Whitsunday Travel Information & Planning Guide

Whitsunday Travel Information & Planning Guide

Base Location
Shutte Harbour

Nearest Airport
Proserpine Airport

Provisioning Service
Online Provisioning 
Store not Available

Cruising Licences
A formal licence 
is not required

Find everything you need to prepare for a charter in Whitsundays. From important base information to required documents for international travel, you can use this information as your guide before and during your charter. Don’t forget to pack a copy to take with you.


Before you go


Sunsail Whitsundays 

6 Bay Terrace 

Shute Harbour 

Queensland 4802


Please note that this base is operated by one of our Franchise partners.

Our Whitsundays base is located in Shute Harbour, the largest natural harbour on the Eastern seaboard of Australia. Situated about five miles from the township of Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Brisbane is about 680 miles to the south, while Cairns is about 375 miles to the north. Sydney is less than two and a half hours away by plane.

We can also arrange charter pick-ups and drop-offs at Hamilton Island (for a fee). This service cannot be booked online, please phone the Whitsundays office to organise +617 4948 8250

Mailing address
Sunsail Whitsundays
PO Box 357
Airlie Beach
Queensland 4802

Base hours

Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 5:00pm

Saturday – Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day

Time zone
Australia is UTC+10 hours

The official language in Australia is English.

What to bring

Passport and visas
You must have a valid passport when you travel to Australia. Please ensure that your passport is valid for up to six months beyond your scheduled stay. Nearly all persons need a Tourist Visa or an Electronic Travel Authority to enter Australia (except for residents of New Zealand), although there is no charge for a stay of 3 months or less. We do advise clients to check with immigration in any case.

Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check Foreign travel advice – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for the latest information before you leave. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.

Customs + immigration
Before leaving the airport, you will have to clear Immigration and Customs.

A landing card will be given to you on the plane, along with a Customs declaration form. Airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles, e.g. food, which may also be confiscated by Customs.

Departure tax out of Australia is AUD$30 plus AUD$3.20 Noise Tax per person, payable at the airport.

Sailing licences
Although no sailing licences are required for cruising in Australia we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on vacation with you. This may be useful should you be contacted by Customs or Port Police. If you have not already done so then the Skipper and 1st Mate will be required to fill in a Sailing CV to confirm that you have the necessary skills for sailing in this region.

Luggage + packing list
We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally luggage may arrive at the base after you do!

Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht.

What’s on board


Cell phones
You can use a cell telephone from your home country if you have international roaming options.

Another alternative is to buy a cell phone with a prepaid SIM card.

Music + iPods
Most boats are fitted with a radio, CD Player, USB or AUX input.  Please phone the base on +617 4948 8250 to check your vessel’s capabilities. 

The use of flying drones may be restricted in some areas. For current drone regulations in this destination, please visit https://www.casa.gov.au/aircraft/landing-page/flying-drones-australia

The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts (cigarette lighter-type outlet). To keep your electronic devices charged while on board (such as your cell phone, digital camera etc. An inverter is available onboard.

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How to get there

Proserpine Airport (Whitsunday Coast Airport) is located just 10 kilometers out of Proserpine. Proserpine Airport has flight connections daily from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and is a modern and comfortably terminal with a kiosk for food and beverages. The transfer from the airport to Airlie Beach/ Shute Harbour is around 50 minutes by car/ bus.

Alternatively, you can fly directly into Hamilton Island and as no international flights fly direct to Hamilton Island Airport, you will clear customs at one of the major international airports, before your domestic flight to Hamilton Island. Bright and modern, Hamilton Island Airport has a comfortable departure terminal with plenty of passenger seating. There is an airport bar, cafe and small shop to purchase snacks and magazines

Shute Harbour 

Sunsail guests can organise a taxi or shuttle bus from the Whitsunday Coastal Airport located in Proserpine to our charter base on the mainland in Shute Harbour.  There are no additional fees to start or finish your charter at this location.

Hamilton Island

For a fee, Sunsail guests are able to start and finish their yacht charter from Hamilton Island, if you are staying their prior and afterwards. Your Sunsail Boat Briefer will meet you at Hamilton Island Marina, and will be there for you when you return. Pick-up, drop-off and one-way charters are strictly subject to availability at the time of booking, and do incur extra charges. Please check with your Reservation Consultant directly at the base, by contacting sales@sunsailwhitsundays.com.au as these cannot be booked online.

Please note: Both start base options offer water, fuel, and showers. Provisioning ordered through local companies can be dropped to both locations. 

Alternative locations such as, Hayman Island, Day Dream Island and Coral Sea Marina Resort (mainland) may be possible on request.  Please check with your Reservations Consultant directly at the base, by contacting sales@sunsailwhitsundays.com.au 

Boarding time + checking out

On arrival
Your yacht will be ready at 1200 hrs for boarding.

All boats are prepared as per the booking for boarding time. Everyone will receive an individual yacht and chart/area briefing. This will take 3-4 hours depending on your experience level, so they need to allow plenty of time. It is not permitted to leave without adequate briefing.

These are carried out individually for each yacht and are mandatory. The chart brief describes the cruising area and any potential hazards. The yacht briefing introduces you to your yacht and its systems and rigging. It is important that all systems and equipment are fully understood.

Out of hours
Please contact our reservations staff in relation to after hours requests on +61 7 4948 8250 or reservations@sunsailwhitsundays.com.au.

On departure
At the end of your charter your yacht will need to be vacated by 10am. Before departing your boat you will be provided with a debrief form for completion.

The debrief form is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip, this enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.

In addition to filling in forms we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and fridges of food and throw away, return any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to Sunsail in a clean and tidy state. We reserve the right to charge for boats left less than shipshape.

Security credit card imprint
On arrival at the Whitsunday base, you will be requested to sign a credit card authority form before setting off on charter. 

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About the marina

Marina facilities

Sunsail Whitsundays private Jetty is located in Shute Harbour.  The facilities which surround are: Showers, toilets, wireless interest access, resort style shop, air-conditioned and reception lounge.  Additional facilities in Airlie Beach include overnight accommodation, restaurants, bars, a selection of shops, a bank, post office, laundry, marinas and ferry terminals.

Sailing licenses

Experience level
Sailing experience: Level 1

Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area. Follow the link for more information on the sailing conditions.

Sailing grounds

Sailing area restrictions
In the Whitsundays, clients can sail as far north as the northernmost tip of Hayman Island and the Southern tip of Shaw Island. The outer limit is 5 nautical miles from the most eastern of the Islands (25 miles from the mainland). Due to Government regulations, it is not possible for charter vessels to sail to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. However, there are lots of alternative methods of getting there.

Night sailing
You are not permitted to sail at night.

Charts + pilot books
All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht.

Cruising permits + taxes

There are Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority fees for sailing around the Whitsundays.  Marine Park Fees – AU$34.00 per person per charter (which includes an administration fee), payable on check in, if this has not already been included in your invoice.

Moorings fees + taxes

Hamilton Island Marina, Coral Sea Marina and (Airlie Beach) and Palm Bay Resort (Long Island) will have their own set fees, subject to availability.  Other moorings around the islands are free of charge.

Hayman Island

Resort guests are permitted only. Overnight berths not available unless accommodating at the resort.

Coral Sea Marina & Resort
Tel: 07 4946 2400
VHF Channel 9

For current berthing rates, please contact the marina directly. All prices are subject to change.

Hamilton Island Marina 

Tel: 07 4946 8353 

VHF Channel 68 

Overnight berthing fees: Catamaran =$210AUD, Monohull = $160AUD 

Palm Bay Resort, Long Island 

Tel: 1300 655 126 

Swing moorings are available outside the resort 

Resort access is only available to those aged over 16 years. (no children under 16) 

To book, please contact the resort directly. 

Hire a sail guide or host
You can add either a sail guide or host by contacting the base once you have booked your charter. A cabin must be provided for them individually, please consider this when selecting your yacht.

Health + safety

Illness or injury 
If you are taken ill and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip contact a member of Sunsail staff as soon as possible.

Swim Safe 

Swimming is often a fun and important part of a holiday. However local rules, flag systems, currents and where swimming may be permitted, can be different and vary from country to country. 


Be aware of your surroundings

Look out for others

Do not overestimate your ability


All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets, harnesses, snorkel vests & diver down flags. You can see all this equipment demonstrated in our online safety briefing, and we strongly recommend that you make use this equipment during your holiday. This safety equipment will be displayed in the saloon of your boat on boarding – If you have any questions feel free to ask our base staff during your briefing. 

We have a very limited supply of children’s life jackets on base so highly recommend that if you are travelling with children, you bring their own. This ensures that children have correctly fitting jackets that are comfortable for them.  

Children should not be allowed in the dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and should wear a buoyancy aid or harness whilst on deck. 

Children under the age of 16 should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy. Don’t forget to bring
• Sunscreen and Chap Stick.
• Sailing gloves to protect your hands. Some sailors use sailing gloves (fingerless, Velcro closure, somewhat water permeable), some do not…whatever your preference is fine.
• Hat or visor: Bring both, bring many!
• Something to help shield your eyes from the sun or just to keep long locks from blocking your view, is a great idea.
• Sunglasses and retainer: same as above – a spare pair never hurts. The benefits of polarized eyewear cannot be emphasized enough – nothing protects better against sun-glare on the water, especially when determining below surface conditions for piloting or anchoring.

What not to bring
Hard lined luggage: aside from a sturdy travel case for your camera or electronics, we highly recommend duffel bags or soft-shelled, collapsible luggage. Your yacht is equipped with numerous well thought out storage areas, yet the chances that your hard-sided suitcase dimensions will fit in the lockers and cabinets aboard are slim.

Tanning oil is fine for the beach, but very dangerous aboard. It’s easily left on handholds and steps and is almost a guarantee to slipping or losing one’s footing underway and at anchor.

High heels and work boots: we recommend non-marking boat shoes or sneakers with good slip-resistant treads. You will find that comfortable, breathable, deck-friendly boat shoes or sandals are the most comfortable for your feet.

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Whitsundsy Provisioning

Make provisioning easy, choose out of two of our providers

Alternatively, you can cater yourself through one of our Major Super Markets: (please note that if you use the below providers you will be required to be present at the time of delivery)


Whether you are beginning your charter from the mainland or on Hamilton island, there is a variety of restaurants to eat at before or after your charter holiday.  Whilst on charter we recommend you provision for the full duration as the islands do not have restaurants or bars on them.

No service charge applies in Australia. Tipping is not mandatory but a 10 percent tip in restaurants and hotel bars is normal for good service.

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Around the base


If you intend on having a mini holiday on land before or after your sailing holiday, Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and Hamilton Island can accommodate you.  Choose from being pampered in five star luxury to a range of moderate accommodation that caters for singles, couples and families. You can also find accommodation on Day Dream Island and Hayman Island.  Talk to our reservations specialists for more information.


The currency throughout Australia is the Australian dollar (AUS$).

Credit card information
All major credit cards are widely accepted and there is currently no purchase tax.

There is a bank and post office located at Hamilton Island Marina or in Airlie Beach on the mainland.

Traveller’s checks, especially in foreign currencies, are generally NOT accepted except by hotels and big stores and tourist shops. These display a ‘traveller’s checks welcome’ sign. Cash your checks at a bank or Bureau de Change to ensure you have enough spending money. The same holds true for foreign currency, which is not generally accepted by Australian businesses and shops.

Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach have good shopping precincts catering for all tastes and supplying all manner of merchandise. Hamilton Islands’ bakery is just one of the islands famous eateries, producing mouth-watering pastry products. Other Island resorts cater for visitors shopping needs with outlets providing clothing, footwear, food, souvenirs and other vacation essentials.

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Things to do

Car rental
The major car rental companies including Avis, Hertz and Europocar are all available.

Water toys + sports

Diving equipment can be hired locally.

The snorkeling and diving are fantastic throughout the Islands, with clear blue water, and masses of tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, and so on. Butterfly Bay on the north tip of Hook Island is particularly well known for its abundance of sea life. In addition to all of this, there is an annual migration of humpbacked whales around July to October.

We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. If you require childrens masks, let our reservations team know and we will organise accordingly.

You can fish in the Whitsundays without a permit, although there are some zones you cannot fish. We go over these in details in your briefing. Fishing equipment is available, however you will need to confirm availability with the base on arrival. 

Kayaks and stand up paddleboards
Kayaks and Stand Up Paddleboards are available for hire on charter. Clients must contact the base directly to reserve. 

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For more information on what’s included on your yacht, please view the full list here.

Sailing conditions

Max temp 
50 (°F)
Min temp
Avg precipitation
Avg wind speed
Dominant wind direction
Hamilton Island/Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

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