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How Do You Travel Around The Whitsundays?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Tue 24 Jan 2023

For those wondering, “How do you travel around the Whitsundays?”, the best way to get around is by local boat tours. You could also charter your own boat if you want to plan your own adventure through the Whitsundays! Or if you want to travel around the Whitsundays by air and see the scenery from above, you can fly over the islands via seaplane or helicopter. Read on for more information about how to travel around the Whitsundays!

great barrier reef boat

How To Get To The Whitsundays

Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays, so you can plan all your travel from the town center! The Whitsunday Islands is one of the most famous travel destinations in Australia. Based on photos of the sparkling white sand, exotic marine life, and mountainous tropical islands, the Whitsundays may seem like a far-fetched, unreachable paradise. But they are located right off the coast of Queensland just around 20-30km from Airlie Beach!

You can get to the Whitsundays by flying into Proserpine Airport. From there it’s just a 30-minute drive to the Airlie Beach town center. Or if you’re road-tripping around Australia, just drive straight to Airlie Beach! In town, you can book all of your tours or boat charters so you can travel around the Whitsundays. 

aerial view of whitsundays

Best Sights In The Whitsundays

When wondering how to travel around the Whitsundays, it is also helpful to know the best places to go! There are 74 islands in the Whitsundays and 8 of them are inhabited. Most of them have stunning beaches, untouched tropical rainforests, and coral reefs that offer world-class snorkeling and scuba diving

The most popular place to visit is Whitsunday Island, which is home to the iconic Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout. Hamilton Island is also a fun destination where you can try water sports, hike in the forest, and visit the island's various bars, restaurants, cafes, and attractions. And of course, the Great Barrier Reef is a highlight! Visit various reef sites and pontoons where you can snorkel and scuba dive amongst vibrant marine life and colorful corals! 

Hook Island is another cool spot to visit, which is home to the fascinating Ngaro Cultural Site. Hayman Island is for those who want a luxury escape, and the four Molle Islands offer incredible opportunities for hiking, camping, snorkeling, and more. There are many more places you should visit while traveling around the Whitsundays, but those are some of the highlights!

person posing at hill inlet lookout

How Do You Travel Around The Whitsundays

Once you arrive in Airlie Beach, you can travel around the Whitsundays by boat or by air. Boat tours are the most popular way to travel around the Whitsundays. There are so many reputable boat tours that leave Airlie Beach for the islands every day. Whether you want to just do day trips, or you want to try a multi-day sailing tour, boat tours allow you to see the island scenery, snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, and spend quality time with the untouched beauty of the Whitsundays. 

people on a boat tour

Whitsunday Boat Tours: Day Trips

One way to travel around the Whitsundays is to do day trips. This is the best option for travelers on a budget! Day tours are the most affordable boat tours, and many of them cost less than $200! You can take day trips to Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island, and the outer reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.

You can even book day trip combos and get a deal on a few different day trips! Just keep in mind you’ll also have to pay for accommodation on the mainland if you're just doing day trips. Our accommodation packages make it easy to combine day tours with accommodation!

But day trips are an easy option for those who would rather relax in one place as opposed to hopping around. Pick a comfortable accommodation in Airlie Beach where you can set up a base. There are cheap backpacker hostels, cozy holiday rentals, as well as apartments and hotels. Get acquainted with the area and travel around the Whitsundays with quick, easy, and cheap day trips by boat! 

two girls going snorkeling

Whitsunday Boat Tours: Multi-Day Tours

Another one of the best ways to travel around the Whitsundays is a multi-day sailing tour. This is definitely a more immersive Whitsundays experience as you’ll actually be spending the night out on the sea! Most multi-day tours are 2 nights and either 2 or 3 days. You’ll also visit highlights of the area such as Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, and the Great Barrier Reef. 

There is a wide variety of multi-day tours available that will suit different types of travelers. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly sailing tour, a budget-friendly backpacker tour, or an adventurous sailing tour, there is something in store for you.

Those with more time to spare can also check out 3-day, 3-night sailing tours. Alternatively, those with only 1 night to spare can find 2-day, 1-night tours. Whatever you are looking for, there are so many awesome sailing tours that allow you to travel around the Whitsundays by boat and sleep out at sea. 

backpackers on a sailboat

Charter A Boat In The Whitsundays

For those who want to travel around the Whitsundays without a tour, the only other option is to charter your own boat! Private charters are widely available in Airlie Beach. You can charter a boat for a day trip, for an overnight excursion, or for a sunset sail. Or if you’re looking for something more specific, such as overnight catamaran charters, large group charters, or family-friendly charters, you can find something that suits your needs. 

Chartering a private boat allows you to travel around the Whitsundays according to your own schedule. You won’t have to share your boat with any other travelers, and you’ll have a small crew of experienced locals to help you with sailing, preparing meals, and ensuring everything runs smoothly. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

couple on a sunset sail

Travel Around The Whitsundays By Air

Another way to travel around the Whitsundays is by air. Whether you’re hopping aboard a seaplane or a helicopter, flying over the Whitsundays will bless you with some of the best views of your life! While flying over the Whitsundays is incredible, it is also pretty quick. Most scenic flights are only a couple of hours, with the occasional stop on Whitehaven Beach

So if you’re short on time and you want spectacular aerial views of the islands and the Great Barrier Reef, a scenic flight or helicopter tour is a great way to travel around the Whitsundays. You can also book combo packages that include a scenic flight and a boat tour. This option allows you to explore the seas and go snorkeling, but you also get that birds-eye view of the picturesque islands. 

seaplane whitsundays

What Is The Best Way To See The Whitsundays?

Boat tours, private charters, and scenic flights are all amazing ways to travel around the Whitsundays. The best one for you will depend on your time frame and travel style. If you’re short on time, a scenic flight may be the best option. Soar over the highlights and snap some postcard-worthy photos. 

If you have 2 or 3 days to explore the Whitsundays, a multi-day sailing tour would be ideal. You can hop aboard a sailboat in Airlie Beach and let your guide sail you through the islands for a couple of days. Swim, snorkel, explore, and relax on board without having to worry about how to get around or where to go. The tour is all taken care of for you!

If you have 4 days or more to spend in the Whitsundays, your best option may be to just stay in Airlie Beach on the mainland and take a few day trips! Pick a day trip combo package or just pick and choose which day trips appeal to you. Or you can charter your own boat and plan your own adventure through the Whitsundays!

people on a boat, whitsundays

Check out our most popular day tours, scenic flights, and private charters for the best ways to travel around the Whitsundays!

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