Travel Information

Whitsundays, Australia


Address & Map

Physical Address

Sunsail Whitsundays
6 Bay Terrace
Shute Harbour
Queensland 4802

Mailing Address

Sunsail Whitsundays
PO Box 357
Airlie Beach
Queensland 4802


Shute Harbour is the largest natural harbour on the Eastern seaboard of Australia and the gateway to the mainland Whitsunday region. Approximately 8 km from the township of Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour provides the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Brisbane is 1100 kilometres to the south, while Cairns is 600 kilometres to the north. Sydney is less than two and a half hours away by plane.
For a fee, we can also arrange charter pick-ups and drop-offs at Hayman Island and Shute Harbour on the mainland. This service cannot be booked online, only by ringing +61 7 4948 8250

Base Open Hours

Monday - Sunday: 8:30am – 5:00pm
Closed Christmas and New Years Day.

Base/Shore Facilities

The main base for Sunsail is at Shute Harbour, approximately 8 kilometres from the township of Airlie Beach, the heart of the Whitsundays.

Facilities at the to the base include: Overnight accommodation, Showers, Toilets, Electricity, Wifi, resort style shop, air conditioned reception lounge & ferry terminal. Additional facilities in Airlie Beach are overnight accommodation, Restaurants, Bars, selection of shops, Bank, Post Office, Laundry, marinas, ferry terminals.

Back to top


Arrival & Departure



Proserpine Airport (Whitsunday Coast Airport) is located just 10 kilometres 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 take a taxi or a shuttle bus from the airport to our mainland base at Shute Harbour. There is no additional charge if you wish to start your charter from our Shute Harbour base.

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 [email protected] as these cannot be booked online.

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

Start and finishes at either Hayman Island or Abell Point Marina on the main island may be possible. Please check with your Reservation Consultant directly at the base, by contacting [email protected].


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.

Passports & 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 for the latest information before you leave. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.

Customs and 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.

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.

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.

Out of hour’s arrival procedure

Please contact our reservations staff in relation to after hours requests on +61 7 4948 8250 or [email protected].

On departure

At the end of your charter your yacht will need to be vacated by 1000hrs. 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.

Back to top


Sailing Information

Australia is 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 Licenses

Although no sailing licences are required for cruising in Australia we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on holiday 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.

Cruising Permits & Taxes

There are Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority fees for sailing around the Whitsundays. Marine Park Fees - AU$30.00 per person per charter (which includes an administration fee), payable on check in, if this has not already been included in your invoice.

Night Time Sailing

You are not permitted to sail at night.

Cruising Area Limits

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.

Moorings, Marinas & Fees and Restaurants

Apart from the marinas at Hamilton and Airlie Beach, clients may also moor off many of the 74 islands within the Whitsunday region. Resorts are situated on the following islands:

** as of 1 January 2015 the resort is currently closed for refurbishment

** 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.

Mooring Fee $150 for 24 hours (Australian Dollars)
Most guest activity programs are available and are included in your mooring fee, however there is a chance of a small cost.
Free showers available for use in the transit lounge.

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. $175 access fee for all berthed vessels for the first night, $150 for all subsequent nights (Australian Dollars)

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.

For current berthing rates, please contact the marina directly.

NB. All prices are subject to change.

Area & Sailing

More information on the sailing in this area.

Charts & Pilot Book

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


Your yacht will be provided with a full tank of fuel at the start of your charter and you will be required to pre-pay for your fuel with your holiday balance. If extra fuel is required you will need to return to Hamilton Island or Shute Harbour on the mainland to refill.

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.

Back to top


Banks & Money Exchange



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


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.

Credit Cards

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


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

Back to top


General Information



The official language is English.

Cost of living in Australia

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.

Influenced by a multicultural society, dining out in Australia is a culinary delight with the most varied choice of restaurants available in the world. Good food guides can be found in bookshops and newsagents.


Hamilton Island & 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 holiday essentials.

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


Each of the Whitsunday Islands has a distinctive character of its own. Choose from being pampered in five star luxury to a range of moderate accommodation that caters for singles, couples and families alike. Many island resorts provide babysitting and Kids Clubs.

Please contact your Reservations Team if you would like land based accommodation on either Hamilton Island, Hayman Island or Daydream Island. We are more than happy to prepare a package to suit your party.

Back to top


Electrical, Phones & Music



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.

Mobile phones

You can use a mobile telephone from your home country if you have international roaming options.
Another alternative is to buy a mobile phone with a prepaid SIM card.


All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your IPOD whilst sailing you will need to bring along an I-trip or FM radio transmitter.

Back to top





You can fish in the Whitsundays - no permit is required - there are just some zones where you cannot fish, but we go over this in the briefing your departure. Fishing equipment is available however you will need to confirm availability with the base on arrival.


Diving Equipment – can be hired locally.
The snorkelling 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 hump-backed whales around July to October.

We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own you may wish to bring them with you.
Kayaks & Stand Up Paddleboards

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

Back to top



Sunsail Whitsundays recommend that you provision your yacht in advance so that you can arrive to a fully stocked yacht, ready to set sail. Food and Beverages can be expensive on the islands and why would you want to spend time in a supermarket or local grocery store when you are on vacation?

We highly recommend that you use the services of Whitsunday Provisioning, a local company that has been providing provisions and drinks to Whitsunday vacation makers for over 30 years. They carry a wider range of options than any other online supermarket in the region. Their speciality is in providing complete pre-designed Charter meal packages, that come in three different price ranges and cater for any number of days. These very popular packages have been designed to take the stress out of provisioning for charter

Their Packages start from as little as $28.00 (Australian Dollars) per person and include everything, from your main meals, afternoon snacks, evening chocolates and nibbles. All you have to is state the number of passengers and number of days (or use the partial packages if you plan to eat out as well) and everything else is taken care of! They even have Kids packs.

Thereafter all that is left for you to do is to go to their Beverage section and select your wines, beers and soft drinks. Place your order online and put your feet up - the rest is done and delivered direct to your boat, 7 days a week.

If their Meal Plan Package option isn’t for you, their online supermarket offers a wide range of items to choose from. They also provide a great range of delicious platters, that can be substituted for your first night and a wide range of beverages that offers everything from bottled water through to beer, wine and spirits. And they do it at Mainland prices.

They provide a delivery service 7 days a week to Hamilton Island and deliver in insulated boxes, designed to keep your stores cool and fresh while waiting to be unpacked, so that you will get the freshest produce on time, every time.

Please note, if you use other providers to deliver food and beverages to base, you will need to be present in person to accept the delivery. Our staff are unable to accept these deliveries on your behalf.

Back to top


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.


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 metres while under way. This means in dinghies going to and from a bareboat but not on the boat itself.

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’re partially joking here of course, but, you will find that comfortable, breathable, deck-friendly boat shoes or sandals prevail for your feet! Non-marking boat shoes or sneakers with good slip-resistant treads are recommended.

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.

Back to top

Choose Sunsail

Destinations worldwide

Flotilla routes

Types of yachts

40 yrs
Creating holidays

4 hr
Service guarantee