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How Do You Get To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Mon 19 Feb 2024

If you’re wondering how to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach, you can travel by boat, seaplane, or helicopter. There are lots of guided day trips and overnight reef tours that take a lot of the planning off your hands. The way you choose to travel to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach is up to you, but you are sure to have a breathtaking journey regardless!

Whitehaven Beach is arguably one of the most stunning beaches in the world. It is located on Whitsunday Island, the largest island in the chain of Whitsundays Islands off the coast of Tropical North Queensland. Airlie Beach is the best place to stay on mainland Australia when planning a trip out to the Whitsundays! It is a lively town with lots of amenities and it’s within close proximity to the islands. 

So if you’re wondering, “How do you get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach?”, this article will explore the various tours, boats, helicopters, and seaplanes you could take to reach this unbelievably beautiful destination. 

Swirling sands of Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays

How Do You Get To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach?

The two main ways to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach are by boat or by seaplane. Traveling by boat is the most popular way to get to Whitehaven Beach, simply because it is the easiest and most affordable.

Boats depart from either the Port of Airlie Marina or the Coral Sea Marina daily. Both marinas are within a 15-minute walk from downtown Airlie Beach. Some tours to Whitehaven Beach may depart from Shute Harbor, which is a quick 10-minute drive from downtown. 

Here are some of the most popular boat trips to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach!

A seaplane or helicopter is a more extravagant way to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach. Though seaplanes and helicopters are more expensive than boats, the birds-eye view you get from the sky is unmatched.

The Whitsundays Islands are some of the most gorgeous places in Australia, and maybe even the world. Picture lots of lush, green, mountainous islands rising up out of the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. And as you approach Whitehaven Beach, you’ll get the most incredible view of the swirling white sands

Most seaplanes and helicopters to Whitehaven Beach depart from Proserpine Airport, which is a 30 minute drive from downtown Airlie Beach. You can take a taxi or a local bus to reach the airport. Some flights may also leave from Whitsunday Airport in Shute Harbor. So whether you want to fly or take a boat, it’s easy to travel to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie! 

person holing up soft white sand on Whitehaven Beach

How Long Does It Take To Get To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach?

The amount of time it takes to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach depends on your form of transport. A scenic flight to Whitehaven Beach will only take about 15 minutes from Airlie Beach. So if you’re short on time, flying is definitely the fastest way to get to Whitehaven Beach. 

A boat ride from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven can take anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on the type of boat. High-speed boats like the Whitsunday Bullet can get you to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach in about an hour. This is a great way to reach the island paradise in an efficient manner. 

Sailboats are for those who want a more leisurely experience. Sailboats are a bit slower and you can reach Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach in about two hours. If you have plenty of time to spare for your exploration of the Whitsundays, you can even book multi-day sailing tours that stop at Whitehaven Beach and continue to travel through the islands at a more relaxed pace. 

Camira sailboat on the water in the Whitsundays

Can I get to Whitehaven Beach if I am a Cruise Ship Guest?

If you are a guest in Airlie Beach who arrived via cruise ship, it's likely that you only have a few hours to spare. Although you probably won't make it to Whitehaven Beach on a day tour, there is still hope for you! Your best bet of visiting Whitehaven Beach on limited time is to book a private charter. Private charters will give you flexible departure and return times, and a personalised itinerary so you can plan how long you'd like to spend on the iconic beach, ensuring you don't miss your cruise!

The best private charters to Whitehaven Beach for cruise ship guests include Salty Escapade Half Day Private CharterAxopar 37 Half Day Private Charter and Sun Aura Whitsunday Islands Private Charter

A girl sitting on the shoulders of a man at a beach

Whitehaven Beach Tours From Airlie Beach

Now that you know how to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach, you may be wondering which tours to actually book for your trip out to the Whitsunday Islands. For a number of reasons, It’s recommended to book a guided tour as opposed to just catching the ferries from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven Beach. 

Tours often include lunch and snorkeling gear, which is convenient because there are no facilities at Whitehaven Beach besides public toilets. Tours also take away the hassle of planning your trip so you can just relax and enjoy the postcard-worthy scenery. 

Here is a quick overview of the best Whitehaven Beach tours from Airlie Beach, whether you want to sail or fly. 

two girls with snorkel gear on a beach in the Whitsundays

Best Boat Tours To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach

Now that you know how to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach, we'll recommend some of the best tours to choose from. There are so many tour options in the Whitsundays so it can overwhelming trying to choose a tour! But these are favourites among travellers that will guarantee you a great time on Whitehaven. 

Day Tours To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach:

Sealink: Half Day and Full Day Tours

The quickest and easiest day tour to Whitehaven Beach is Purely Whitehaven with Sealink. If all you want to see is Whitehaven Beach, this half day tour takes you straight from Shute Harbor to the sandy white shores of Whitehaven. Spend 3 hours here before heading back to Airlie. 

Whitehaven Big Island Tour also focuses on Whitehaven as the main stop. But it’s a full day tour so you get to enjoy a longer cruise around the islands where you can see more of the scenery. 

Whitsunday Bullet

The Whitsunday Bullet is one of the most popular day tours to Whitehaven Beach. This comfortable boat travels at 25 knots and quickly gets you over to the white sands of Whitehaven. You can climb up to Hill Inlet Lookout for the best views of the beach, then enjoy lunch and a snorkeling session amongst the Great Barrier Reef

Camira Whitsundays

Camira Whitsundays is another incredible option that combines the pace of a speedboat with the relaxing luxury of a catamaran. Camira is one of the world’s fastest sailing catamarans, so you can travel from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven Beach in no time. 

Ocean Rafting

Those who want to prioritize snorkeling can also consider the Ocean Rafting tours. The Ocean Rafting Southern Lights tour brings you over to Whitehaven Beach, where you can spend two hours admiring the breathtaking scenery. Then you’ll get to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and enjoy some talks about the reef and islands from your Skipper and Eco Host. The Northern Exposure tour includes two different snorkel sights around Hook Island in addition to Whitehaven. 

person filpping off a boat into the water in the Whitsundays

Overnight Tours To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach:

Whitsunday Blue

A relaxing catamaran suitable for small groups, Whitsunday Blue promises a relaxing and fun few days out on the water. You can snorkel, enjoy delicious food, watch the sunrise, and of course, spend quality time on Whitehaven!

Summer Jo

Suitable for families or backpackers, Summer Jo is an amazing maxi yacht that can appeal to anyone. Spend your days venturing to hidden gems of the Whitsundays, paddleboarding, snorkelling, and soaking in the scenery. 

Whitsunday Getaway

Whitsunday Getaway is a 2 day, 2 night catamaran tour through the islands that is perfect for couples on a romantic holiday. Stay in a cozy private cabin and combine adventure with relaxation on this luxury catamaran. 

Whitsunday Adventurer

Or if you’re looking for a family-friendly tour, Whitsunday Adventurer includes lots of activities and amenities that will make people of all ages feel comfortable during the 2 days and 2 nights on board. Anyone can have a blast on this awesome Whitsundays tour!

kid on a paddleboard on a boat tour in the Whitsundays

Flights To Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach

There are a few different flight options for visiting Whitehaven Beach. The best way to see Whitehaven Beach by air is with Airlie Beach Helicopters. This helicopter will allow you to fly over the islands and land on the silky sands of Whitehaven. Then you can spend a few hours relaxing on the beach before flying back to Airlie.

If you just want to see the incredible views from above, a Scenic Flight to Heart Reef with Ocean Rafting is the quickest and most affordable option. Soar over Whitehaven Beach before continuing on to other spectacular sights, including the famous Heart Reef! 

There are also a few package options where you can combine a boat tour with a scenic flight. For those who want to make the most of their time in the Whitsundays, a package tour is the best option. For example, the Ocean Rafting Northern Exposure or Southern Lights Tours combine their boat trips to Whitehaven with a scenic flight. So you can experience the paradise that is Whitehaven Beach by land, air, and sea!

aerial vew of whitehaven beach from a seaplane tour

How to get to Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island

You can also get to Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island by boat, plane, or helicopter! Hamilton Island is another breathtaking destination in the Whitsundays Islands. Travelers come to Hamilton Island to go on tropical bushwalks, try water sports on Catseye Beach, sip cocktails by the pool, and just enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of island life. 

Hamilton Island has its own small airport, so there are seaplanes and helicopters that depart from the island. You can also catch a boat from the Hamilton Island Ferry Terminal. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island by boat, and just 15 minutes by plane or helicopter. 

If you do want to combine a visit to Hamilton Island with a trip to Whitehaven Beach, there are numerous sailing packages that include both. You could also book a Whitehaven, Reef, and Hamilton Island package which includes three amazing day tours from Airlie Beach. 

girl in a hammock on the beach in Hamilton Island

Ready to book your excursion to Whitehaven Beach? Give us a call on +61 7 4914 2425 or chat to us online for more info!

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