Below are our most frequently asked questions. Need more information? The Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre is also available to assist with any questions you may have about the region, they can also help you to plan the perfect Whitsundays holiday.
Check out our Water Safety Handbook which provides information on the best practice guidelines for tourism operators in The Whitsundays.
The Whitsunday region is located in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, on the central east coast of Queensland, Australia. We are situated between Mackay and Townsville and are approximately 630km south of Cairns and 1100km north of Brisbane.
The Whitsundays is situated approximately 400km north of the Tropic of Capricorn, which crosses the east coast of Australia at the town of Rockhampton.
Bonza, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia fly from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Cairns to Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) and Great Barrier Reef Airport (Hamilton Island). Mackay Airport is about 2 hours drive on the Bruce Highway from The Whitsundays.
Resort connections with Cruise Whitsundays meet each flight from Great Barrier Reef Airport (Hamilton Island) connecting to Long Island, Daydream Island Resort and Living Reef and Port of Airlie Maritime Terminal in Airlie Beach.
Coach transfers and taxi’s meet each flight at the Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) and can be pre-booked or booked on arrival.
The Mackay Airport is serviced by Greyhound and Premier Coaches however departures to The Whitsundays are limited.
Come as casual as you like as you will probably spend most of your time in your swimsuit soaking up the sun, swimming and snorkelling. Don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, thongs/flip-flops, sandshoes (they’ll probably get wet), and perhaps jeans and a jacket for cooler evenings. If you are planning on spending a night out on the town, casual dress is all that is required, but please note that rubber shoes such as thongs/flip-flops are not permitted in most nightclubs.
Stinger suits and wetsuits are available to hire, as is all snorkelling/scuba diving equipment but if you have specialist equipment or a prescription mask, you are most welcome to bring them and use them on any tour. Most day and overnight cruises supply you with snorkelling equipment and protective suits as part of the price.
If you’re planning to sail, hard suitcases are difficult to stow. Bring soft luggage wherever possible, and some vessels require you to have a bag without zippers. Consider drawstring bags instead.
Yes, The Whitsundays is the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef and features the ultimate Great Barrier Reef Experience – under, above and on the reef! You can do a tour to the reef from Airlie Beach on the Whitsunday Coast, and from all the resort islands. Depending whether you have just half a day, a whole day or want to spend extended time on the reef and stay overnight, you can do it all in The Whitsundays. Find out more about visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
Naturally formed Heart Reef is located in The Whitsundays, the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, however, you can not swim or snorkel here. We recommend enjoying a scenic flight over Heart Reef either by helicopter or seaplane, for a brilliant photographic opportunity. Some people choose to surprise their loved ones with a flight over this romantic sight for a special occasion, with more than a few proposals taking place mid-air over the natural heart formation.
Cruising time is approximately 2 hours from Airlie Beach on the Whitsunday Coast or 1 1/2 hours from Hamilton Island. Alternatively, a seaplane or helicopter flight takes approximately 30 minutes direct.
Yes, you can swim in the Whitsunday waters however we recommend wearing a full-length lycra suit during the higher risk period (October – May) which reduces the risk of stings and is great sun protection too. Of the 8 million users of the Great Barrier Reef/North Queensland region each year, the percentage of Irukandji stings is minimal and far fewer Box Jellyfish stings occur. Whitsundays locals often swim during the ‘stinger season’ without any stinger suit protection, however, it is best to heed the advice of your tour operator and wear a stinger suit to ensure increased protection and safety.
We offer this safety advice to guests entering the water:
Swimming in other areas is fine as long as guidelines are observed.
Cid Harbour, while a good sheltered anchorage, is not a known or popular swimming/snorkelling location in The Whitsundays and is well away from the popular destinations which The Whitsundays is famous for. Like travelling anywhere in the world, it is important to understand the environment and heed the safety messages provided by operators.
There are regular, scheduled bus services across the Whitsunday mainland with Whitsunday Transit and Bowen Transit – you can check the timetables online. Whitsunday Transit operates a regular bus service across the whole coast, from Proserpine to Shute Harbour via Airlie Beach. They also offer easy airport transfers, which will pick you up and drop you off, directly at your accommodation.
Taxis also operate throughout the coastal region, call a local cab on 132 227.
There are two swimming beaches in the town of Airlie Beach itself, Airlie Beach and Boathaven Beach. Boathaven Beach is a new public beach, built when the Port of Airlie marina was developed. It has soft, white sand, and a swimming enclosure in summer, with ample parking adjacent. If you have a car, there are plenty of beaches a little further afield.
Cannonvale Beach is dog-friendly and has a swimming enclosure in summer as well. Dingo Beach, Hydeaway Bay, Conway and Wilson Beaches are off the beaten track, and often you can have a whole stretch of beach all to yourself. These beaches are also dog-friendly.
Bowen also has 7 beautiful beaches, with soft sand, ample parking and a very quiet, peaceful atmosphere.
We sure do! Click here for a copy.
If you live in Australia or NZ and would like a hard copy of the Visitors Guide posted to you, please request via email and a copy will be sent to you shortly. Unfortunately, we can not post hard copies of the guide to countries other than New Zealand, but you are able to view the guide online at the link above.
Visit our dedicated Whitsundays Business Event page for info on holding your next event or conference in The Whitsundays.
Yes, you can! For more information visit Queensland College of English.
The official months for whale season are from July to September with some sightings outside that time. Whales pass through The Whitsundays on their annual migration from the colder southern seas to the tropical waters of The Whitsundays during the winter months. Humpback and Pilot Whales are a common sight, including the famous Migaloo, the white humpback whale, and other species that come all the way from Antarctica to calve and breed in the warm sheltered waters of the Whitsunday Islands.
Good news, if you are planning to bring your dogs to The Whitsundays, check out our blog Dog-Friendly Holidays in The Whitsundays. We have put together some great options to make your next holiday as easy as possible for you and your im-paw-tent family member, including pet-friendly accommodations, activities and all the pet-friendly beaches right here in The Whitsundays!
There are numerous island campsites dotted around the Whitsunday Islands, and you might be lucky enough to get a small campsite all to yourself or to join a larger group, of up to 24 other campers. Scamper can help you to get to the islands if you don’t have your own boat. More information on Whitsunday Island Camping can be found here.
Whitehaven Beach is on Whitsunday Island which is a National Park. There is no fixed accommodation at Whitehaven Beach, however, camping and overnight boat moorings are a great alternative.
The Whitsunday Islands do not allow guests to bring vehicles and island ferry services do not have facilities for guests to transport personal vehicles. Cars and vehicles alike should be parked in public or secure car parks upon departure of the Whitsunday Coast to visit the Whitsunday Islands.
Cathu State Forest, about 50km south of Proserpine, west of the Bruce Highway is an area where you are allowed to drive or ride your registered vehicles, motorcycles, trail bikes or bicycles. A special permit is not required unless it is a commercial activity, an organised group activity or a competitive event. Conditionally registered vehicles are not permitted. Horse-riding is also permitted on open roads and tracks in Cathu State Forest.
In addition, the Conway National Park, between Proserpine and Airlie Beach, has recently been opened up to mountain bikes.
Ask your Airlie Beach caravan park upon check out if they offer an overnight/weekend parking service for a nominated fee, if you intend to visit the islands.
Alternatively, there are numerous paid parking facilities throughout the Whitsunday Coast. If you are parking your vehicle in Airlie Beach why not download the Whitsunday Regional Council EasyPark smartphone app! To download the EasyPark app and create your free account, visit – http://app.easypark.net
A variety of holiday parks offer affordable camping options with powered and non-powered sites available. Camping on the roadside is discouraged.
The Whitsundays has some great fishing. From catching a huge Barramundi at Peter Faust Dam (Lake Proserpine), to fly fishing to deep sea game fishing, The Whitsundays has something for all fishing fans. There are a number of tackle shops along the main road into Airlie Beach and the highway at Proserpine, who can help you with gear, bait, charters, information, sites, permits and zoning maps to help make your Whitsunday fishing trip a successful one. For maps and fishing zoning information click here.
There are a variety of companies that offer Dive Certification Courses, email our team at The Whitsundays Visitor Information Centre for Whitsunday Dive Operators and Dive Sites.
There is plenty to do in Airlie Beach! Visit the markets on Saturday mornings along the beach for a souvenir or gifts for friends and family at home and go shopping along the main street. Hire a scooter or car and go exploring – the Whitsunday Coast is full of hidden surprises, slightly off the beaten track. Go for a swim at the Airlie Beach Lagoon, it’s free. Eat your way along the main street, there are delicious feasts to be enjoyed in the wide variety of restaurants and much fun to be had on a night or two out in the bars and nightclubs of Airlie Beach. Listen to local musicians, try some of the magnificent day tours and water sports on offer, experience a once in a lifetime scenic flight… find out more about Airlie Beach here.
The Airlie Beach markets are held every Saturday from 7am -1pm. You will find the markets on the Airlie Beach foreshore. The open-air markets include premier art and handcraft showcases, locally made jewellery, clothing, souvenirs, books, fruit and vegetables and lots of entertainment.
The Bowen markets take place on Sunday mornings at Hansen Park, on Horseshoe Bay Road from 8am – 12pm.