Very ecstatic to have Whitsunday Islands as my 10th travel post!
Whitsunday Islands IS the most beautiful place I have ever been and very happy I went out of my way to get here. Like, reallyy out of my way and will share some tips about this dreamy destination.
After doing a lot of research/putting an instagram poll up of if I should add 4 days to Sydney or go to Whitsunday- I decided to go and had a lot more to the travel details. If you are between this predicament, do Whitsunday- you won’t regret it. It’s less than a 2 hour flight one way and brings you right into Hamilton Island.
Two ways to get to Whitsunday Islands.. By boat or fly directly into Hamilton Island. There are 74 Whitsunday Islands. Hamilton Island is pretty much the only one you can stay on but don’t worry- they actually have a good amount of options for everything! Actives, food or laying by the beach.
Boat: Leave from Airline Beach Port.
Read—This got interesting; I looked the day before on this website and it would not allow me to purchase less than 24 hours prior, I arrived 45 minutes before just incase to get the ticket. If you are going during busier times or just incase, either buy the ticket before hand or wait until you get there- just arrive early. You can totally bring your luggage on and it’s normal, a lot of people travel from Airline Beach over to the Islands; there is 2 levels to the boat, go above and look at the views!
It takes about 1 hour by boat.
Flight: into Hamilton Island Airport, very small airport and not much food options so don’t go expecting to eat before the flight. The flight was actually really affordable ($200-$250 USD round trip including the bags)
If I would do it differently, I wouldn’t of minded 1 night at Airline Beach- 2 days is plenty. Its a cute town! There is rainforest surrounding as well. Be mindful again of the season, it’s tropical and when it rains.. it pours. Unsure if the boats still run so again, flight is likely the easiest but would be flying in from Sydney or Cairns.
Does this picture below look a little familiar? Well if you are a Pirates of the Caribbean fan- Dead Men Tell no Tales Movie was filmed here. Was just about entirely filmed in Queensland, Australia, in locations such as Moreton Bay, Hastings Point, Maudsland, Southport, Mount Tamborine and the Whitsunday Islands was the big one!
Hotel stay: Whitsunday Apartments
Arriving off the ferry, don’t be nervous- they have little carts or van who will come pick you up. A bus comes every 15 minutes down or less to the marina area where all the tours are and boat arrivals. Schedule runs until 10pm or a bit later, they will sometimes pick up on the other side of the street so don’t think it’s leaving without you!
Room/stay: Absolutely beautiful, breathtaking and highly recommend treating this as a truly tropical island getaway. The beach in front of all the balconies constantly changes. Even with the clouds rolling in, tide coming in/out, take a lot of shots of all the different views ;)
Absolutely loved the full kitchen, nice bathroom, all pretty well updated but they did have construction (went in March) and they are adding another pool below. Pop in headphones if you visit during construction, it does go on during the day time. The room was 1 bedroom and the living room area is so large, you could fit defiantly 3-4 people (if they sleep out in the living room)
What I really came here for?
The private flight tour over The Great Barrier Reef with Hamilton Island Air
I will let the pictures speak for itself...I will only give recommendations.
First, have your camera- professional camera, not just cell phone. Depending on the private flight, could be 30 minutes to 45 minutes in air and that isn’t much time over the reefs since it is a bit out there.
Second, there are a lot of flight/activity companies. The issue is the ferries run only until 4pm, last one at 3pm. So, you can’t book this company unless you are on Hamilton Island. If you are staying on Airline Beach, stay only with an Airline Beach company.
The ferry schedule had me really confused and at the end- go with where you are staying.
Ferry is also $40-$60 USD one way *forgot exact but was not cheap. Be mindful of all actives, like I said- I would recommend maybe time on both to explore in depth along with the weather is extremely tropical, I was asked when I arrived in Sydney “How was Whitsunday weather”- it’s known for raining randomly and stormy, plan for 4 days in Whitsunday as an extra, I almost did not do both tours due to the weather.
Third, I recommend the private flight ABSOLUTELY- it’s once in a lifetime but make it worth it with amazing pictures/videos you can look back on (which I do, all the time on Whitsunday!!)
(Click the image above to see slide show of these magical shots I got!
The next activity that is a MUST, Half or full day Boat Reef Ryder
Depending on your timing or weather permitting, there is a half or full day option. The actual famous white beach part of Whitsunday is with the full day tour. The half day is 1 hour snorkel, 1 hour on the beach, 30 minutes boat ride out and back (the one I did)
This is the most southern part of The Great Barrier Reef and glad I got to see them both, the northern *in Cairns is defiantly more alive from the reefs/what i’m told as well.
Almost missing this tour, the weather said 70% thunder and thought the tour would be cancelled, do not bank on that. It is non refundable and thankfully I made it onto the tour! This is a pretty fast boat so try not to wear a hat unless you are on the inside of it. Its beautiful views- give up taking pictures going that fast in advance.
Don’t trust the weather, even calling them and leaving voicemail, they caught me right on time to let me know I was still on the tour. They will tell you if its cancelled and it is again nonrefundable.
Do not forget your go pro! ***
& do not forget sunscreen…… this is the worst burn I ever got in my life- even out for just a half day and with clouds.
If your snorkel gear is a bit off, tell them. Some of the group had a hard time with the masks and just let them know. Super cool crew on this tour and it was less than half full (I went in March) This tour for half the day was around $70 USD.
Other than what I recommended above;
Food: There is an italian restaurant, pizza, seafood restaurant, cafe (best sandwiches EVER, I miss them so much!!), mexican and ice cream. Maybe 1 other restaurant but that is it in the Marina. Great news- its actually incredibly good food. The cafe was my favorite and just got extra food to have in the fridge since it does take about a 15-20 minute walk down to the Marina. Also the desserts from the cafe are amazing!
Absolutely do not forget:
Go pro, sunscreen (don’t miss around with this even with the clouds!), and try to have some beach/pool side snacks. Booking wise, book both tours ahead if you can or the day you arrive- I got lucky but they did both say, they sell out quite often on the private flight and boat.
Also, jelly fish season- there is a warning with the hotels (including in Cairns AND Whitsunday) to grab something to protect you, don’t mess around- the smaller ones are dealthy- especially in season.
Time suggested: 4 days. Added an extra for rain just incase. Easy tropical destination and will be back!