Top ways to play in the Whitsundays

An endlessly blue horizon, stretches of soft sand and an abundance of ways to enjoy it all.

When it comes to the  Whitsunday Islands, even the locals are blown away by the pure silicone beaches and crystal-clear waters just off the Queensland coast. This 74-island archipelago is home to famous destinations like Whitehaven Beach, whose bright white sands beckon travelers from around the globe and the glamorous Hamilton Island. We’ve picked out some of the best things to do in the Whitsundays so you can make the most of your trip to this aquatic utopia.

1. Sail the Seas

The waters around the Whitsunday Islands are ideal for sailing, the best way to see the Great Barrier Reef. The sweeping wake patterns from smaller vessels are a common sight on the Coral Sea, as are the towering timber masts of classic Australian tall ships between the islands. Charter a boat from operators like Cruise Whitsundays and take off, getting plenty of opportunities to splash and snorkel through crystal-clear water filled with coral and fish. For a more atmospheric sailing experience, board a stately and traditional tall ship, like the ones from Whitsundays Sailing Adventures, and let the wind carry you from shore to shore.

2. Get in the Water

There’s no better way to experience the marvelous waters of the Whitsundays than by getting up close. The islands are home to a number of incredible beaches ideal for a day of relaxation, including Whitehaven Beach, whose brilliant white sands gradually give way to clear, cerulean waters. Aptly named Daydream Island is home to sparkling bays ideal for beach games or swimming near shore, but you can also venture further by hopping aboard a jet ski safari and taking off across the waves. A guide from Whitsunday Jetski Tours can bring you around the resort-laden coast, introducing you to the natural beauty of the island and pointing out dreamily remote Whitsunday hotels.

3. Meet Local Wildlife

If you need a break from the beach, visit the inland attractions of Hamilton Island, the largest inhabited island of the Whitsundays. While the isle has its own share of coral-fringed bays and beach activities, Hamilton is also home to WILD LIFE Hamilton Island, a nature park where you can encounter native Australian animals in person. Sign up in advance for the chance to cuddle a koala over breakfastan amazing start to a day full of wallabies, kangaroos, and adorable pademelons.

4. Soar Above It All

Take to the air to get a spectacular overview of the Whitsundays. From high up in the sky, you can see across the scattered islands of the archipelago, the intense azure hues of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea swirling between them. Airlie Beach, the sun-kissed gateway to the Whitsundays, is the most common departure point for scenic flights over the region, in which expert pilots from GSL Aviation take you above breathtaking locations that showcase the diversity of the reefs. A more thrilling way to experience the islands is aboard an aerobatic plane as a professional from CQ Adventure Flights takes you twirling, rolling and diving through the skies.

An endlessly blue horizon, stretches of soft sand and an abundance of ways to enjoy it all make the Whitsundays a must-see vacation destination. Whether you spend you stay basking on the beach or exploring the colorful depths, the spectacular scenery of this pristine archipelago is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

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