Are the Whitsunday Islands Worth the Trip?

The Whitsunday Islands are located off the coast of Airlie beach on the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Airlie Beach is a small beach town in Queensland, pretty much 8 hours from civilization to the North (Cairns) and to the South (Hervey Bay). Let’s be honest…Rockhampton doesn’t count.

If you are interested in visiting the Whitsundays, there is an airport near Airlie Beach (Whitsunday Airport) or there is the Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island. Although a bit difficult to access, with the long drives south from Cairns or north from Hervey Bay, in my opinion the effort is worth it.

We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Cairns or Port Douglas, so enjoying a few days in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays to see the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach was an amazing experience.

The Whitsunday Islands truly have the most stunning beach I have ever seen, and certainly one of the most beautiful in the world.

The sand is the whitest sand you will ever see, as it is the purest in the world (99% silica). For this alone, I would recommend a visit to the Whitsundays while you are in Australia.

Although a visit to the Islands could potentially bust your budget, I would plan for this and save in a few other areas on the trip to make it happen. Our time in the Whitsundays was one of the biggest splurges on our trip, and was money well spent in my opinion.

We planned our budget around spending extra to do a two night catamaran cruise around the islands, which pending what type of cruise you prefer, can actually not wreck your budget too badly.

The cruises range from private, to small – large groups of people. Some companies are more focused on luxury, and thus more expensive, while others offer more budget friendly option. We opted for the more budget friendly option with a medium sized group of people. We sailed on the Wings II.

Most of the people on the boat were our age or within 10 years of it, so it ended up being a really fun trip as well as relaxing and romantic. We found it to be a nice balance of social, but not crazy.

The vibe of the boat and each person’s experience will largely depend on the group of people you are with and the staff aboard though, so keep that in mind when choosing the boat and company. The food was definitely simple, but decent. Definitely not spectacular and could have been better, but we weren’t in it for the food. We brought along some of our own snacks and treats, and were happy we did. Overall, we enjoyed our experience on the Wings, but I would choose a trip based on the itinerary and the type of experience you are looking for, as it can vary quite a bit.

Hands down, our favorite part of the cruise was getting to learn and experience scuba diving.

At first, I was nervous I would freak out, in the water, but once we started, it went really smoothly. I was hooked after our first dive.

We had such an amazing time, and truly fell in love with it. What an amazing way to add to your experience in this region.

Surprisingly, the dives weren’t that expensive, especially considering our first dive was essentially a private dive, as it was just us and the instructor.

If you’re not up for scuba diving, there is always the option to snorkel around the reefs.

The itinerary the boats follow and the parts of the reef they visit will ultimately depend on the weather and water conditions. A must-have stop would be Whitehaven Beach, so make sure the boat you chose visits Whitehaven and spends a decent amount of time there (we spent about 3-4 hours there)…clearly we had fun 🙂

An alternative option to visiting the Whitsundays would be to stay at one of the resorts in Airlie Beach or on one of the islands and take day cruises, but the resorts can be pricey.

Finally, one tip from the locals…one of the best time to go is apparently in September when the weather is great, the diving is good, and the jelly fish are sparse.

If you have any questions regarding the area or would like some help planning your trip to the Whitsundays, leave a comment below or feel free to reach out to me by e-mail!

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