Located between Queensland’s north east coast and The Great Barrier Reef lies the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. A tropical island paradise destination, which should be on everyone’s bucket list. Made up of over 74 islands (most of which are uninhabited) and fringed and surrounded by coral reef teeming with marine life, there is plenty to see and do.
The main town for The Whitsunday Islands is Airlie Beach, a holiday destination in itself. You can choose to base yourself at one of the many resorts in Airlie and do day trips out to the islands and reef, stay on one of the island resorts or charter your own private charter yacht and explore the islands all by yourself.
There is so much to see and do in The Whitsundays – sailing, snorkelling, swimming, hiking, fishing, jet skiing, scenic flights, tours and did I mention eating, drinking and relaxing?! We split our time in the Whitsundays between hiring a private charter yacht and staying at a resort in Airlie, so we could get the best of both worlds and truly experience all that The Whitsundays had to offer.
Chartering your own Private Yacht
Hiring your own private charter yacht and sailing the islands of The Whitsundays is one of the best ways to experience the area. Almost anyone can hire a yacht to charter on their own, no boat license is needed however some knowledge of how to sail is required. The best thing about chartering your own yacht is that you get to experience the Whitsundays from the comfort of your own floating apartment. Most of the yachts have a full kitchen, double beds, bathrooms and indoor/outdoor area to relax. You get to watch the sunset and rise from the still waters of the islands many inlets, sleep under the stars and adventure to some of the most incredible and deserted beaches you’ll ever see. You can also choose to hire a skipper if you’d prefer to just kick back and relax and leave all the sailing upto them. We spent three nights out on the yacht, anchoring in some of the most beautiful locations. I’m going to write a separate blog post with a more indepth description of our experience with Queensland Yacht Charters, so keep your eyes peeled.
Where to Stay
There are so many beautiful resorts to choose from in Airlie Beach – we chose to stay at one of the best! Peppers Airlie Beach, which is perched on the hill overlooking the marina and islands and a short walk into the bustling hub of Airlie. They have spacious self-contained apartments – perfect for relaxing where you can cater for yourself or eat at one of the many restaurants in Airlie, including Tides restaurant located at the resort. We spent our days exploring Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays and on our chill out days we spent it relaxing by their horizon pool – cocktail in hand ofcourse.
You can check out Peppers and book your own stay here:
One ‘must do’ when you visit The Whitsundays is to take a scenic flight over The Whitsunday Islands and The Great Barrier Reef. We took a 1hr scenic flight with GSL Aviation, who pick you up from your accommodation and take you to their airstrip for the flight of a lifetime.
From the moment you take off you will be in awe of this magical place, where the flight path takes you above the islands – such as Daydream, Hamilton and Whitsunday Island. The jewel in the crown is a view over Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach, from the ground this place is paradise, but from the air it is even more special. White sand and turquoise waters fill your sight for miles. They fly by twice, so whichever side of the plane you sit on you will get an incredible birds eye view of one of the worlds top 10 beaches.
They then take you to another one of the worlds ‘must see’ places.. “Heart Reef” which is nestled amongst the stunning coral formations of Hardy Reef. Make sure you bring your camera (with full batteries) as you’ll be snapping away in between staring in awe out of the window at one of the world’s true wonders.
Another great way to experience The Whitsundays is by booking a day tour from Airlie Beach. There are many options – from Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, a trip to Hamilton Island where you can spend a whole day exploring the island or a trip out to Hardy Reef for a day of snorkeling.
We took a half day trip out to Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island with Cruise Whitsundays. Where we spent our time swimming and relaxing in the clear waters of Whitehaven Beach and then on the way back we spent a couple of hours exploring Hamilton island, with it’s array of bars, boutiques and restaurants.
Getting to The Whitsundays and Airlie Beach is as easy as booking a flight and an airport transfer. As I’m based in Byron we flew from Brisbane direct to Proserpine (the gateway airport to Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays). With daily flights from most capital cities, there are plenty of flights to choose from.
We booked an airport transfer to and from the airport direct to our accommodation. The crew from Whitsundays to Everywhere are the best in the business. Their staff are super friendly, helpful and full of knowledge to answer all your questions Whitsundays related. I’ve been to the Whitsundays twice now and booked with this company both times and each time has been a breeze.
You can find their details here:
Restaurants & Bars
With so many places in Airlie to eat and drink at (we were there for 2 weeks and tried our best to try a lot of them), it was hard to choose a favourite. Below you will find some recommendations of places we loved:
Tides Restaurant and Bar
The restaurant is located at Peppers Resort Airlie Beach. With a mix of seafood and meat dishes, this restaurant has something for everyone. I had a steak here which was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Well worth a try even if you’re not staying at the resort.
The Boathouse Fishbar
Located in the Port of Airlie right on the marina esplanade, this is a lovely place to grab a cocktail and a bite to eat and stare out at the view. Fresh seafood dishes are their specialty.
Located a 15-20 min drive north of Airlie on a little patch coastline, this place is well worth the drive. It’s big wooden decks overlooking Airlie Beach to the south and out over the islands, it’s the best spot for s sunset drink.
Fish D’vine & The Rum Bar
Known for it’s award winning seafood (get the platter, it’s divine!) and it’s massive selection of Rums (over 450), it’s one of Airlie’s most popular restaurants. I’ve had one of the best Mojito’s I’ve ever tasted here, add it to the list.
Sorrento Restaurant and Bar
We frequented this bar the night before and after our charter yacht adventure. It’s the perfect place for a drink and to get your land legs back after a few days out sailing the islands.
KC’s Bar and Grill
KC’s is best known for it’s live music and chilled out atmosphere.
Mika Live BBQ and Bar
A Brazilian BBQ restaurant, this place is a must if you love meat. We had the Brazilian BBQ experience and it was more than enough food. A great way to taste some of the best cooked meat on the menu.
I hope you enjoyed my Whitsunday Islands Blog post. If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below. It’s a place I will definitely be going back to as soon as possible.
Disclaimer - All words and experiences are my own. All photos in this Blog Post were taken and edited by myself. All opinions are my own, honest and unbiased.