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How Long Does It Take To Get To Whitehaven Beach?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Mon 19 Feb 2024

Australia's most iconic beach, Whitehaven Beach, is very remote and yet it's quite easy to get to! This dreamy beach is unique because you can't just drive there and have a casual beach day. Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsunday Island, about 30km offshore from Airlie Beach in Queensland. So you can only get there by boat, seaplane, or helicopter!

For those wondering how long it takes to get to Whitehaven Beach, your travel time will depend on how choose to get there. Travelling by air is faster than travelling by boat, but either way, the journey to Whitehaven is part of the fun! Your departure point will also affect how long it takes to get to Whitehaven Beach. Tours depart from both Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island daily. So let's break down how long it really takes to get to Whitehaven Beach!

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Cruise Ship Passengers: Can I get to Whitehaven Beach in a day?

You can visit Whitehaven Beach in a day, but realistically it can take up the entire day. Which, if you are on a cruise ship, can make it difficult to line up Whitehaven day tour departure times with cruise docking times. To avoid missing out on visiting the iconic beach, the best thing you can do is book a private charter from Airlie Beach. Private charters to Whitehaven Beach allow you the flexibility to choose your departure time and personalise your itinerary. Plus you get the boat to yourselves, and have your own crew!

Here are the perfect private charters for you and your loved ones that will get you to Whitehaven Beach and back within a few hours, ensuring you don't miss your cruise ship! 

 *Please note to check before you book that the private charters will line up with your exact cruise ship schedule. 

A couple standing at a lookout smiling at each other

How Long Does It Take To Get To Whitehaven Beach?

There are a few factors that will affect how long it takes to get to Whitehaven Beach: your method of travel and your departure point. We're going to discuss all the different ways you can get to Whitehaven Beach and how long each journey will take. But remember, travelling to Whitehaven Beach can be just as stunning as the beach itself! Enjoy the views of the vibrant sapphire ocean and the surrounding tropical islands. The Whitsundays are one of the most gorgeous destinations in Australia!

Here are a handful of our most popular Whitehaven Beach tours!

Hill Inlet

Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach By Boat 

  • Travel time: 1.5 - 2 hours for powerboats, 3 - 4 hours for sailboats

Airlie Beach is the most popular departure point for Whitehaven Beach! This cozy coastal town on the mainland acts as the Gateway to the Whitsundays, so there are lots of top-rated tours departing Airlie Beach for the islands every day. 

Day tours from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven Beach by boat can take anywhere from 1.5 - 2 hours for high-speed vessels to approximately 3 - 4 hours for sailboats. If you want to reach the beach quickly, book a speedy boat like Whitsunday Bullet, Thundercat, or Ocean Rafting. Unique vessels like Viper travel fast enough to get you to Whitehaven Beach and the Outer Reef in one day!

Or you can enjoy a more leisurely ride on sailboats like Camira or Providence. Many boat tours offer snorkelling, so you might stop at a reef site before you get to the beach. This will help break up the journey and give you time to explore the fringing reefs!


Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach By Air

  • Travel time: 15 minutes

One of the most incredible ways to get to Whitehaven Beach is by air. Whitehaven Beach air tours in a seaplane or helicopter will usually take around 15 minutes to reach the beach if you fly directly there. Some scenic flights like the Air Whitsundays Seaplane Panorama Tour or the GSL Whitehaven Helicopter Tour will fly you to the beach and land right on the ground! You'll feel like you're in a dream as you step off a helicopter right onto the white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach!

Or if you're short on time, you can book air tours that just fly over the beach without landing. You'll also get to fly over the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and get an amazing view of the famous Heart Reef

scenic flight whitehaven

Whitehaven Beach From Hamilton Island By Boat 

  • Travel time: 30 - 45 minutes

Hamilton Island also offers day boat tours to Whitehaven Beach. Because Hamilton Island is located off the coast in the midst of the Coral Sea, it's actually much closer to Whitsunday Island. So from Hamilton Island's marina, you can cruise over to Whitehaven Beach in just 30 - 45 minutes!

Whitehaven Beach is 7km long, and at the northern end you'll find Hill Inlet Lookout and the famous swirling sands. Hamilton Island is located closer to the southern end of the beach, so when you book a boat tour, double-check whether it takes you all the way to the northern end or if you're just visiting the nearby southern end.  

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach From Hamilton Island By Air

  • Travel time: 5-10 minutes

Hamilton Island also has its own airport! So you can book scenic flights over Whitehaven Beach right from Hamilton Island. Being so close to Whitsunday Island, you'll find yourself soaring over Whitehaven in a matter of minutes. Hamilton Island Air offers fly and cruise options where you can land on a Great Barrier Reef pontoon in addition to flying over the reef and islands. This allows you to snorkel and explore the reef from the sea as well as view Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef from the air!

Heart Reef

Whitehaven Beach Via Overnight Boat Tour

Arguably the best way to get to Whitehaven Beach is on an overnight boat tour. Though this isn't the quickest way to reach Whitehaven Beach, this is the ultimate, immersive Whitsunday experience. Over the course of a few days, you'll sail around the islands on a maxi yacht or catamaran with a fun crew of people. Spend a few nights at sea, watch the sunrise over the ocean, snorkel in remote reef sites, and just enjoy the tranquility of the Coral Sea.

All overnight sailing tours include Whitehaven Beach in their itinerary, but there is no rush to get there and there is no rush to leave the beach! Multiple days at sea give you ample time to explore at a more relaxed pace. So if you have more than one day to spare, make the most of the Whitsundays with an overnight boat tour!

Whitehaven Beach Whitsunday Blue

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