From whizzing around remote islands on a sailboat to snorkelling in colorful coral reefs, the Whitsundays are full of fun things to do.
Tucked away on the Whitsunday Coast with the Great Barrier Reef on its doorstep, the Whitsundays are an archipelago of 74 tropical islands. It is a true paradise where you will find white beaches, sparkling turquoise waters, dense rainforests and almost everything else that your typical tropical vacation has. But the Whitsundays offer so much more than lazing around with a cocktail in hand… despite what it sounds like beautiful Really good. It’s a coastal playground filled with activities to quench your thirst for adventure. Check out some of our favorite activities to enjoy your time at Pentecost.
1. Go on a sailing trip
Pack your bathing suits, lather on the sunscreen and get ready to experience life on the open sea. Stop at palm-fringed islands and secluded coves, relax on hidden beaches away from the crowds, and discover the best places to slip into your snorkel and view the colorful underwater world. After a jam-packed day of exploring, sit out on the deck with a cool drink and enjoy the sparkling ocean views as the sunsets over the islands. Bliss. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at sailing, you can slip in and help the crew hoist the sails and steer the boat.
2. Beaches, beaches and more beaches
You know that iconic image you see on all the Whitsunday adverts and postcards? It’s probably Whitehaven Beach. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe how beautiful it is. Whitehaven Beach is just the tip of the iceberg as Whitsundays are filled with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches… the kind you might imagine when a meditation teacher asks you to imagine a tropical paradise. Whether you want to soak up the rays on private coves, paddle in crystal clear waters or explore vibrant coral gardens and tropical fish, there’s a beach with your name on it. Some of our favorites include Betty’s Beach, Chalkie’s Bay, Blue Pearl Bay and Catseye Beach.
3. Go camping
The Whitsunday Islands are home to some of Queensland’s most luxurious resorts. But if you have a little more fire in your belly and would rather do something more adventurous, camping might just tick the box. In fact, it is a rather special way of celebrating Pentecost. You will have some of the world’s most famous beaches all to yourself and get to immerse yourself in nature. Wave goodbye to the day-trippers as they sail off into the sunset as you walk along Chance Bay or hike up to Whitehaven Beach Lookout in solitude. Wake up to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, slip into your swimmers and take a dip straight away. There is no better way to start the day.
4. Experience a Ngaro First Nations Welcome to Country
The traditional owners of the Whitsundays and the surrounding coastal fringe are the Ngaro people, also known as the “Canoe People”. Experience a Welcome to Country ceremony and a short talk about Whitsunday history and culture from a local member of the Ngaro family. The history and culture of Ngaro goes back thousands of years, and Nara Inlet on Hook Island is one of the oldest Aboriginal sites discovered on Australia’s east coast.
Related reading: Learn more about First Nations experiences in Queensland
5. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth? It has existed for about 20 million years and is home to some prehistoric creatures that still live here today. You can take a day trip from Airlie Beach or one of the Whitsunday Islands. The companies usually provide all the equipment so you can jump right in and explore. Look out for the ‘Great Eight’: the Great Barrier Reef’s living legends, whom everyone hopes to see swimming around the corals. These majestic creatures are turtles, clams, clown fish (nemos), manta rays, whales, Maori wrasse, sharks and potato cod.
6. Go whale watching
If you’re heading to the Whitsundays for a winter holiday (with an average temperature of 23°C, who wouldn’t?!), whale watching is a must. The season runs from June to October when humpbacks migrate from the oh-so-cool Antarctic waters to the warm waters surrounding this region. Many pregnant whales give birth here as it is sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef. Humpbacks are also one of the most playful whales and you might get to see them breaching, playing and beating their stories on the water to communicate with other whales. If you’re really lucky, you’ll see a mother swimming with her newborn calf. These magnificent creatures are a sight to behold.
7. Explore the bushwalking trails
Lush native bushland meets tropical island paradise. Now it is a match made in heaven. It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Whitsundays, but there are some beautiful walks and hiking trails that take you into dense rainforest in every shade of green imaginable. Winding along trails is great, but let’s be honest… the best part of hiking is being rewarded with spectacular views. There are some pretty amazing outcrops with views that stretch far out to sea. The Ngaro Sea Trail is one of the best. This 11.5km trail takes you through grasslands, rainforests and beaches and gives you an insight into the rich Ngaro history and culture. Don’t forget to check out the Aboriginal cave paintings near Nara Fjord.
8. Swim in Cedar Creek Falls
Queensland is full of beautiful pockets of rainforest with hidden swimming holes and waterfalls. Sandwiches in between Airlie Beach and Prosperine is Cedar Creek Falls: a stunning natural waterhole nestled in the coastal hinterland. The clear waters lie in a natural rock amphitheater enveloped in abundant native flora and fauna. You can easily spend a whole day here, so pack a picnic, cool drinks and a good book to read between swims. You can even sit in one of the shallow runoff streams to stay cool if it’s really hot. If you get tired of lounging in lush watering holes all day (oh, what a hard life it is), you can go on one of the bushwalks that go around and up to the falls for some pretty epic views. The waterfalls are especially special after a downpour.
9. Take a scenic flight
The Whitsundays are absolutely stunning from the sea, but your mind will be blown even more when you take a scenic flight. Seeing the Whitsunday Islands from a bird’s eye view gives you a whole new perspective. You’ll see rocky coves, sprawling coral reefs and sparkling turquoise waters, as well as iconic sights like Heart Reef, which you can only see from above. Climbing into one of these small planes and taking to the air is an experience in itself, and you may even get to sit with the pilot in the cockpit.
10. Go island hopping
Only eight of the 74 Whitsundays are inhabited, the rest are wild and undeveloped with native bushland, rainforest and pristine beaches. Of the inhabited islands, there are many luxurious resorts where you can go to relax and enjoy some of the good things life has to offer. Popular holiday islands include Hamilton Island, Hayman Island, Whitsunday Island and Daydream Island. You can choose a day trip or an overnight trip, but if you’re feeling lavish, why not splurge by treating yourself to a stay at one of the resorts. Spend your days on a comfortable sun lounger, snorkeling, sipping cocktails and eating delicious fresh seafood. If you are looking for more of an adventurous or unforgettable trip, sailing may be the way to go as you can dip in and out of the islands while keeping the intrepid spirit alive.