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The Best Boats For Backpackers In The Whitsundays

Updated Tue 05 Dec 2023

The town of Airlie Beach in North Queensland is a hot spot for backpackers with its budget-friendly accommodation and camping areas, exciting nightlife and of course, its variety of sailing boat trips. It also has amazing weather and a laid-back vibe that make it a perfect place to visit and stay.

Two backpackers walking towards the lookout at Hill Inlet

The Whitsunday Islands, a picture-perfect paradisiacal playground, offer endless opportunities to enjoy sailing around tropical islands, snorkelling fringing reefs and visiting the world famous Whitehaven Beach. And being a backpacker doesn't mean you have to miss out on any of the fun as there are plenty of budget-friendly tour options!

While the cost of a trip can seem a little steep at surface level, it’s a lot easier to appreciate the value for money when you consider what’s included- all of your accommodation, food and activities for the duration, in addition to the most incredible lifelong memories!

A few friends walking and laughing along Whitehaven Beach

If you are hoping to spend your next holiday in Airlie Beach and want to stay and sail as a backpacker, then here are some of the best backpacker trips in the Whitsundays for you to consider:

Atlantic Clipper

Duration: 2D2N

Capacity: 54 passengers

Departure days: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

Departs from: Coral Sea Marina

An aerial shot of Atlantic Clipper

Quite possibly the most iconic and liveliest overnight backpacker tour on the Whitsundays, the Atlantic Clipper almost needs no introduction. With a reputation as an absolute must-do as a backpacker when it comes to visiting this spectacular paradise, this trip is for people who love to socialise as much as they love to adventure!

Sister boat of New Horizon, they follow similar itineraries, including visits to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. There’s snorkeling included, and the opportunity to dive at some of the best fringing reefs in the Whitsundays. In addition to this, there’s a hot tub on board, plus not one but TWO waterslides!

New Horizon

Duration: 2D2N

Capacity: 32 passengers

Departure days: Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays

Departs from: Coral Sea Marina

Bow-side view of New Horizon with a couple of backpackers jumping into the water

If you’re a social butterfly, look no further than New Horizon! This super-social tour boasts a jam-packed itinerary that includes Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, scuba diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding to name but a few. There's also a giant inflatable slide AND a diving board off the side of the boat, so the opportunities for fun are endless! 

Expect nothing but adventure, delicious food, surreal views, lots of new friendships and incredible memories that’ll last a lifetime!


Duration: 2D1N

Capacity: 28 passengers

Departure days: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

Departs from: Port of Airlie

Drone shot of Siska gliding through the water

Siska, a beautiful maxi yacht, is a perfect choice if you’re wanting to hoist those sails and glide through turquoise water around paradise for 2 days. This sociable tour will take you snorkeling at some of the best fringing reefs in the area, in addition to visiting the gorgeous Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout!


Duration: 2D1N

Capacity: 28 passengers

Departure days: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

Departs from: Coral Sea Marina

Defender gliding through the water in the Whitsundays

If you’re after an authentic sailing experience, Defender is the boat for you! A stunning maxi yacht, this tour takes you around the most beautiful spots in the Whitsundays, including Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet as well as an opportunity to snorkel over fringing reefs around one of the islands! You’ll also get the opportunity to assist with the navigation and sailing of the boat, meaning it’s an invaluable experience if you’re passionate about all things boats!


Duration: 2D2N

Capacity: 16 passengers

Departure days: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

Departs from: Coral Sea Marina

Backpackers sat at the bow of Powerplay

Attracting a slightly more sophisticated (yet social) crowd, Powerplay is a stunning 16-passenger catamaran that promises a more intimate atmosphere on a boat that is as luxurious as it is stylish!

The visits to Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and TWO amazing snorkeling spots are just the tip of the fun iceberg, as this stunning vessel is equipped with a hot tub as well as stand-up paddleboards! Powerplay also has marine blue-lights, which transform the crystal clear turquoise waters surrounding the boat into an open-air aquarium, promising endless entertainment even when the sun goes down!

We can't wait to show you around our Whitsundays backyard!

Call us on +61 7 4914 2425 or live chat with a local expert today to find your perfect tour fit and access the best deals in town!

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