The 74 islands of the Whitsundays lay in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, cradled by the tropical waters of the Coral Sea, a truly remarkable icon of beauty. It is not only the majestic wildlife and breathtaking natural sights that make the Whitsundays one of the best places to go on holiday in Australia, but also the huge amount of things to do in the Whitsundays.

 

Whether its getting in touch with nature while scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, to relaxing on the silky white silica sands of white sands of Whitehaven Beach, find the best things to do on the islands in our Whitsundays Travel Guide.



Whitsundays Islands


A tropical island holiday is one that most people dream of, and the Whitsundays offers a diverse range of island resorts for all budgets to make that dream a reality. The islands of the Whitsundays were once mountains, part of the mainland, drowned by the sea after the Ice Ages. Each of the eight inhabited islands have their own different landscapes and attractions, and each resort has its own personality and facilities.

 

Daydream Island

 

The Island

 

Daydream (still known as West Molle on mariner’s charts) is easily accessible from Shute Harbour and Airlie Beach, with ferry connections from the Great Barrier Reef Airport and other island resorts. The island itself is just 1 kilometre long and 300-400 metres wide surrounded by beautiful fringing reef and features a short but pretty rainforest walk.

 

The Resort

 

Daydream Island Resort & Spa encompasses the entire island, offering 296 rooms (including 9 suites). Unique to the resort is a man-made outdoor aquarium, a stunning network of reef lagoons containing over 40 marine fish species and 50 coral varieties. Recreational activities also include water sports, mini golf, movies at the open-air scenic cinema or swimming in one of the island’s tropical swimming pools. The resort’s award-winning Rejuvenation Spa offers a range of health and beauty treatments overlooking the Coral Sea and Whitsunday islands, and the Endeavour Wedding Chapel overlooks Lovers Cove.

 

Hook Island

 

Hook Island is the second largest island of the Whitsunday group, with 58 square kilometres of National Park. Spectacular fringing reef is popular for scuba diving and snorkelling immediately offshore. Equally popular are the forest walks around the island, the secluded bays and inlets that provide safe overnight anchorages, and the Aboriginal cave paintings in Nara Inlet.

 

Lindeman Island

 

Lindeman Island is located to the south of the Whitsunday islands in the Lindeman Group, with over six square kilometres of National Park. The island features many spectacular bush walks offering stunning views from the hilltops and plenty of secluded beaches to explore. The island’s resort is currently closed and undergoing a major redevelopment to a premium standard.

 

Long Island

 

The Island

 

Named after its key feature, Long Island is 9km long and only 400m at its widest point. The closest island to the mainland, Long Island is a wonder to explore filled with National Park walks and plentiful flora and fauna. The fringing coral reefs are expansive throughout the many bays on the island, great for snorkelling and beachcombing. There are several bushwalking tracks on the island, meandering through sub-tropical rainforest leading to rocky outcrops and beautiful outlooks to the surrounding islands.

 

The Resort

 

Long Island Resort is located on Happy Bay, offering standard accommodation for the budget conscious under swaying palms, overlooking the soft sandy beach. Guests can enjoy two pools, extensive outdoor entertainment areas and a range of watersports including snorkelling straight off the beach. The day spa offers massage and beauty treatments, or you could relax at the swim up pool bar.

 

The accommodation ranges from backpacker dorms to beachfront rooms with stunning views over the sandy beach to the calm bay. The resort’s jetty extends along the water line and is a great spot for turtle watching and fishing.

 

Hamilton Island

 

The Island

 

While privately owned, 70% of Hamilton Island remains National Park. There are 20km of bushwalking trails and the island’s highest point, Passage Peak, offers spectacular views of the Whitsunday Passage and surrounding islands. A buzzing community in its own right, the island is home to the Great Barrier Reef Airport which is serviced by commercial jets daily.

 

The Resorts

 

Hamilton Island Resort effortlessly combines island resort with a village atmosphere that will keep you relaxed and entertained simultaneously. Laze the day away in luxury - by one of the island’s many palm fringed beaches or pools. For a change of scenery, head to the marina precinct, a buzzing little community with everything from a bakery and fish and chip shop, to fine dining restaurants and fashion boutiques. Bush walks, kayaking, windsurfing, snorkelling and sailing are just some of the 60 activities on offer at Hamilton Island, and for a truly unique experience, enjoy a round of golf at the Hamilton Island Golf Club, the only course in Australia on its own island! Of course, if golf’s not your thing, you could opt for a treatment at the day spa.

 

Hamilton Island offers a range of accommodation from affordable bungalows to four and a half star hotel rooms and holiday homes. Those looking for a pure indulgent holiday will want to stay at qualia, the island’s exclusive luxury resort, offering personalised service, exclusive pools and restaurants. qualia is a world class resort with a mesmerising calmness rarely found today.

 

The Whitsundays apartments, adjacent to Catseye Beach, offer a fully self-contained alternative ideal for families, couples and groups who prefer the independence of apartment style living with well-appointed kitchens, two way bathrooms and a large open plan living area opening to a generous balcony. The apartments sleep up to five people.

 

Hayman Island

 

The Island

 

Hayman Island is the northernmost resort island in the Whitsundays and boasts some of the best fringing reef snorkelling in the region. The island’s landscape is generally sparse, although home to a small population of the rare and endangered Proserpine Rock Wallaby. The picturesque beaches range from sandy to coral and many of Hayman’s protected bays are popular with boats for  snorkelling and anchoring overnight.

 

The Resort

 

Hayman is Australia’s celebrated private island destination in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Hayman welcomes guests to enjoy a unique and memorable experience offering luxury, relaxation, adventure and a lifestyle that is genuine and sincere. The resort features superbly appointed rooms, suites, penthouses, beach villas and a beach house, world class restaurants offering contemporary Australian, Mediterranean and Oriental cuisine, the award-winning Spa Hayman health and beauty facility and a children’s activity centre. Marina facilities offer PADI diving, fishing, snorkelling, sea kayaking, reef cruises and seaplane and helicopter adventures. Guests can relax and enjoy Hayman’s superb pools, head to the island’s beaches for sunbathing and snorkelling, take one of the fascinating art and garden tours, or try their skills on the tennis and squash courts or the golf driving range.

 

South Molle Island

 

South Molle Island features 4 square kilometres of National Park rimmed by inlets and palm fringed beaches, and some of the best walking tracks and lookouts in the region. It is the only resort island included in the Ngaro Sea Trail which traverses three islands to take in stunning natural scenery. Adventure Island Resort offers budget accommodation.

 

Deserted Islands

 

Of the 67 remaining islands, all are uninhabited and some have allocated camping sites right on the beach front. Permits are cheap and all campsites have a maximum number of campers, meaning you may even have the entire island to yourself.

 

Camping There

 

To get to the deserted island campsites, you can take your own private boat, hire a ‘skipper yourself’ bareboat, or you can book a transfer service to be dropped off directly on the beach at the campsite. You can BYO camping gear, or hire it from local camping stores or the transfer company. Most campsites have toilet facilities and tables; however check with the Department of Environment and Resource Management for the facilities at your chosen campsite.

 

Campers Must Be Self Sufficient

 

• Take your own drinking water

 

• No fires permitted - use gas or fuel stoves for cooking

 

• Return all of your rubbish and dispose of thoughtfully

 

• “Take only pictures and leave only memories”

 

 

Going Exploring

 

Whether you’re just exploring for the day, or your campsite is set up, there is plenty of nature to discover. The Whitsunday Islands National Park walks range from easy to challenging and all traverse tropical rainforest and enjoy spectacular views.  The fringing coral reefs of the islands abound with fish and corals, with each snorkelling site offering a different experience. There could be sharp drop offs, bommies (submerged reef), soft or hard corals, and hundreds of different species of fish across all the fringing reefs.

 

With the islands so close to each other, it is easy to kayak between them to explore the landscapes of the islands and beaches, and kayaks can be hired from businesses on the Whitsunday Coast before your trip. Fishing equipment can also be hired, and there is excellent fishing throughout the Whitsundays for tropical reef and other fish (please check the Fishing Zoning Maps for the Whitsundays before you go fishing).

 

On Water Accommodation

 

While sailing is synonymous with the Whitsundays, it’s a lesser known fact that you can combine a sailing experience with your accommodation, meals and touring all into one. The Whitsundays is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest fleet of skipper yourself and chartered vessels, offering a unique opportunity to combine your accommodation with your sightseeing and sleep out in the calm and protected waters of the Whitsundays. It’s a truly distinct holiday experience that the Whitsundays specialises in - and a must do for anyone who has ever wanted to try their hand at sailing.

 

Do It Yourself

 

Skipper yourself on board a ‘bareboat’ yacht, catamaran or motor cruiser. Although it is an advantage, formal qualifications are not necessary and after a thorough briefing, you’ll be on your way discovering hidden coves and secluded beaches with a new landscape each morning as you wake up .

 

Have It All Done For You

 

Do as much or as little as you like as your crew navigate around the Whitsundays for you. Pull up the sails, take the helm, or simply lie on the deck sipping champagne, as a package sailing holiday offers the unique experience of sailing the Whitsundays with a professional crew. A selection of motor cruisers, classic yachts, tall ships and maxi sailing yachts are available for 1, 2, 3 night or longer tours. The packages include your accommodation on the vessel (from open plan to private, ensuite cabins), meals, snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities and a spectacular tour around the Whitsunday islands and reefs.