The Whitsundays are a picture-perfect archipelago of 74 islands. Most are uninhabited, but a handful have been sensitively developed into resorts, offering a range of accommodation from family-friendly resorts to the most exclusive hideaways. Daydream Island is one of the closest to the mainland, with one of the world’s largest man-made living coral reef lagoons, while Hayman Island is just 400 acres in size.
Often described as one of the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island boasts pure white silica sand and stretches for over four miles. At Hill Inlet at the northern end of the beach, the clear turquoise waters swirl with the silica sand to create a breathtaking pattern that’s quite remarkable. Walk up to the lookout at Tongue Point for views of Hill Inlet – make sure it’s at low tide for the best experience.
As the Great Barrier Reef’s largest inhabited island, Hamilton Island offers a wealth of activities, including day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, golf, and food and wine experiences. With over 40 different activities, you can do everything – including nothing at all. Buggies are the main mode of transport and are available for hire and there is also an island shuttle service. Direct flights operate from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Alternatively, take a 35-minute ferry crossing from Shute Harbour in Airlie Beach.
Best known as a departure point for the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, pretty Airlie Beach has a lovely relaxed atmosphere, excellent restaurants, a live music scene and a wonderful artificial oceanfront lagoon (local beaches are small and not recommended for swimming). Most boats to the Whitsundays depart from Shute Harbour, while flights to Hamilton Island (and seaplane trips) depart from Proserpine (Whitsunday Coast) airport.