Best Whitsunday Tours for Backpackers

Boat tours around the Whitsunday Islands offer great value for money, a chance to make some new friends and have some incredible new experiences. There are many action-packed itineraries to choose from and you will be surprised just how affordable they can be!

The ‘Heart of the Whitsundays’ Airlie Beach is a backpackers paradise with lagoon pools overlooking the Coral Sea, endless outdoor activities, great nightlife, affordable accommodation and plenty of cheap eats. Tours from Airlie Beach range from single-day trips to overnight adventures and are the perfect way for backpackers and solo travellers to experience the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. No need to compromise your experience in order to stay within your budget, there is something for everyone in our selection of backpacker-friendly tours that feature the best of the Whitsundays without breaking the bank!

Backpacker Jump Whitehaven Beach Whitsundays


Day Tours For Backpackers

Day tours are perfect for travellers who are short of time but still want to experience the best of the Whitsundays. Offering incredible value, day tours often visit multiple locations and include a tasty lunch and return transfers from your hotel or hostel! There are endless day tours around the Whitsunday Islands available, here are some of our action-packed favourites:

1. Whitsunday Bullet

Whitsunday Bullet

Jump on board ‘Bullet’ and cruise at up to 25 knots around the aquamarine waters of Whitsunday Islands. Bullet’s action-packed itinerary includes snorkelling the fringing Great Barrier Reef and a visit to the world-famous Whitehaven Beach where you can sink your toes into the soft pure white silica sand or take a dip in the crystal clear turquoise water that laps the beach - an Instagrammer’s dream! There are even free stand-up paddleboards to use during stops and a smorgasbord lunch! Whitsunday Bullet has special rates for backpackers and is a fun day trip not to miss!

2. Ocean Rafting

Ocean Rafting Whitsundays Whitehaven Beach

Pack three days into one with Ocean Rafting’s Northen Exposure or Southern Lights day tours. These boats travel at top speeds and offer snorkelling, a trip to Whitehaven Beach and reef and island naturalist talks. A multi-award winner, Ocean Rafting offers the only tours that cruise through the swirling sands of Hill Inlet, an experience not to miss!

While the Southern Lights tour visits both north and south Whitehaven Beach for extra time to enjoy this slice of paradise, the Northern Exposure tour has more of a snorkelling focus and stops at two snorkelling spots around the islands for ultimate reef exploration.

3. Great Barrier Reef Adventures

Cruise Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef Pontoon Whitsundays

Snorkel or dive the Outer Great Barrier Reef on this fun full-day tour. Travel to various locations on Hardy Reef - a unique destination visited by no other tour - on Cruise Whitsundays' custom air-conditioned vessel and spend the day on their exclusive reef pontoon exploring an underwater wonderland teeming with marine life. Including a buffet lunch and morning and afternoon tea, this tour is suitable for snorkellers and both beginner and certified divers. Get ready for a kaleidoscope of colour and a day you will never forget on the Great Barrier Reef!

4. Skydive Airlie Beach

skydive, airlie beach

What could be more spectacular than a bird’s eye view of Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands from up to 15,000 feet! If you’ve always wanted to try skydiving now is the time as you won’t find a more breathtaking location than this! A highly regarded and experienced operator, Skydive Airlie Beach  provides professional training and instruction and has tandem skydiving packages to suit every adrenaline junkie’s budget so there’s no excuse not to take the plunge and have the adventure of a lifetime!

5. Whitsunday Jetski Tours

jetski, airlie beach

Feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you cruise the Whitsundays in style - no experience necessary! Whitsunday Jetski Tours offer 3 action-packed tours all with a professional guide, all riding gear, free transfers from your Airlie Beach accommodation and free photos.

Choose from; the Airlie Adventure, a thrilling 1.5 hour experience around Airlie’s harbour and coastline; the Two Island Safari, a 2 hour jetski adventure through the Coral Sea to Daydream and South Molle Islands; and the Daydream Extreme Jetski Tour which includes 2 hours of jetskiing, a 2 hour Daydream Island stopover, woodfired pizza lunch and a guided Living Reef experience!

Whitsunday Jetski Tours offer a great day out on the water with plenty of opportunity to spot turtles, seabirds and even dugongs while zipping around.

6. Atlantic Clipper

Atlantic clipper, whitsundays

Jump aboard the Whitsunday’s very own playground on the water for a fun-filled day aboard Atlantic Clipper! A great value day tour for backpackers, Clipper visits the popular destinations of Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet as well as renowned snorkelling spots near Hook Island and includes all snorkelling gear, morning/afternoon tea and lunch. This 34m party boat also features a hot tub, not one but two waterslides and stand up paddle boards to use once you return from adventuring. You’ll have the time of your life aboard Atlantic Clipper!


Overnight Tours For Backpackers

An overnight sailing tour is often the highlight of a trip to the Whitsunday Islands and it’s easy to see why. What could be better than sailing through paradise with a group of fun-loving people, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, exploring tropical islands and taking advantage of the many free activities such as onboard hot tubs, stand-up paddleboards, glass-bottom canoes and giant slides! There are many budget-friendly Whitsunday sailing tours available and all visit the heavenly Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet and are fully catered with 3 meals a day plus snacks!

1. Siska 2D/1N

Siska Whitsundays

Experience some speedy sailing onboard the ex-racing maxi yacht Siska. This sailboat takes 22 passengers on a fun social tour of the Whitsundays with plenty of swimming, snorkelling and beach time. Featuring only shared accommodation, Siska is popular for fun-loving travellers looking to meet new people!

2. Hammer 3D/2N

hammer, whitsundays

Jump on Australian yachting legend Hammer and travel at speed from one incredible destination to the next on this day tour to remember. This affordable, young, fun tour is ideal for backpackers and solo travellers looking for the ultimate maxi experience in the Whitsundays without breaking the bank. Featuring great food and lots of it, some epic snorkelling and a great racing history, you’re sure to enjoy your time onboard Hammer.

3. Atlantic Clipper 2D/2N

Atlantic Clipper Whitsundays

Atlantic Clipper is one of the most social trips in the Whitsundays! A giant party on the water, Atlantic Clipper offers swimming, snorkelling and plenty of socialising plus an onboard spa and a giant slide! Sailing on ‘Clipper' is a fun, unforgettable experience and a budget-friendly trip for both backpackers and solo travellers.

4. Broomstick 4D/3N

broomstick, whitsundaysSocialising, sunbathing, snorkelling and sailing - the perfect Whitsunday itinerary! This 22m maxi is designed for speed and the knowledgeable crew are more than happy to provide some hands-on sailing tuition as you cruise the Coral Sea. Explore the fringing reefs by day and party at night - if you feel the need for speed, Broomstick is your vessel!

5. Condor 4D/3N

condor, whitsundays

Fancy sailing the Whitsundays on a fast famous racing yacht? Condor was designed for pure power, speed and adrenaline and offers an authentic sailing experience you will never forget! A very popular tour for backpackers seeking adventure, Condor provides an all-inclusive Whitsundays tour with a social atmosphere that you are sure to love.

6. New Horizon 2D/2N

New Horizon Whitsundays

Are you craving fun and adventure? Well, say hello to New Horizon's giant slide! One of the most popular tours on Australia’s east coast, New Horizon takes 32 passengers on a social tour through the islands with many extras such as snorkelling, scuba diving, paddleboarding and even an optional jet boat ride. When you’re all partied out there will even be time to soak up the sun on the deck or relax in the air-conditioned movie room!

7. Tongarra 2D/2N 

tongarra, whitsundays

A great tour for the budget-conscious, the bright red catamaran known as Tongarra boasts plenty of deck space and a stellar reputation for exceeding expectations. Lay back and relax in the sun on deck as you cruise through the jewel-coloured waters of the Whitsundays. This trip is incredibly fun and the great social atmosphere makes it ideal for solo travellers. 

8. Apollo 3D/2N

Apollo Sailing Maxi Whitsundays

Diving on the Great Barrier List is on many people’s bucket lists and if it’s not on yours, it should be! Apollo is a full-service dive vessel offering 26 passengers the opportunity of a lifetime with her own onboard dive crew and all necessary equipment. No experience necessary, diving on Apollo is suitable for both certified divers and those who are looking for their first diving experience. Visiting some of the most popular dive sites, such as Blue Pearl Bay or Luncheon Bay, all passengers receive one FREE dive, snorkelling, fast sailing and more!


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