and escape to Hideway Bay.
Cape Glocester is about 45 minutes from Arlie Beach and you can spend the whole day there just fine. I recommend the following stops for you:
- Nelly Bay Dune Management Area: beautiful place to enjoy the beach with practically nobody, a little strange to find, but on Trochus Street there are two entrances for public parking.
- Dingo Beach: it’s worth a stop to see the beach at high tide and low tide, and there’s a pub (very simple) right in front of the beach, that moment for you to relax and relax, you know? 🙂
- Hideaway Bay & Cape Glocester: Hideaway Bay Beach has a public beach to enjoy, but if you keep going to the tip of Cape Glocester, there are two resorts that are great stops for lunch or a drink, you can choose between Montes Reef Resort and Cape Gloucester Beach Resort.
Wanting to go a little further, Bowen is a cool day trip to take from Arlie Beach, a beach that’s making it onto the radar as one of the new (but not quite) “secret spots” off the coast of Queensland.
11- WATERFALL – CEDAR CREEK FALLS
Another little program in the Whitsundays region ideal for those with a car is to visit the Cedar Creek waterfall. It is neither huge nor unforgettable, but a nice place to cool off if you have time to spare.
Cedar Creek Falls is about 25 minutes from Arlie Beach and an important tip is that depending on the weather, it may be dry. The ideal is to check if it has rained in the last few days, before you go.
READY TO TRAVEL TO WHITSUNDAYS IN AUSTRALIA?
Hope you enjoyed these tips on what to do in Whitsundays Australia! A very special place and worth a visit!
Any questions or suggestions, I’m available in the comments at the end of this post! 🙂
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