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Essential Packing List For The Whitsundays

Updated Wed 22 May 2024

If you have an upcoming trip to the Whitsundays, you might be wondering what you should pack. In order to help you prepare for your trip in the best possible way, we have created a list of essential items that you should bring.

It's a great idea to bring a day pack in addition to your regular luggage so you’ll have something to bring along with you for any tours you do while in the Whitsundays! The main tourist areas in the Whitsundays, such as Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island, are well equipped with shops as well in case you need to buy anything once you arrive. 

whitehaven, hiking

Packing List for the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach

From the right clothing and footwear, to camera gear and sun protection, here is what you need to pack for the Whitsundays. With a tropical climate, you can stick with mostly wearing summer clothes and swimwear. Just consider the nature of your trip while packing! For example, if you're travelling with kids you may need to pack extra toys or essentials. If you're going to do some hiking or camping, maybe you want to bring hiking shoes or your own camping gear. But regardless of your travel style, here are some essentials to wear and bring to the Whitsundays. 

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When you're considering what to wear in the Whitsundays and in Airlie Beach, it's important to take the climate into consideration.

The Whitsundays have a tropical climate, so the weather is warm for most of the year. In winter the mornings and evenings can be cooler, and in the summer the weather tends to be more humid or rainy. 

Staple items of clothing will include shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and swimwear. Compared to most parts of the world, it is relatively humid in the Whitsundays, which means packing thin, breathable clothing is key. If you're visiting in winter or going on an overnight boat tour, consider some layers to stay warm!

  • Shorts
  • Breathable T-shirts or tank tops
  • Breezy sundresses for women
  • Swimwear
  • Rash shirt (if you’re prone to burning, this will keep you covered)
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Sweater or light jacket for the cooler months

travellers with champagne on a boat in the whitsundays


As you will notice in most parts of Australia, the national footwear is thongs (flip-flops)! They are the staple shoe for locals and travellers alike and you’ll spot a lot of people wearing them all over the country, especially in the Whitsundays.

Other than that, a sturdy pair of footwear is also a good idea. If you plan to hike, skydive or do anything that will need a bit more durability, sneakers or some other type of closed-toe shoe will come in handy. Another thing to think about is water footwear - if you think you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water, water shoes can be useful!

  • Thongs (flip-flops)
  • Sneakers or hiking shoes
  • Water shoes if you wish

Medicines and Toiletries

As well as suitable clothing and footwear, don't forget to pack any essential medicines or toiletries that you may need. You will also be able to find most things you need in chemists and pharmacies in the Whitsundays. There are two on the main street of Airlie Beach and a couple in Cannonvale, so you will have a variety of shops if needed.

However, it’s a good idea to take staple items along with you including painkillers, topical cream (for rashes or irritated skin), insect repellent, and sunscreen! Remember - the sun here is very strong, so keeping your skin protected is important. It's also worth packing a moisturiser and aloe vera. 

  • Painkillers
  • Topical cream
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Moisturizer 
  • Deodorant 
  • Aloe vera
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Any of your own essential medications

sunscreen, whitsundays


The Whitsundays is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. The tropical islands, warm blue water and white-sand beaches are what dreams are made of! To make sure you have these images for a lifetime, you’ll want to bring along a camera or GoPro to capture everything along the way.

Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time around or in the water, waterproof equipment is essential! If you have a GoPro, make sure it has a waterproof casing and floating attachment - you won’t want to lose your memories to the ocean!

  • Camera or smartphone
  • GoPro
  • Attachments
  • Batteries
  • Waterproof case
  • Floating attachment 

turtle selfie

Other Essentials

Don't forget your other basic travel essentials for a visit to the Whitsundays! Again, you can usually buy most things in Airlie Beach in case you forget anything. 

  • Chargers for cell phone and cameras
  • Battery pack for charging
  • Fast dry towel
  • Day pack
  • Power converter (for overseas visitors)
  • Passport or ID (may be required by hotels for check-in or rental cars, or to buy drinks if you're 18+)
  • Headphones/book/journal or other entertainment for travel days

couple taking a selfie at a whitehaven beach lookout

Packing for an overnight boat trip in the Whitsundays

If you’re going on an overnight boat trip while in the Whitsundays, you’ll have to narrow down your things and bring a small pack with you with your essentials. Most tours do not allow excess luggage and guests are not allowed to bring large suitcases or packs. Most will not allow any luggage with wheels or zippers so having a small, soft bag is essential.

You can store your excess luggage at several places around town, including Airlie Beach Bag Storage, or at various accommodations. You can check with your accommodation beforehand or ask when you call to check in for your boat trip to see if they will store your bags! In order to help you prepare, we’ve made a short list of things to bring with you, but it’s always best to check with your tour of choice for suggestions on what to bring.

  • Swimwear: You will likely be spending plenty of time in the water and on the beach, so make sure you bring along your swimwear!
  • Change of clothes: Make sure you pack a change of clothes or two to change into after finishing your water activities for the day. This includes a sweater or jumper for chilly nights.
  • Battery pack (to charge devices): Some tours will have live access points available, but in the event they don’t, or if they are being used by other passengers, a battery pack will come in handy.
  • Alcohol: Many tours in the Whitsundays are BYO - that is “Bring Your Own Alcohol.” If your boat does not have a licensed bar, you’ll want to bring along any alcohol you will want to consume on your trip. Generally, no glass or red wine is allowed. Check with your particular trip to see if it’s BYO or not.
  • Reusable water bottle: You have to stay hydrated when out in the Whitsunday sun, so make sure you bring a water bottle that you can refill. You can often just fill up your bottle from the tap on the boat and cut down on single-use water bottles.
  • Thongs: While most tours don’t allow the use of footwear on board, you’ll want something on your feet for when you hit dry land again! Many tours do a short bushwalk up on Whitehaven Beach to Hill Inlet Lookout, which will require some footwear. Other than that, you’ll probably be barefoot most of the trip! 
  • Sunscreen: Even if you’re not prone to burning, you’ll want to bring along sunscreen (at least SPF 30). Sunburns tend to increase while snorkelling or while at Whitehaven Beach, so you’ll want to lather up before the day begins.
  • Hat: Sun protection is paramount while on your tour, as nothing quite dampens the day like a bad burn! Stay sun safe and keep on a hat while in the sun to avoid too much exposure. 

Most boat tours will provide you with drinking water, all your food, and things like toilet paper, so you won't need to bring any of that. If you are a big snacker, it is a good idea to bring your own. 

travellers on apollo overnight boat tour in the whitsundays

If you have any other questions about visiting the Whitsundays, live chat with our local travel agents! 

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