Whitsundays Destination Guide
Comprised of 74 islands that are sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are home to some of the finest beaches in Australia, if not the world. The region boasts typically beautiful Queensland sunshine, ultra-tranquil waters, uninhabited bushland and a huge range of activities, restaurants and resorts.
Whether you’re visiting the Whitsundays on a limited budget or splurging on a luxurious getaway, you’re bound to uncover a tropical paradise that makes for an idyllic sampling of island life.
Of the countless beautiful beaches scattered throughout the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is a standout slice of paradise. Its pure white sands are complemented by the calmest of turquoise waters, making it the most popular island to visit. Ultra-luxurious Hayman Island offers the pinnacle of island resort living, as well as great walking opportunities against a backdrop of breathtaking views.
Situated on the mainland, Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays and is a popular place for youngsters and young families. Outdoor adventurists should make a beeline for Lindeman Island, Conway National Park or South Molle Island to explore quintessential Aussie bushland complemented by stunning ocean views.
Scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities in the Whitsundays are considered some of the best in the world, as its shores are spread through the majestic Coral Sea that is home to tens of thousands of species of fish, coral, turtles and dolphins. Once you’ve dried off, take the time to explore the Ngaro Cultural Site located on Hook Island to immerse yourself in the stories and history of the Ngaro people who have called the Whitsundays home for over 9,000 years.
If your ideal island getaway includes dining on succulent seafood, the Whitsundays won’t disappoint. The region boasts some of the highest quality seafood and freshest catches in Australia, so come prepared to salivate over the best seafood platters you’ve ever seen. For sushi, seafood, burgers and more, head to Shute Harbour Road in Airlie Beach for an extensive choice of cafés, bars and restaurants.
If you fancy sampling some upscale dishes on the islands, Hayman Island is the place to head for fine dining and lavish cocktails. Hamilton Island offers a great range of restaurant options, including modern Australian and Southeast Asian, and is home to exclusive hotel restaurants and relaxed beachfront bars.
Keen to experience some island nightlife? Airlie Beach is the thriving party hub of the Whitsundays and is known for its vibrant bars and clubs.
Whether you want to relax into island life or stay in the thick of things, there’s accommodation to suit your preferred pace in the Whitsundays. Hayman Island and Hamilton Island provide the best in opulent resort-style living. Airlie Beach is a great base for those keen to explore other islands of the region on daytrips or overnight stays.
Long Island boasts laid-back atmosphere in abundance, and is ideal if you want a chilled-out beachside holiday complete with swaying palm trees. Those looking for a coastal camping holiday can pitch a tent at Hook Island’s Maureen’s Cove, Curlew Beach or Crayfish Beach.
As well as jaw-dropping scenery and a thriving restaurant scene, the Whitsundays also offer up some true Aussie shopping gems. The markets in Airlie Beach are a wonderful weekend experience, as each Saturday the foreshore plays host to stalls selling local produce, handicrafts and a range of fashions.
Nearby Proserpine is quickly emerging as a boutique shopping destination with independent fashion and homewares stores galore. Marina Village on Hamilton Island covers you for all your day-to-day essentials and boasts a beautiful selection of local art.
Whitsundays Like a Local
If you want to soak up the Whitsundays like a local, head to the charming seaside town of Bowen situated on the Whitsunday Coast. The town is home to beautiful bays, palm-fringed beaches and serves up something a little more authentic than the tourist-oriented islands. Bowen’s picturesque hinterland contrasting with the clear blue waters on the coast showcases the diversity of Australia’s landscape perfectly.