How long does it take to sail to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach?

Updated 29/12/21

For the average sailboat travelling between 7 and 9 knots, it takes approximately two and a half hours to sail to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach, on the 17 nautical mile journey. As the Whitsundays region receives year-round South-East trade winds, sailboats cannot directly sail towards Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach.

Travel times will vary depending on the sailing vessel you choose to travel on, the tide and local weather. For those travelling directly by motorboat from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island, at an average speed of 20 knots, it will take approximately 40 minutes.

For those travelling by ferry from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island, or vice versa, it will take approximately 60 minutes

Sailing route from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island, Map of the Whitsunday IslandsRecommended sailing route from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island.

The majority of day and overnight sailing trips, in addition to bareboat charters, depart from the Coral Sea Marina at Airlie Beach.

We recommend you spend more than one night at Airlie Beach, to take in all that the bustling, seaside town has to offer - from lavish restaurants offering breathtaking views of the marina and locally-sourced fresh seafood, scenic walks that offer panoramic outlooks of the Whitsundays coastline, and a multitude of vibrant nightlife options along the main street!

Different ways to sail to and from Hamilton Island

Bareboat Sailing 

Have complete freedom as you take the ropes and sail yourself around Hamilton Island and the surrounding islands of the Whitsundays, with a variety of bareboat vessel options to choose from depending on the size of your group and trip you want to have. Hoist the mainsail and glide along the calm water of the Whitsundays!

Group of people sailing a Bareboat Vessel around the Whitsundays

Private Vessel Charters from Hamilton Island

Experience Hamilton Island and the Whitsundays at its best onboard a luxurious private vessel! With a range of premium sailing vessels to choose from, a private day or overnight charter departing from Hamilton Island provides the perfect itinerary for your next special event, holiday, or family get-together!

Group of people onboard a private vessel charter around the Whitsundays

Popular Day Tours

Choose to freestyle around the numerous panoramic lookouts at Hamilton Island and relax along the shorelines of Cateye Beach on a day trip to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach. An ideal option for those travellers with limited time in the Whitsundays, and are craving a cocktail by the poolside in luxury!

Two women drinking cocktails in the pool at Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

Ferry to and from Hamilton Island

Another popular, hassle-free way to get to Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour is by ferry. The ferry trip from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island Marina or Airport takes approximately 60 minutes and operates multiple times a day for travellers to the region. Run by Cruise Whitsundays, it boasts stunning views of the Whitsundays during the short journey!

Cruise Whitsundays ferry arriving at Hamilton Island Marina

If you are travelling by car to Airlie Beach via the Bruce Highway from either Brisbane or Cairns, there are multiple easily-accessible places in Airlie Beach to park your car. Whilst there are a variety of sites to park your car for free, parking at Cruise Whitsundays Maritime Car Park for a flat rate of $10 per day is the most convenient option for those travelling to and from Hamilton Island by ferry. 

Commercial flights to and from Hamilton Island

Travellers to the world-renowned Whitsundays region often choose to fly into the Whitsunday Coast Airport (PPP) located in Proserpine, or directly to the Hamilton Island Airport (HTI), as this is the most convenient mode of transport from the major cities. Hamilton Island is the only Whitsunday island that boasts its own commercial airport, with direct flights flying in and out from Brisbane, Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne. Let the locals fill you in on how to get to Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach by air!

Aerial view of Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

When planning your tropical escape to the idyllic coastlines of Hamilton Island from Airlie Beach, don't forget to check out our recommended packing list. A hat, sunscreen, and swimsuit are essentials for you to unwind on the islands of the Whitsundays!

Contact our friendly, local staff on +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat today to plan your idyllic sailing experience to Hamilton Island and its surrounds!

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