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Boat vs Yacht: What Is The Difference?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Sat 20 May 2023

What is the difference between a boat and a yacht? Visitors to the Whitsundays may find themselves asking this question because of the constant presence of both! The Whitsundays is one of the best places to sail in Australia. And with close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and world-famous places like Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island, every type of boat is always on the move in the Whitsundays. 

Let's unpack the differences between boats and yachts so you will feel a bit more prepared and knowledgeable for your trip to Airlie Beach. Whether you're booking a day trip, sunset cruise, overnight sailing tour, or private charter, chances are you'll find yourself on board a boat or a yacht in the Whitsundays. Here is some basic boat knowledge that will help you feel more in-the-know when you arrive in paradise!

Whitsunday boats

Boat vs Yacht: What's The Difference?

The main difference between a boat and a yacht is that yachts are used for luxury purposes. A boat generally refers to any type of water vessel that uses motors, sails, or oars. So "boat" is a more broad term that encompasses many different types of vessels. A yacht is a specific type of boat. 

There isn't really one exact definition of "yacht", however most yachts are at least 10 metres in length and most of them are aesthetically pleasing. Many yachts are used for racing, so they're generally made of optimal materials. Some luxury yachts and superyachts are often used for pleasure and entertainment, and most of them have cabins where you can sleep overnight. 

The main takeaway for the question of "boat vs yacht", is that boats are a general term referring to all types of water vessels, whereas yachts are luxury boats that are usually bigger, better, and fancier. 

Sailing Whitsundays

Common Types Of Boats In The Whitsundays


Boats that are powered by the wind in their sails are considered sailboats! Some sailboats also have motors and some are solely run using sails. Either way, sailing allows you to drift through the sea in harmony with the elements. Sailing is one of the most common past times in the Whitsundays due to the great conditions and beautiful scenery. It's also an important part of Whitsunday history!

If you want to try sailing in the Whitsundays, there are endless opportunities! Book an overnight sailing tour or a sailing day tour. Or you can book into a sailing course if you want to learn the ropes yourself!

British Defender


Speedboats are designed for speed, of course! Designed to run at high speeds and equipped with a motor, speedboats are a fun and fast way to zip around the Whitsundays. Speedboats are most common for day trips because they can get you to and from the best locations in a short time. Whitsunday Bullet, Ocean Rafting, and Thundercat are some of the most popular speedboats in the Whitsundays. You can also book speedboats for private charter!

Ocean Rafting


A catamaran is simply defined as a boat with two hulls. The hulls are parallel to each other and help distribute the weight of the vessel evenly across the water. Catamaran rides are generally very smooth and stable, and they can be powered by motors, sails, or both.

Whitsunday Bullet is a catamaran that has a motor so it can also be considered a speedboat. Powerplay is another one of the Whitsundays' most popular catamarans, which offers 2-day, 3-day, and 4-day tours. Catamarans that have sails include Getaway, Adventurer, Whitsunday Blue,  and On Ice


Maxi Yachts

A maxi yacht is designed for racing and is generally over 21 metres in length. These massive boats are built with premium materials, and many of them have completed impressive races or journeys around the world. Some maxi yachts retire from their racing days in the Whitsundays and operate as tour boats, including Apollo and British Defender. Other epic maxi yachts you can board include New Horizon, Atlantic Clipper, Solway Voyager, and Siska

Atlantic Clipper

Luxury Yachts

A luxury yacht is exactly what it sounds like: a super stylish and lavish boat! Because a yacht can be defined as a luxury boat with cabins, you can bet that luxury yachts are extra nice! Most luxury yachts have premium amenities like kitchen facilities, bathrooms and showers, and cozy cabins. Some have TVs, entertainment systems, jacuzzis, lounge areas, and plenty of space for storing water sports equipment. There are lots of stunning luxury yachts available for private charter in the Whitsundays!

Luxury Jacuzzi

Charter A Yacht In The Whitsundays

Chartering a yacht in the Whitsundays just might be one of the best holidays of your life! Though you can book sailing trips around the pristine islands and coral reefs on a guided tour, a private charter allows you to have the same experience but without the gamble or a tour group. You can choose your own friends and family to hop on board with you, and let the experienced skipper and host take care of the meals, planning, maintenance, and sailing. 

Whether you're looking to charter a small yacht for a few friends, or a huge yacht for a big celebration, there are so many amazing options. You can charter a yacht for a day trip, a sunset sail, or book an overnight charter and spend the night out at sea in a cozy cabin. Most yacht charters allow you to customize your own itinerary so you can curate your dream vacation in paradise!

Private Charter

No matter what type of boat you want to see, the Whitsundays have it all! Chat with our local travel experts online or call us at +61 74914 2425 and we'll help you plan the perfect trip!

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