The 2020 lockdown will surely be remembered and although it seems like a disaster to humans it is bound to bring great things for nature all over the world. The Whitsunday Islands have always been known as an unspoilt eco-zone, and we can only imagine what it is going to look like after this well-deserved break from tourists.

Let`s look forward to the refreshed, restored and revitalised land and the underwater world at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef in 2021 🙂

WHY ‘WHITSUNDAYS’?

The Whitsundays have always been a magnet for sailors. Although a few islands have recently been developed to cater for eco-tourism the majority of the marine park is completely untouched, and only little has changed since the 1770s when Captain Cook sailed through this tropical wonderland for the first time and named the islands for the day he arrived – on Sunday.

The world-famous Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach – multiple times rated as the world`s best beach

THE WHITEHAVEN BEACH

The Whitsunday Island itself – the largest in the group – is a national park, as are many of the other islands. Here all you find are white sandy beaches, secluded bays, radiant marine life and heavenly peace.

The major attraction is the swirling white sand in the Hill Inlet and the almost legendary Whitehaven Beach – rated as the world`s best beach. The 7-kilometres long virgin sand stretch consists of 98% pure silica brought to the beach via prevailing sea currents over millions of years. But watch out – the sand is so fine that it can get in the highest quality of watches, cameras, phones and other electronic equipment and severely damage them!

The Whitehaven Beach attracts the visitors with its white stretch of sand that consists of 98% pure silica

WHITSUNDAY ECO-LUXURY

Many of the Whitsunday isles are privately owned or uninhabited, and due to the sailing and yachting popularity in the area, the whole surroundings often gives an impression that there are more people about at the sea than there are on land.

On some islands, however, the hunger for eco-luxury brought substantial development. Upscale tourism at its best can be enjoyed on Hamilton Island, Daydream Island, Long Island and Hayman Island – luxurious retreats with 5-star service. The resorts are popular with honeymooners, wealthy holidaymakers, sailors, yachter and scuba divers.

The Whitsunday Islands enjoy a pristine environment and many islands are only accessible by a private boat

Recently, the South Molle Islands have opened up to the independent travellers who can appreciate their splendour at ‘reasonable’ price and stay at one of the islands` campgrounds.

TO GET THERE: Most of the islands can be visited by booking a ‘bareboat charter’ or a cruise from any resort or a ferry from the mainland at the Airlie Beach/Shute Harbour or Mackay.

Hamilton Island is popular with honeymooners and tropical luxury-lovers

WHAT TO DO IN THE WHITSUNDAYS AND WHICH ISLAND TO CHOOSE?

  • HAMILTON ISLAND – the most popular and spoilt island, brilliant infrastructure, airport, marinas, shops, restaurants, Golf Club, Yacht Club, luxurious accommodation, spa, massage, all kinds of water sports, snorkelling & diving
  • DAYDREAM ISLAND – snorkelling at the Lover’s Cove, mini golf, open-air cinema, the Living Reef (man-made outdoor aquarium ), Stingray Splash
  • LONG ISLAND – closest to the mainland, gorgeous walking tracks, secluded bays, excellent diving and snorkelling, tranquil atmosphere, great for nature lovers
  • HAYMAN ISLAND – a private resort with a small private airport, idyllic setting, romantic and intimate location, an ideal honeymoon spot, a popular gateway to the Langford Island – it features a long sand spit that all but disappears at high tide
The Langford Island is known for a long sand spit that all but disappears at high tide
  • LINDEMAN ISLAND – the most southerly island, very private, lots of small uninhabited isles around, great snorkelling, whale watching, mangroves, orchids, exotic birdlife, Mount Oldfield (the highest point, 212 m)
  • BRAMPTON ISLAND – a small private resort, wildlife, marine life, native flora, nature walks, a campsite, Brampton Peak (the highest point, 214 m)
  • SOUTH MOLLE ISLAND – one of the more accessible to independent travellers and recently gained the reputation to be a ‘backpackers island’, close to the mainland, adventure travel resort, rainforest, secluded bays, white sandy beaches, birdlife, wildlife, marine life, snorkelling, campgrounds ( Sandy Bay, Paddle Bay, North Molle Island – Cockatoo Beach), to get there: from Airlie Beach/Abel Point Marina
  • WHITSUNDAY ISLAND – the largest island yet uninhabited, Whitehaven Beach is the most famous beach in the national park, rated as some of the most beautiful on earth, cruises can be booked, several campgrounds available (booking essential)
  • HOOK ISLAND – the second largest island and uninhabited, rugged landscape, breathtaking views, Nara and Macona Inlets (fjord-like looking) are the major tourist attraction; cruises can be arranged from other islands or mainland, impressive reefs perfect for snorkelling and diving
  • LOVE HEART REEF – the islet made it to every travel magazine for its famed heart-shaped coral reef that can be seen from the air (scenic flights can be booked at any resort)
Corals of the Love Heart Reef is best to be admired from the air

THE WHITSUNDAY COAST

Lesser visited and more authentic, the Whitsunday Coast is often liked by independent travellers and road trippers. Dominated by the sugar industry, flat cane fields spread around the region and the agriculture is the primary industry. The coastline is best to explore by driving, and there are several scenic drives to enjoy.

From Proserpine, the road will take drivers through the splendid hinterland of the Whitsunday Coast; mango plantations at Bowen and rolling hills, lakes, colourful plains of Collinsville in the north. Driving southwards, motorists will find azure blue seas with coral reefs in the Conway National Park and picturesque forests in Mackay.

For tourists who decide to reach the Whitsunday Islands by boat, the journey leads to Airlie Beach. Saying here allows them a great alternative to the islands (which will be significantly more expensive) and still having the Great Barrier Reef accessible via the local charters or a public ferry. There are plenty of exciting day trips and tours that can be booked at Airlie Beach.

Arlie Beach, the Whitsunday Coast

AIRLIE BEACH

A popular holiday resort situated in the mainland is also a gateway to the Whitsunday Islands if using a boat. Airlie Beach is a vibrant tourist hub with a wide range of accommodation, alfresco restaurants, boutiques, and marinas.

There are plenty of fabulous beaches and bays to choose from as well as national parks teeming with tropical fauna and flora.

Airlie Lagoon & Beach, Queensland

WHAT TO DO IN THE WHITSUNDAY COAST & HINTERLAND

  • Airlie Beach –  Snows Beach, Airlie Beach Lagoon, Airlie Beach Foreshore,  Boathaven Beach &  Shingley Beach (marinas, hotels, beach resorts, parks and gardens, swimming pools, playgrounds, restaurants, shops, tour operators, etc.)
  • Cannonvale –  Coral Esplanade with lovely cafes and restaurants, great for walking, swimming and picnics
  • Flametree – beachside resorts, Whitsundays Airport, Conway Conservation Park (Mt Rooper trekking, lookouts)
  • Shute Harbour – yacht & sail club, sea kayaking, snorkelling, diving, tour operators, hotels, cafes and restaurants, Lion`s Lookout, ferry to the Whitsunday Islands
  • Conway National Park – coastal tropical rainforest, virgin jingles and hidden beaches, great trekking and hiking, yachting and sailing, Swampy Bay bush camping, Conway Beach (excellent facilities)
  • Dryander National Park – off the beaten track, eco-lodges and aquaculture farms Dingo Beach and Hideaway Bay with marvellous coral reefs
  • Bowen – the Big Mango, Horseshoe Bay & Rotary Lookout, Greys Bay, Rose Bay, Kings Beach, Queens Beach – some of the most alluring beaches in the coast (45 min drive from Proserpine)
  • Proserpine River – join the Whitsunday Crocodile Safari and see the crocs in their natural environment
  • Mackay – ‘the Sugar Capital’ is much loved for boating, yachting, sailing and island-hopping to the Great Barrier, Reef Cape Hillsborough National Park (camping, trekking, boating), Bluewater Trail, the Pioneer River
  • Eungella National Park – this extraordinary reserve near Mackay is defined by the longest sub-tropical rainforest in Australia, waterfalls and rock pools, abundant wildlife; the highlight is Australian platypus, great camping, and trekking (2 hr drive from Proserpine)
Shute Harbour, the Whitsunday Coast, Queensland

WHEN TO TRAVEL

It is very important to plan the trip properly for one main reason: the Whitsundays are subject to tropical weather that seasonally brings not only sweltering heat and cyclones but also many dangerous sea creatures.  The coastal waters bring marine stingers between Nov-May, and unless you book a resort holiday, you won`t be able to enjoy the ocean.

June-Aug can get a little too cold to swim for some. September is regarded to be the ideal month for safe swimming, snorkelling and diving, clear skies and pleasant temperatures. Also, the Humpback whale watching season starts in July and goes until September.

Fewer tourists mean happier wildlife, the Whitsunday Islands

HOW TO GET THERE

Fly to Proserpine/Whitsunday Coast Airport (Australian mainland) and take a ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island, Daydream Island or the Molle Islands.

Otherwise, fly directly to the Hamilton Island (Great Barrier Reef Airport).

Both airports are well-connected to all Australian cities.

For all flights visit www.momondo.com  or www.skyscaner.com

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Eva Bodova

Eva Bodova

Tuesday 21 April 2020

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