Having lived in the Whitsunday region for 22 years and explored almost every part of it, I have learnt so much about the beauty of our region and that much of it is available free to locals and tourists alike.
So, when you have seen The Whitsundays from the air, on or under the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea, try one of the “free” activities in the tropical rainforest of Conway National Park, from a short hike, or 3 day trail (with camping options too!) to the Whitsunday Islands National Park where you will experience walks boasting never-ending views. There is something for everyone and every fitness level!
These are my Top 5 National Park Hikes of The Whitsundays;
1. The Whitsundays Great Walk
28km long from Brandy Creek (starting 15km from Airlie Beach) and finishing at Airlie Beach, and provides 3 camping grounds with toilets and water tanks . This trail also includes the 2 side-tracks – Wompoo Trail, about 2.5km from the main gate; and the Honeyeater Trail towards the end of the Main Trail.
2. Honeyeater Lookout
This is a must, and is an 8km return, with some steep and sometimes challenging terrain, starting part way up the hill from Airlie Beach. This trail is not for the faint-hearted. Sensible walking / hiking shoes recommended and definitely worth the climb. The panoramic view at sunrise or sunset from the lookout is special and different every day, looking out over the Coral Sea Marina, and the Coral Sea – don’t forget your camera!
This trail is also included in the Whitsunday Running Club event, Whitsunday Trail Festival (previously known as Run the Great Whitsunday Trail), including 58km, 29km and 11km, all ending at the beach in Airlie Beach. Unfortunately due to COVID19 the event was cancelled for 2020 but is returning in 2021.
Photo credit: @ameliamay_s
3. Coral Beach Track & the Beak plus Swamp Bay & Mt Rooper
Take a hike to a deserted beach with a view of The Whitsundays; from Coral Beach walk east just 180m along the beach and look for the walking track to the beak, again with beautiful views. These trails also combine with Mt Rooper and its magnificent lookout over the islands.
You could spend all day just hiking!! Just don’t forget to carry water.
4. Airlie Creek Walk
Want something shorter for the whole family to start you off on your trail journey?
The 850m return Airlie Creek Walk is just 10 min walk from the main street and only takes approx. 30mins to complete. It has 4 different grades, from easy to a bit more challenging, but great for all ages. Despite it being the shortest trail in the Whitsundays, you are still rewarded with areas of lush rainforest, beautiful tropical plants, a huge figtree and a lovely bubbling stream, in the wet season the creek is flowing with a waterfall/water hole at the top.
5. Bareboating around The Whitsundays?
If you are already out and about exploring The Whitsundays on your bareboat adventure then you are exposed to many of our 74 islands where you can hop off and go for a hike with amazing views over the island, including the iconic Whitehaven Beach. Special trails and lookouts have been provided on some islands and are maintained by Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, eg Hamilton Island, the home of the renowned “Passage Peak”, the highest peak in The Whitsundays, and very challenging as a race every year.
More trails are listed on the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Services website.