Australia

Whitsundays essential information

Sailing in Australia

Back to Whitsundays


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.

Plan

Before you go

Physical Address
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 other locations such as, Hayman Island, Hamilton Island and Day Dream 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
Australia

Base hours

Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 5:00pm

Saturday – Sunday: 8:00am – 4:30pm

Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day

Time zone
Australia is UTC-5 hours

Language
The official language in Australia is English.

Cost of living
Prices vary between areas and from restaurant to restaurant, however the following is a guide for reference:

  • A bottle of wine costs about AUD$14 (£6) in a supermarket and from AUD$24 (£10) in a restaurant.
  • A bottle of beer costs about AUD$3.6 (£1.50).
  • A cheap snack can be bought for about AUD$7 (£3). A three course meal is likely to cost over AUD$48 (£20) per head.

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 http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country.html 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 licenses
Although no sailing licenses 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 Resume 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

Coolers

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. 

Drone
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

Electricity
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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Sail

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 and Gas), payable on check in, if this has not already been included in your invoice.

Moorings fees + taxes

Hamilton Island Marina, Coral Sea Marina and Day Dream Island will have their own set fees, subject to availability.  Other moorings around the islands are free of charge.

Long Island Resort (Happy Bay)
Tel: 07 4946 9400
VHF Channel 16 or 11

Hook Island Observatory
Tel: 07 4946 9380
VHF Channel 16 or 74

Moorings are not surveyed or available to the public currently. You are able to anchor out the front of the resort. Please refer to your charts for more details. The resort and observatory are closed to the public. There is no ice available. Several small bush walks, beaches and snorkelling is available to the public.

South Molle Island (Koala Adventure Island)
Tel: 07 4946 9433
VHF Channel 16 or 74

No public resort facilities are available. You can however access the island's national park bush walks by anchoring in Bauer Bay and accessing the beach with your tender.

Daydream Island
Tel: 07 4948 8488
VHF Channel 17

Mooring fee is $25AUD per hour or $125AUD full day (over 6 hours).  Most guest activity programs are available and are included in your mooring fee, however there is a chance of a small cost. 

Hayman Island
Tel: 07 4940 1822
VHF Channels 6 or 16

Resort guests are permitted only. Overnight berths not available unless accommodating at the resort. It is important to notify Hayman Island in advance if you wish to spend the night at their resort facility. There is an AUD 175 access fee for all berthed vessels for the first night, AUD 150 for all subsequent nights

Lindeman Island
There are a number of mooring bays surrounding the island (away from the old resort) and beaches that are accessible.

However, the old resort is off limits as there are several safety and liability issues with some areas being hazardous. Signs are installed for your safety.

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.



NB. All prices are subject to change.

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.

Safety 
All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets harnesses we leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn. 

*Please note: New regulations in Queensland require all children under 12 to wear a lifejacket on open boats less than 4.8 meters while under way. This means in dinghies going to and from a bareboat but not on the boat itself.

Swim Safe 
For your safety and for environmental reasons, the feeding of fish is not ALLOWED and may be prohibited in some destinations.

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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Shop

Around the base

Hotels

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.

Currency

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.

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

Traveler’s checks, especially in foreign currencies, are generally NOT accepted except by hotels and big stores and tourist shops. These display a 'traveler’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.

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

Choose Sunsail

20+
Stunning sailing destinations 
14
Flotilla routes
48
Types of yachts
44 yrs
Creating vacations
4 hr
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