The Whitsundays, Australia

The Whitsundays, Australia Yacht Charter & Sailing Holiday

Inspiring Itineraries

The Whitsundays, Australia

Whitsundays one-week bareboat

Bays, reefs and wildlife Visit one of the world’s most beautiful, unspoilt destinations on a sailing vacation around Australia’s Whitsunday Islands. Charter your own yacht and explore a world of bright white beaches and clear blue skies, deserted anchorages and vibrant coral reefs. You’ll discover 9,000-year-old island heritage, dive and snorkel with graceful turtles, rays and giant wrasse, and relax on three-mile stretches of clean, quiet beach. Explore your own desert island paradise on a Whitsundays bareboat charter vacation.  

Highlights

  • Big game fishing
  •  Hill Inlet Lookout photography
  •  Snorkelling one of the many fringing reefs
  •  Turtle and Dugong spotting
  •  Relaxing on Whitehaven Beach
Where is the best place to sail from the Whitsunday Islands?

The Whitsunday Islands are a serene group of islands featuring expansive white-sand beaches, surrounded by stretches of crystal clear shallows and dense forestry. They are located off the East Coast of Australia – close to Airlie Beach, QSL.  The Whitsundays provide spectacular views above and below the water line, with opportunities for scuba diving, camping experiences, and scenic park trails. 

For Families

The Whitsundays are a wonderful place to explore with children – the sand is powder-soft, the Coral Sea surrounding the islands is luke-warm and teeming with life, and, for many areas on the islands, the water stays shallow for very long stretches. Our top beaches for families are listed below:

  • Tongue Bay – this area is like a dream, with warm shallows that stretch out and are perfect for kids to play in.
  • Whitehaven beach – you will be hard pressed to find any situation in which this beach, a slice of paradise, is not recommended. The sand on Whitehaven beach has such a high concentration of Silica that it never gets too hot – perfect for protecting your babies feet!
  • Hamilton Island is hailed as the family-friendly hub of the Whitsundays, with kids clubs, incredible wildlife tours, pools which overlook the ocean (such as Bougainvillea Pool, by Catseye Beach) and more. 

For Couples

  • Whitehaven beach is a truly spectacular beach on Whitsunday Island, from here you can go on water-plane trips over the Heart Reef, thoroughly unwind on the softest sand (tip: the silica content of the sand makes this a great place to polish your jewellery!) 
  • Langford Island and Stonehaven Bay, on Hook Island are tethered by a golden sand bridge, this location is perfect for a romantic picnic or to relax and watch a spectacular sunset. 
  • From Cid Harbour you can make the pleasant walk to Dugong Beach, keeping an eye out for the animal that this beach is named after (the Dugong, or, Sea-Cow).

For First-Time Sailors

The Whitsundays are a great introduction to sailing for novice sailors or those who are after a more gentle tide. To Charter a Yacht in The Whitsundays with Sunsail, we require you to meet our level 1 experience. If you have very little sailing experience and wish to improve/ be certified to charter a yacht here, we recommend looking into our Sailing Schools. Equally, if you wish to experience The Whitsundays from the privacy of your own yacht but aren’t keen on sailing yourself – we recommend looking into Hiring A Skipper for your trip.

For Large GroupsAirlie Beach is on the mainland and is where most Whitsunday Charters start, this town has great nightlife, wonderful restaurants and is a place for large groups wanting to set sail around the Whitsundays.

What are the best things to do in The Whitsunday Islands?

There’s a load on offer while exploring the Whitsundays. This archipelago is in the centre of the Great Barrier Reef and has a plethora of dive sites, viewpoints, relaxation spots and more. 

Our 1 week bareboat itinerary is a great way to explore the islands, however, we have summarised our favourite spots to help you plan your trip, below.

Relaxing

The Whitsunday Islands feel as if they have been specially designed for relaxation. They ooze peace and serenity. Even the busier, more touristy beaches (such as Whitehaven) are quite the escape. Other areas we recommend for peace and tranquillity include:

  • Tongue Bay: not only is this a breath-takingly beautiful beach, but it is also where scenes for the movies Fool’s Gold and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, were filmed.
  • Butterfly Bay: this part of Hook Island is known for its population of butterflies – as its name suggests. However, there is also the opportunity to see remarkable marine life (such as giant manta rays) from either your yacht or from under the waves. 
  • Border Island: this uninhabited island offers sanctuary to rare bush orchids, is framed by spectacular coral reefs and – if you fancy a hike – provides panoramic views from the hilltops… just be sure to pack enough water and sun cream if you do decide to hit the trails!

Exploring

Many areas of the Whitsundays offer luscious jungle to explore with spectacular viewpoints, protected dive sites and unique biodiversity. Our top spots to explore are: 

  • Stonehaven Bay – Climb the hills and look out for their creature of legend, a tadpole-looking sea-monster similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster.
  • Nara Inlet: explore the Ngaro Sea Trail cultural site, admire stunning cave art from the Aboriginal people who once lived here; or enjoy a peaceful swim and snorkel in the calm island waters.
  • Long Island: Home to Molle National Park, this lush rainforest island is home to  211 identified animal species, including Australia’s beloved Koala, as well as extensive hiking and cycling trails. 

Eating and Drinking

There are a few eateries scattered across the Islands, however, Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach are the two main hubs for restaurants and bars. Below we have summarised our top spots:

  • Inkstone Kitchen And Bar, Daydream island. The perfect spot for a great-tasting bar and grill dinner (or lunch!) – be sure to book in advance if possible. 
  • Beach Club Restaurant, Hamilton Island, is a  romantic, ocean-side setting, with exquisite meals and excellent service.
  • Pebble Beach, Hamilton Island, boasts a stunning view (especially at sunset)
  • Sorrento, Airlie Beach. A stones-throw from the marina, this restaurant offers fresh seafood, pizza and other holiday favourites (such as a caesar salad and cocktails!)

Underwater Adventures

As the Whitsundays are part of The Great Barrier Reef, most areas are protected and teeming with life – making for some of the best underwater experiences in the world. With this being said, our favourite dive spots around The Whitsundays are:

  • Hook Island: some of the most spectacular coral reef preservations on the Great Barrier Reef are found here, as well as coves.
  • Border Island: The fringing reef of Cateran Bay is a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelling.
  • Whitehaven beach: Not only is this beach beautiful, it’s the perfect playing ground for children and new snorkelers – with crystal clear visibility, gentle currents and stunning marine life, even in the shallows.
  • Butterfly Bay: The perfect intermediate spot for snorkelling if you’re after corals and marine life with a kaleidoscope of colours. 

When entering the ocean in The Whitsundays and surrounding areas, we highly recommend wearing wetsuits to avoid any jellyfish stings (and sunburns!)

When is the best time to visit The Whitsunday Islands?

September, October and November offer less crowds, moderate temperatures and less Jellyfish to contend with. 

If you decide to visit The Whitsundays between June and September you may be lucky enough to witness Humpback Whales on their migration. January – March are the hottest, but also the wettest months of the year: the heavy rainfall can cause dramatic storms, flooring and cause lower-clarity when diving.

What are the sailing conditions in The Whitsundays?

The Whitsunday islands are a level 1 sailing experience, the tides gentle and wind forgiving. It is a great option for novice sailors. For more information on dominant wind and average wind speeds, check our Whitsundays Sailing Conditions Tab.

How much does it cost to charter a yacht around The Whitsundays?

The cost of a Yacht Charter around the Whitsundays can fluctuate depending on the time of year, charter length, where you fly from and what you do on your holiday. 
For a quote, please contact us and speak with one of our many wonderful holiday planners.

How much are the moorings fees in The Whitsundays?

Marine Park Fees start at AU$34 and the mooring fees in the Whitsundays depend on location: Hamilton Island Marina, Coral Sea Marina and Daydream Island will have their own set fees. The other islands are free of charge to moor. For more information check our Whitsunday Essential Information or speak with your holiday planner.

From the Sailing Blog

What Guests are Saying

The Whitsundays, Australia

Dubrovnik was a great operation, well organised, well equipped and maintained yachts and a superb sailing area. As always, I think it’s the lead boat crew that really make the holiday – professional, knowledgable, helpful and friendly with great briefings and organisation.

Colin Battle Dubrovnik

Very good quality boats. Good lead crew on the flotilla. Customer service pre-trip was very clear

Ray Coyle Lefkas

Can speak easily to an advisor

Nigel Jones Dubrovnik

Plan Your Dream Vacation