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 History



Our History

David Hudson Kuku Yalanji elder Credit: Courtesy of Tourism Queensland


Believed to be the world’s oldest civilization, Aboriginal people have lived and thrived on this continent for more than 50,000 years. They were the first society to grind edges on stone cutting tools and the first to use stone tools to grind seeds; everyday tools developed much later by other societies.


The Ngaro People (meaning “miss”, “can’t see” or “vanishing” in Maori and Tahitian), were a seafaring Australian Aboriginal group of people that inhabited the Whitsunday islands and coastal regions of Queensland from at least 7000 BC until 1870.


Over thousands of years until 4000 BC the sea level rose several metres and the coastline moved inland more than 100 miles, from beyond the Great Barrier Reef. This has left the ancient inland mountain tops as the islands of the Whitsundays. The prehistoric coastal plains known by the Ngaro would have been near what we now call the Great Barrier Reef. The earliest archaeological evidence of the Ngaro people has been found on Hook Island where two inlets protected by steep cliffs would have provided shelter for Ngaro canoes. Near the Aboriginal caves, still visible in the steep slopes of Nara Inlet, are mounds of oyster-like shells discarded by the Ngaro thousands of years ago. The shells do not resemble the modern oysters and clam species presently found on the coast, attesting to their age. Though much about the lifestyle of the Ngaro has vanished with the rising sea level and demise of their settlements and campsites, the cave paintings shown at the Hook Island caves remain as evidence of their presence and their humanity.




There are several certification programs that accommodation providers and tour operators can undertake that assure you they are a legitimate and proactive operator.


Eco Certification

Australia’s Eco Certification program recognises tourism operators who provide genuine environmentally friendly tours, attraction and accommodation products. Operators are assessed on their economic, environmental and social sustainability and ecotourism principles such as business ethics, responsible marketing, contribution to conservation and working with communities. There are three levels of accreditation available: Nature Tourism, Ecotourism and Advanced Ecotourism. Look for the logos with the operators you are considering.



The Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association issues a ‘tick’ logo to its members, who must satisfy a number of crew training and safety standards in order to qualify. Go to for more information.


Whitsundays Tourism Members

Businesses who are partners of Whitsundays Marketing and Development must sign a Code of Conduct ensuring they operate ethically and fairly within our local tourism industry. A directory of Whitsundays Marketing and Development partners can be found at


Whitsundays Tourism Awards

Whitsundays Marketing and Development also coordinates the annual Whitsunday Tourism Awards. Winners and finalists of these awards have displayed exemplary business practices from business planning, marketing, innovation, environmental sustainability and business operations.