Winter in The Whitsundays

4 reasons why winter is the best season to visit The Whitsundays

We see your southern winters and raise you a Whitsundays winter, where mother nature serves up balmy 25 degree days (average) and equally temperate nights.

Winter is the ideal season to soak up the sunshine hitting a couple of walking trails, attending a number of local festivals and diving into the pristine snorkelling conditions that cooler temperatures afford the Great Barrier Reef.

Defrost those winter blues and warm up this winter with an escape to The Whitsundays, here’s why.

  1. Keep your eyes peeled, it’s whale watching season

There are few things as magical as catching a glimpse of a humpback whale emerging from the depths of the ocean.

From June to September, the warm waters of The Whitsundays transform into a whale-calf nursery as humpback whales migrate north each year from the Antarctic to mate, socialise and birth.

The best way to experience the majestic breaching of a whale, catch a tail splash, or spot a playful calf is to charter your way through waters by boat, possibly making every tour in The Whitsundays a whale watching tour! If you’re lucky, you might just find your casual resort connection between islands turns into an aerial acrobatic display.

  1. Hike through national parks and soak in the winter sun

If you’re keen on an adventure under the warm Whitsunday sun, winter is the best time to set your sights on local hikes, minus the tropical humidity.

Hike Airlie Beach’s Honeyeater Lookout, which gifts aerial views of the coastal town and some of The Whitsunday islands.

Embark on  a journey through the Conway Circuit, a 28km escapade through the rainforest from Brandy Creek to Airlie Beach or escape off the beaten path to Hydeaway Bay.

For a hike in the middle of, 74 island wonders, lace up your hiking boots for The Whitsunday Islands National Park.

This park is only accessible by boat, but once there, you’ll find plenty of walking tracks to explore – The Whitsunday Peak track, Hill Inlet lookout or Headland track are all great options.

  1. Join the festival fun

Base yourself in Airlie Beach for a front-row ticket to some of the best winter festivals in The Whitsundays.

A terrific way to discover the best of the reef is the Great Barrier Reef Festival (5 – 8 August 2021), held each year in Airlie Beach. This four-day-long festival involves carnival rides, market and food stalls as well as a pop-up bar on the foreshore.

Not just a festival of fun, this reef focused environmental celebration aims to educate on the ecological impacts of the reef, highlighting The Whitsundays lifestyle and community in the “heart of the reef” – Airlie Beach. 2021 marks the festival’s 21st celebration – a good excuse to make this year their biggest and best yet.

For sailors,  Airlie Beach Race Week (12 – 19 August 2021) hosts their annual sailing race on the waters of Pioneer Bay and The Whitsunday Passage. For those not quite as savvy with their sea legs, you’ll find the Whitsundays Festival of Sailing onshore and free for all to join.

Make your way across to Hamilton Island for a change of scenery and you’ll find Hamilton Island Race Week (21-21 August 2021), Australia’s largest offshore sailing regatta, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

Enter Daydream Island Resort for an intimate long weekend rock music featuring Daryl Braithwaite and Richard Clapton  Surf Music in Paradise (20-24 August 2021). If you’re keen for more, the music continues, with the Living End and Phil Jamieson joining the set from 26 – 30 August 2021.

If you’re keen to gear up for a challenge, lace up your running shoes, slip on some togs and jump on a bike for the 2021 COLORBOND ® steel Airlie Beach Triathlon Festival (4 – 5 September 2021).  The Olympic Distance Triathlon consists of a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run. The Sprint Distance Triathlon involves a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, or if you’re a newbie to the world of triathlons, try the Enticer Triathlon for a 300m swim, 10km bike and 2.5km run.

Explore the Conway National Park ranges while testing your speed and stamina during the Anaconda Whitsunday Trail Fest (11-12 September 2021). This event is no easy feat – the gruelling 58km marathon kicks off at 5am followed by the 28km half marathon.

For a less strenuous run, the Trail Fest Honeyeater 10.5km challenge is great for beginners rewarding participants with views over the Coral Sea. Beat the Creek and the Kids Beach Bash are also perfect for little legs to join in on the fun.

Celebrating all things art, the Whitsundays Arts Festival (17-19 September 2021) transforms Airlie Beach’s fairy tree park into three days of festival fun. You’ll find an array of art exhibitions, workshops, theatre, dance and music performances.

Head further up north and buckle up for the action-packed, multi-terrain Don River Dash event (10-12 September 2021). Held at the Don River near Bowen, the two-day race sees off-road buggies and bikes race along the riverbed.

  1. Grab a snorkel and make for the reef

One of the biggest reasons to visit The Whitsundays in winter. It’s the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, a Mecca of vibrant marine and coral life.

Kit yourself with a mask, snorkel and pair of fins and get acquainted with the world’s largest reef system.

Exploring the reef is accessible all year round, but winter is The Whitsundays ‘dry season’ meaning minimal rainfall to disturb the water, renders it crystal clear, and ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving.

If you want to snorkel and swim right off the beach you’re in luck. The Whitsundays is home to enticing white sand beach islands fringed with tropical reefs, surrounded by an oasis of turquoise water.

Alongside whale sightings, you’re also likely to spot manta rays in the winter months as they glide and leap out of the water.

Whether you’re partial to days filled exploring by land or sea, you’ll be guaranteed to thaw out and relax into this tropical winter haven.