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 Great Barrier Reef 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 🙂
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 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!
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.
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.
WHAT TO DO IN THE WHITSUNDAYS AND WHICH ISLAND TO CHOOSE?
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.
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.
WHAT TO DO IN THE WHITSUNDAY COAST & HINTERLAND
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.
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.
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