This is one of the most popular travel destinations in Queensland thanks mainly to the Great Barrier Reef and tropical Islands. The memories will last your lifetime. I was lucky enough to grow up in the Whitsundays and have seen the changes take place as the Tourism Industry has developed.
There are two airports which service the Whitsundays. The first is located near the town of Proserpine. This is about 40 minutes’ drive to Airlie Beach. Whitsunday Transit offers transfers for $20 one way and they will pick you up at the airport. Check out their timetable here.
The second airport is located on tropical Hamilton Island. From here, you will need to catch a ferry to Airlie Beach. When you arrive at Airlie Beach, there are numerous accommodation providers from camping, hostels and hotels.
With 72 islands in the region, it is an ideal location for Sailing Trips. There are a few boats to choose from however. Some boats are party boats where some are more targeted towards couples. Two companies look after most of the boats in the region. The first is Whitsunday Sailing Adventures. They usually cater for people who prefer less people on the boats and more in line with diving and other water based activities. Click here to find out more on the options.
The second company is Explore Whitsundays. The clients found on these boats are usually between 18 and 40ish. They are considered more of a party boat with up to 28 guests sharing the intimate space. However, they do offer a few options for smaller boat sizes. Click here to find out more on the options.
The summer months can get quite busy with travellers making their way to the Whitsundays, so I would recommend booking at least a couple of weeks in advance if you know the dates you would like to sail on.
The second main reason people come to North Queensland is to visit the Great Barrier Reef. With only a few locations offering trips to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays offer a great opportunity. Cruise Whitsundays offer day trips along with overnight trips called the ‘Reef Sleep’. A day trip costs $230 and includes a buffet lunch, free use of snorkelling equipment and semi-submersible tours. The overnight option starts from $425 for a 2 day/1 night trip and can either allow you to sleep on the deck in a ‘swag’ or a double room. The overnight trip will give you the most time at the reef and allow you to see millions of stars without any light pollution. Find out more information here.
Airlie Beach has made the transformation from a backwater local town hidden in valley of the Conway National Park to the centre of tourism it is today. The deep rainforest on the surrounding hills has made way for hotels and houses. The pebble beach was turned into a manmade lagoon which can be swum in all year round. And the quiet main street has become a busy thorough fare for cars and pedestrians. Apart from lazing near the lagoon and strolling down the main street, there is not too much to do during the day in Airlie Beach. The bars and night clubs come to life each night, thanks to all the sailing trip guests coming in to tell about their tales of the high sea.
Airlie Beach does offer a couple of other trips which could make the trip a bit more exciting. The first is to take in a local bush track. Catch the bus out towards Shute Harbour and stop off at a walking trail that leads you to Swap Bay. Although the name doesn’t sound inviting, the 2 km walk to an isolated beach will be worth the effort. Another option is to take a trip down the Proserpine River in search of the local Saltwater Crocodiles. For $129, you can enjoy a river cruise, fresh bush tucker and a tractor journey over the Gorganga plains. For more information on the Crocodile Safaris click here.
If you have a little extra money and don’t want to spend your time there on the mainland, you can head to one of the resorts located on a few of the islands.
South Molle Island
Or feel free to camp on one of the island. Click here to find out more.
If you only have a couple of days in Airlie Beach and one of those is taken up by the Reef trip, you can take a day cruise to see some of the islands and fringing reef. Not to mention the world famous Whitehaven Beach, a must on during your stay. Ocean Rafting offers two unique adventures which will take you to some top snorkelling spots as well as lunch at Whitehaven Beach. It is also the fastest boat to get out to the beach. I highly recommend these guys as I have travelled a couple of times with them without any disappointment. Check out more information here.
Enjoy your time and don’t forget to relax. Contact me if you have any other questions.