Judy Bailey relaxes on beautiful Hinchinbrook Island and sees a pair of koalas cuddling in the wild on Magnetic Island.
Cruise Whitsundays’ Cherene Poidevin talks about quiet beaches, romantic islands and what makes the area so memorable.
The Whitsundays are one of the most magical places on the planet. This chain of islands is within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, so it is part of the largest living ecosystem in the world. He does brilliant snorkeling and scuba diving. There are fringing reefs that surround the islands, and these are great places to view marine life, both resident and migratory, including humpback whales and pilot whales, dolphins and porpoises, green sea turtles and dugongs.
The islands are raw in natural beauty, with native hoop pines dominating the hillside. Visiting the islands is truly visiting a living museum since the Ngaro tribe started living here around 10,000 years ago – you can still see ocher rock paintings and tree scars.
Cruise Whitsundays is based in Arlie Beach and offers several ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef and neighboring islands. Our Reefsleep is quite special, with guests sleeping under the stars in specially designed Reefbeds on Reefworld, our permanently moored multi-level pontoon. We also have Reefsuites, two underwater suites equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows and glass floors that provide a front-row seat for marine life. Both overnight experiences include snorkel gear and private guided tours, all meals and beverages, access to the underwater observatory, and a semi-submarine tour.
We also offer full day and half day cruises and island transfers. The Day Tour is the only tour in the Whitsundays where you can spend the whole day on beautiful Whitehaven Beach. Cruises also include tours of the reef, Hamilton Island and sailing adventures.
There are 74 islands in total – it’s literally a huge playground for lovers of land and water. Hook Island has several amazing snorkeling spots. South Molle is perfect for those after adventure, with hiking trails and camping for families and individuals. Long Island is ideal for that feeling of total escape, especially romantic getaways, and Hamilton Island has it all.
You also can’t pass by Whitsunday Island, which is the largest in the chain and has 7km of snow-white, super soft sand which is the purest in the world and never gets hot. In all the islands, the water is the most beautiful shade of blue due to the limestone plateau that stretches from the beach to the sea.
Alongside Whitehaven, other top beaches include Hill Inlet Lookout, which offers stunning views of the swirling water and sand. The colors are phenomenal when salt and fresh water mix as they continually change hues with the tides. On the beach, you can get up close to the resident stingrays. Horseshoe Bay in Bowen is a great place to swim and picnic, as is Cape Hillsborough south of Airlie and Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island.
There are plenty of water and land activities including jet skis, stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking, fishing, mountain biking and bushwalking. If you are ready to exert yourself, you can rent a yacht.
A favorite is Heart Reef, a naturally formed heart-shaped reef that has to be one of the most romantic spots in the country – but it can only be seen from the air.
For families, the lagoon is a hit for swimming, and there are playgrounds and free movie nights under the stars. I would be remiss not to mention the delicious cuisine and variety of restaurant choices we also have at our fingertips – as you can imagine, the fresh seafood is a highlight.
The Whitsundays are blessed with sunshine whatever the season. Even on not-so-perfect days, you can still play in the warm temperatures. October is usually the sunniest month. From June to September, the temperatures are milder. This is the first whale watching season. Some prefer the cooler winter months, where the beaches are calmer. Honestly there is no bad time to visit.
There are many ways to get to and around the area, but the most convenient is to fly into Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine or Hamilton Island Airport. Of course, a road trip is always a good idea too – the journey from Cairns or Brisbane via the Bruce Highway is an experience in itself.
Some come for a long weekend, others stay for weeks. The great thing about the Whitsundays is that it’s a destination you can return to because there’s so much to see and do.