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How Long Do You Need On Whitehaven Beach?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Tue 04 Jul 2023

Whitehaven Beach is undoubtedly one of the best things to see in the Whitsundays, if not THE best sight! Travellers from all over the world flock to the Whitsundays in the hopes of seeing this magnificent, remote, and gorgeous beach with their own eyes. On any day trip or overnight sailing tour of the Whitsundays, a visit to Whitehaven is always a highlight. 

But how long do you actually need to spend on Whitehaven Beach? Yes, it's physically stunning, with pristine turquoise water and velvety soft white sand. And Hill Inlet is a feast for the eyes, where the sand and sea swirl together to create a scene straight out of a postcard. But what is there to do at Whitehaven Beach? This article will explore how much time you should spend on Whitehaven so you can plan your perfect Whitsunday getaway and make the most of every moment!

Hill Inlet Lookout

How Long Do You Need On Whitehaven Beach?

Most travellers are content with spending 2-4 hours at Whitehaven Beach, though every person has different travel styles and every Whitsunday tour is unique. The amount of time you need on Whitehaven Beach will just depend on how much of a beach lover you are! You could easily spend an entire day at Whitehaven, especially if you're someone who adores sunbathing, swimming, and strolling on the sand. It is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so beach lovers will have the time of their life here. 

If you're someone who loves the beach, but isn't content hanging out on the beach all day, you might just prefer a shorter visit. Most tours allot for at least 2.5 hours on Whitehaven Beach. Before booking a tour, just read the itinerary in-depth to ensure it suits you. You can book tours that prioritize Whitehaven Beach and give you plenty of time there, or you can choose a tour that focuses on other sights and activities in the Whitsundays and just gives you 2-3 hours to enjoy the beach. 

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

Whitehaven Beach

North Whitehaven Beach vs. South Whitehaven Beach

When planning your trip to Whitehaven Beach, it's important to note the difference between the southern end and the northern end. Some tours take guests to both North and South Whitehaven Beach, and some only visit one or the other. North Whitehaven is probably more popular, simply because here you can access Hill Inlet Lookout. South Whitehaven Beach is better for escaping the crowds, as it's 7km long and easy to find a spot with no other tourists around!

Hill Inlet

South Whitehaven Beach

The southern end of Whitehaven Beach consists of 7km of smooth, silky silica sand. This sand is famous for its softness and purity - you can use it to polish jewelry and it doesn't retain heat so it's always soothing to the touch. South Whitehaven is just a long, flat stretch of this famous silica sand framed by the calm, turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. There is a campground at the southern end of Whitehaven, and there are a few bushwalks and hiking trails in the forest that lies next to the beach on Whitsunday Island.

South Whitehaven

North Whitehaven Beach 

At the northern end of South Whitehaven, you'll find Hill Inlet. This is the famous location where the white sand and sapphire waters swirl together, attracting photographers from all over the world. Just north of Hill Inlet lies North Whitehaven Beach.

This section of white silica sand is smaller than South Whitehaven, but it's just as heavenly. Here is where you can access the bushwalk that takes you up to Hill Inlet Lookout, the best viewpoint of the swirling sands. You can also walk around the corner from North Whitehaven Beach to find Betty's Beach, a beautiful secluded cove. Most tours prioritize North Whitehaven so guests can see Hill Inlet Lookout, but some half-day trips don't visit the northern end so be sure to check your itinerary when booking. 

Bettys Beach

What Is There To Do At Whitehaven Beach?

There are lots of fun things to do at Whitehaven Beach, so you definitely won't be bored here! Whether you're on a guided day trip, a multi-day sailing tour, a helicopter tour, or you've chartered a boat and are visiting on your own, here are some of the activities you may get to enjoy during your day at Whitehaven Beach. 



The best thing to do at Whitehaven Beach is just admire the views. Go for a lengthy walk, get your camera out, and soak it all in. Have a picnic on the sand, splash around in the water, and take photos until your camera battery dies. It's a truly gorgeous place, so you don't really need to do much here besides just relax and admire the natural beauty.



The most popular activity at Whitehaven Beach is hiking to Hill Inlet Lookout for the iconic view. This leisurely bushwalk takes about 30-40 minutes one-way, depending on your fitness level. If you're visiting South Whitehaven Beach, there are some excellent bushwalks here as well. The walk to Chance Bay and the Whitsunday Peak hike are popular treks, though these hikes generally aren't included in most tour itineraries. Consider a private charter if you want to take on some of these more remote hikes, or chat with us live online to see if there are any tours that include these hikes!

Whitsunday hikes

Swimming and Water Sports

Whitehaven Beach has calm, clear, heavenly water that is a dream for swimming in. At both ends of the beach, you can swim, paddleboard, or kayak through the stunning waters. Be on the lookout for stingrays and lemon sharks that often frequent the waters here (they are generally harmless if you admire them from a distance). When swimming at Whitehaven, just remember to wear a stinger suit during the summer months. Guided tours will provide you with stinger suits during stinger season!



You can actually camp overnight at South Whitehaven BeachIt's a very remote, walk-in campsite, so make sure you bring all your camping supplies and equipment with you. But if you want to spend a few days at the world's most beautiful beach, consider immersing yourself in the wilderness at the local campground. This is also a great way to escape the crowds, as most tourists leave Whitehaven Beach by sundown. 

Sunset Whitehaven

So How Long Do You Need At Whitehaven Beach?

So most travellers are happy with spending 2-4 hours at Whitehaven Beach on a day trip or overnight sailing tourA few hours gives you time to soak in the views, hike to Hill Inlet, and have some free time to walk or swim in the warm, turquoise waters. After some time at Whitehaven, most tours bring you to other nearby islands and reefs for epic snorkelling and water sports. 

But if you're a real beach lover and you want a more immersive adventure, you can absolutely spend a full day or more at Whitehaven. Charter a boat and sleep onboard right near the beach, or camp overnight at South Whitehaven. There is no shortage of things to do here, but no matter how long you spend at Whitehaven Beach, your time is sure to be memorable.

Whitehaven swimming

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