20 Amazing things to do in the Whitsundays

One of Australia’s most picturesque and visited regions just a short plane ride from most capital cities, you will find a tropical oasis, with fresh local produce, secluded coves and home to the largest reef in the world!  Consisting of the 74 islands the Whitsundays can cater for all budgets and traveller types.

Home to the Unesco World Heritage site The Great Barrier Reef and the world famous Whitehaven Beach, with a pleasant year-round climate this tropical North Queensland destination is a must do when exploring Australia!

Here are 20 amazing things to do in the Whitsundays to help get your itinerary started.


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1. Visit the stunning Whitehaven Beach

The award-winning famous shore stretches about 7km and consists of fine, powdery white sand and the clearest water you will ever see. Being one of Australia’s most visited beaches you won’t be here alone but the pure beauty of this place won’t let crowds ruin its charm! You can reach the beach via a catamaran from the mainland or islands but if you are feeling a bit more adventurous (and if your budget allows), you can explore the beach via a helicopter or seaplane!

2. Take in the incredible views of Hill Inlet

Hill Inlet is one of the best things to do in the Whitsundays! A stunning spot located at the northern end of Whitehaven Beach. Hill Inlet is best viewed from the lookout at Tongue Point on Whitsunday Island. Most people moor their boats in Tongue Bay, take a dingy ashore and make the short uphill walk to the lookout for breathtaking views. As the tide shifts, the white sand and blue-green hues of the inlet blend seamlessly to create a swirling fusion of turquoise colours.

3. Appreciate the stunning sunsets

One of my favourite things to do in the Whitsundays is simply watch those epic sunsets! Every day on the Whitsundays is stunningly picturesque!
Take in the incredible views via a sunset cruise on the water or if you stay at Pinnacles Resort you can witness breathtaking landscapes of Airlie Beach with an amazing sunset backdrop!

Whitsundays Itinerary

4. Visit Unesco World Heritage site Great Barrier Reef

Home to diverse marine life of the most vivid colours, the Great Barrier Reef offers the opportunity for great adventure, whether you do it in luxury or on a budget. The 2300 kilometre (1430 mile) Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, the sheer size and grandeur of the reef resulted in it being one of the original eight wonders of the world and the first coral reef to be awarded World Heritage status. You can swim, snorkel, dive and sail this living masterpiece. If you are a diving enthusiast try one of the best Great Barrier Reef liveaboards to tick off your Australia bucket list!

Related: “Quick Tips on Sustainable Travel by Travel Bloggers”

5. Stop in at Bowen

Usually overlooked as a holiday destination when visiting the Whitsundays, the town of Bowen is one of the locals best-kept secrets. Start your day at Flagstaff hill where you will be rewarded with a 360-degree panoramic view of Bowen. Need a coffee break? Head to Le Sorelle coffee house for the best coffee in the Whitsundays and grab a piece of their homemade gourmet fudge, you won’t be disappointed! Finish your day with pitstop at the Big Mango located at the Bowen Information Centre on the Bruce HWY.

6. Explore Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is nestled amongst the Whitsunday Islands and is probably for the more luxurious travellers. The Island is one of the most popular Whitsunday islands offering an idyllic island experience, with 5-star accommodation and an array of activities and sights to get involved in. Choose from the luxurious and intimate setting of Qualia-voted the best resort in the world by Conde Naste Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards (2012). Or check out the Beach Club adults only oasis, this tranquil, boutique resort sits right on Catseye Beach, overlooking the Coral Sea.


7. Experience a Rum sensation

Fish D’vine is the original Rum Bar in Airlie Beach and is a favourite with both locals and visitors alike. On entry, you are greeted with the huge rum wall featuring over 450 rums, and of course Dr Rum aka Mark the Rum Bar manager on hand to make you the best mojito on the planet!

8. And then follow up with a Cooking Class

The Fish D’vine is also home to co-owner Bec Clark, Cooking Master Classes. A self-confessed food junkie you’ll learn tips and tricks of the trade as she shares her global obsession of travel and tastes. Oozing passion and fun Bec’s cooking classes will leave you feeling inspired and full. Yep, the below meal was happily consumed by me 🙂
You can check for classes here- http://thefoodjunkie.com.au/master-classes/

9. Enjoy the incredible sunsets by a boat cruise

No better way to end your day than on the Sundown Cruise for a sunset tour around Airlie. Sundowner Cruises operates from the new Port of Airlie which is only a short 200m walk from the main street of Airlie Beach. With nibbles and champagne provided,  you will then embark on sunset cruise where the Whitsunday islands provide the perfect back drop. The catamaran drifts around from Pioneer Bay to Mandalay Point, as dusk sets upon the day you will see shipwreck at Cannonvale Beach and if you are really lucky you may even spot a turtle at Turtle Bay.

10. Cafe hop around Airlie Beach

I am a sucker for sun drenched locations and good coffee, you will find both of these at the wonderful Fat Frog Beach Cafe in Cannonvale. A buzzing little cafe with a great selection of cakes and muffins, top notch coffee and fish tacos to die for! Don’t go past The Deck located under Heart Hotel in the main strip of Airlie Beach and La Tabella on the esplanade.

11.  Hike Conway National Park

Conway National Park and the Conway State Forest boasts a number of walking tracks, which take you through lush rainforest, mangroves and open forest. To get to Conway National Park from Airlie Beach, follow Shute Harbour Road south-east for 6.5 km to the Conway National Park Picnic ground.

You can find out more about the national park walks in Conway National Park here.

12.  Take a dip at Cedar Falls

Head west of Airlie Beach through sugar cane farming communities to Cedar Creek Falls. Set in a natural rock amphitheatre, and surrounded by abundant flora and fauna including majestic white cedar trees this tranquil waterfall is the perfect place for a midday dip.The waterhole is an easy walk from the parking area and there is also bush walks up and around the falls for the more energetic.

13. Visit the Airlie Beach Markets

If you are around Airlie Beach on a Saturday you can visit the local markets. The markets are held every Saturday from 8:00 am till around noon along the foreshore of Airlie Beach. They boast local artist, showcasing handcrafted jewellery, clothing, souvenirs, fresh local produce lots of entertainment.

14. Sun, Sail, Snorkel with Tongarra overnight cruise

Set sail on the Tongarra overnight cruise with Red Cat adventures, explore bask in the sun and meet lots of friendly faces! The Tongarra boasts a lot of deck space to relax and socialise while you explore the Whitsundays! For two days and two nights, you will sail around the Whitsunday Islands and experience all that they have to offer, exploring protected bays and snorkelling in the stunning fringing reefs, or working on your tan at Whitehaven Beach and sleeping under the stars at night! Tongarra is an extremely popular boat among the backpacker community and has a stellar reputation for exceeding passengers expectations.

15. Discover hidden coves at Bowen

Horseshoe Bay in Bowen was rated in the top 11 beach of Australias! This secluded cove is perfect for relaxing, snorkelling or paddling boarding. Head up to the Rotary Lookout where you will be rewarded with views of the surrounding coves, like Murray Bay.

RELATED: “Bowen, The Whitsundays Best Kept Secret”

16.  Take a scenic plane ride to Whitehaven Beach

Go on the Panorama Tour with Air Whitsundays and explore the Islands from the air and the water. This tour provides you with a scenic plane ride, an hour spent on Whitehaven Beach and 2 hours at Hardy Reef enjoying the underwater marine life from the glass bottom boat or snorkelling. Imagine the photos!!

17. See Airlie via Segway

Ride your own Segway along the Whitsunday Bicentennial Boardwalk overlooking the pristine waters of Pioneer Bay. The tour begins in Airlie Beach and glides on the boardwalk along the water’s edge past Abell Point Marina, Shingley Beach and the Whitsunday Botanic Gardens, through to Cannonvale Beach. The tour is a 7km round journey and your guide will be on the ball with informative commentary and interest points. You will also get to test your competitive side with a little race against your fellow riders. For more information on Segway Tours in Airlie visit Whitsundays Seqways.

18. Dine at Chef Hat Awarded Walters Lounge

Finish up your Whitsundays getaway with a fine dining dinner at Chef Hat awarded Walters Lounge located at Port of Airlie. Delicious, freshly prepared food, outstanding cocktails and a hand-picked boutique wine list can all be enjoyed whilst overlooking the beautiful Airlie Beach Marina.

19. Camp at Whitehaven Beach

Secluded beaches, fringing coral reefs and distinctive hoop pines complete the spectacular island picture. Camp among dry rainforest, grasses or above dense coral rubble that makes up the shore.
Note camping permits are required and fees apply, a tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

20. Helicopter ride over the Whitsundays

Indulge in the ultimate Great Barrier Reef experience with return helicopter flights to Cruise Whitsundays Reef world. This tour features a 60-minute scenic flight encompassing views of the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, the outer reef and world famous “Heart Reef”. To truly appreciate the size, scope and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, a scenic helicopter flight is a must do.

But what if it rains? Here is a great list of ‘Things to do in Airlie Beach when it rains!

Have you been to the Whitsundays, Australia? What did you love most? Share in the comments below!

I was a guest of Whitsundays Tourism & Jetstar, but as always opinions, photos and ideas remain my own.

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