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The Ultimate Whitsundays Bucket List

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Lily Kerley
Updated Tue 06 Feb 2024

The Whitsunday Islands are a traveller's paradise. With so much to see and do, it's the perfect escape for someone who wants to spend time outside, immerse themselves in nature, and have a blast with other travellers. If you're planning a visit to the beautiful islands, here's a list of things you should do to make sure you make the most of your Whitsundays escape. Whether you're here with family, friends or as a couple, no Whitsunday holiday is complete without these ultimate bucket list items!

Bettys Beach, Whitehaven

The Ultimate Whitsundays Bucket List

Bucket List Whitsunday Tours & Experiences

Sail Through The Coral Sea

The Whitsundays are a sailor's paradise. The 74 islands that make up the Whitsundays are surrounded by calm, blue waters and colourful, diverse coral reefs. With many sailing trips on offer, there is an ideal excursion for every type of traveller. You can find sailing trips designed for backpackers, families, and honeymooners, as well as day trips, overnight trips, and private charters. There is no better way to explore the islands than with sails up and waves below, feeling the warm tropical breeze on your skin as you glide over the calm turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. 

Check out our complete guide to our favourite bucket list experiences in Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands.

A Whitsunday ship in the blue sea

Island Hop

With 74 islands to choose from, island hopping is a must-do in the Whitsundays. With six islands that have resorts, as well as several others frequented by sailing trips, do your best to see as many of these stunning islands as you can! Visit resort islands such as Long Island or Hamilton Island. Or visit Whitsunday Island, which is home to the infamous Whitehaven Beach. There are so many options!

Two women walking on the shores of Whitehaven Beach


Skydiving is a unique and extreme way to see the Whitsundays. Airlie Beach offers one of the most beautiful places in all of Australia from which you can skydive, with views of the surrounding islands including during your flight up. You can choose from 2 different jumps, including 7,000 and 15,000 feet for the ultimate rush and adrenaline-pumping experience! Choose to skydive over Whitehaven Beach for an extra scenic view!

A woman skydiving with Skydive Australia

Snorkel Through Exquisite Coral Reefs

The Whitsundays are located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and provide some of the best snorkelling in the world! Because of the islands' shelter, the Whitsundays offer perfectly secluded and calm waters that are ideal for snorkelling. The protected coves and bays are home to the fringing reefs of the Great Barrier Reef where you will find amazing and diverse marine life. Check out the 10 best snorkelling spots for some seriously breathtaking days underwater!

A group of people snorkelling through the Whitsunday waters

Scuba Dive

Several overnight and day sailing trips offer guests the chance to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, where you can see the coral reefs up close and in a whole new way. Both beginner and experienced divers are welcome, with full tuition provided to newcomers. The Whitsundays offer a great place to learn to scuba dive, where divers can enjoy entering the water from the beaches surrounding the island. Discover our scuba diving trips here.

You can also book excursions to the Outer Reef! It's a few hours from the shore, but it's worth the journey. While the Whitsundays Islands are home to fringing reefs, the Outer Reef is home to massive coral structures where you can spend the day exploring the underwater world!

A man in a wetsuit with diving gear aboard a boat

Go On A Sunset Cruise

The Whitsundays are stunning at all times of day, but a sunset cruise has to be on your Whitsunday bucket list! There is no better way to end a fantastic day than cruising over the calm waters and watching the sun go down. Have some drinks and snacks, mingle with your fellow guests, and enjoy the surreal views. You can jump on a sunset cruise tour or book a private charter if you want to just have your own friends and family on board!

A Whitsunday sunset cruise at golden hour

Fly Over The Whitsundays On A Scenic Flight

Be sure to see the Whitsundays from above during your time in this tropical paradise! With several seaplane and helicopter tours on offer, you can see the Whitsundays exactly the way you want during your scenic flight. You can cruise over the Outer Great Barrier Reef and see the famous Heart Reef, or pick a tour that drops you right on Whitehaven Beach. Seeing the dazzling islands and reefs from the sky gives you a whole new level of appreciation for the beauty of nature. 

Turquoise Heart Reef panorama from a seaplane

Whitsunday Bucket List Destinations - Reefs, Islands & Beaches

Whitsunday Island

Whitehaven Beach & Hill Inlet

As the archipelago's largest island, and home to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, Whitsunday Island is a completely unmissable bucket-list item. Geologically incredible sands (made up of 99% white silica), the most crystal clear bays and waters, and some of the best vistas in the world await you in this paradise. Take the walk up to Hill Inlet Lookout, swim at Betty's Beach to get off the beaten path and stroll along the famous Whitehaven Beach!

Whitehaven Beach with Hill Inlet Sands, Whitsunday Island Bucket List Item

Hamilton Island

Deluxe resorts & beautiful beaches

One of the six resort islands in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is a luxurious, tropical holiday destination with creature comforts and secluded island wonder to boot. Don't miss a stop at Hamilton Island, and adorn your stay with fantastic fresh seafood, luxe swim-up bars, colourful wildlife and stunning beaches. Whether you're heading out from Airlie Beach for a day or have a lavish trip planned with a resort-stay, Hamilton Island is where island dreaming meets luxury service.

A woman walking on a beach on Hamilton Island

The Great Barrier Reef

Fringing reefs, coral cays & protected bays

You cannot come to Whitsunday Islands and not get wet! The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is home to brilliant coral, glimmering fish, sea turtles, giant clams, urchins, dolphins, whales, dugongs and more. Swim with the bat fish and giant Maori Wrasse at Mantaray Bay, Hook Island or spot the most colourful corals at Blue Pearl Bay off Hayman Island. Whether your in the outer or inner reef spots, tick Great Barrier Reef snorkelling off your bucket list in the Whitsundays. Oh, and check out our cheeky local favourite spots before you go!

A Maori Wrasse fish in a coral reef

Langford Island

Sandbar & Lookout

Once you've experienced the magic of Whitehaven Beach, head out to a more secluded corner of the Whitsunday Islands to Langford Island! Not only is the spit reef snorkelling simply breathtaking, there is a light on-island walk to Langford Island Lookout which boasts excellent views. With baby stingrays and sea turtles hanging around the sandbar, walk along the slimbit of sand and feel like you're on the edge of the world... in a tropical haven! Most overnight boat trips head to Langford conditions dependant, along with a couple of day trips!

Langford Island sandbar at sunset

Hook Island

Indigenous Art Site & Snorkelling Sites

Hook Island is a hidden gem in the Whitsundays Island, with an array of exqusite snorkelling coves and bay around the whole island. Butterfly Bay and Macona Inlet are beloved amongst local skippers for their calm waters and brilliant coral life. Nara Inlet is where you can access the Hook Island Ngaro Cultural site, where rock art that dates back 9000 years lies. Access is free, and you can wander the boarded walk and learn about the brilliant history of the land and seas of Ngaro Country.

Cave painting at Ngaro Cultural Site

Hayman Island

Island Hikes, Beaches & Views

Neighbouring Hook Island, Hayman Island is a bucket-list daydream for those adventurous travellers. Check out the moderate walk over to Blue Pearl Bay, get awestriking vistas of Bali Hai and snorkel off the epic off-shore entry points. For those not-so adventurous stayers, check out the grand resort where you can have the luxury stay... a definite bucket-list holiday!

Blue Pearl Bay white sands and blue waters island

Heart Reef

Outer Reef Views & Scenic Fight

Get off the ground and take to the skies to explore the exquisite Heart Reef. Named aptly for its love-heart shape, Heart Reef is a pocket of gorgeous Outer Reef amongst a sprawling part of the Great Barrier Reef. Totally unforgettable, discover the sheer magic of the massive marine ecosystem, spot marinelife from below and explore the Whitsunday Islands like never before! Check out the best scenic flights to Heart Reef to tick this one off!

A view of Great Barrier Reef and Heart Reef

Airlie Beach

Bars, Restaurants, Local Markets & Live Music

You can't forget about the mainland when talking about Whitsunday bucket-list trips! Airlie Beach is a charming, local seaside town, with something for everything. Whether you're a backpackercruise ship passenger docking for a day, holidayer with your family or romantic getawayer, delight in sunny Airlie Beach! With awesome restaurantsnightlifeday trips and surrounding regional gems just a stones throw away, don't miss Airlie Beach  on your next visit to the Whitsunday Region!

GSL aviation, Whitsunday Island Great Barrier Reef Scenic Flight

Ready to tick some items off your Whitsunday bucket list? Check out our favourite bucket list trips here!

Or, ask us which Whitsundays tour is best for you! Live chat with a local team member or call us on +61 7 4914 2425 today!

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