The Whitsundays are paradise, no two ways about it: white sand beaches, turquoise water, beautiful reefs, and islands where the only form of transport is golf buggy. Here's our four day itinerary for a short break in the Whitsundays, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Day 1: Slow down to island pace
Your flight to Hamilton Island will arrive in the early afternoon at the earliest, so jump in the golf buggy and head straight to your accommodation. There are no cars on Hamilton Island, so golf buggy is the way to go if you want to get around under your own steam and most hotels and airbnb's will include this in the cost of your stay.
PM: Chill at Catseye Beach
The best place to get your bearings is to take your golf buggy down to Catseye Beach and investigate the area.
On this side of the island you’ll see the popular outdoor swimming pools, a few restaurants, mini golf and the beautiful bay itself.
After the flight in, why not chill on the beach, grab a snorkel and head out in search of turtles (though they'll probably find you first!) or take a kayak out for the rest of the day.
Evening: Sunset at One Tree Hill
There’s no better place to be at sunset than One Tree Hill, so grab a drink (the $10 passionfruit cocktails were a winner!) and watch the sky turn beautiful shades of gold and purple as the sun goes down.
If you aren't in the mood for a drink, this is still a great spot, there's a grassy verge where you can enjoy the sunset for free.
Day 2: Check out the Great Barrier Reef
The Whitsundays is a brilliant place to explore one of the true wonders of the natural world: The Great Barrier Reef.
On our visit to the Whitsundays we had our young niece and nephew with us so we were looking for a family friendly reef option. We took a trip with Cruise Whitsundays, which was a great way to explore the reef with young children, or those not as confident with snorkelling. They take you out on a big catamaran to a pontoon where you can snorkel safely (there’s ropes and platforms to help), take a semi-submursible to explore underneath the water or scuba dive.
You have lunch on the pontoon and can admire the views and birds that fly by. If you look over the side you may even get lucky and see a turtle swim by, as we did.
If you want to splash out, you can add on a scenic helicopter flight on the way back. Our family did this and the photos were incredible! It’s the best way to see the Heart Reef and you can also go and fly past the magnificent Whitehaven Beach.
If you are a confident snorkeller and looking for a more wild experience we would suggest checking out the trips to Bait reef which sounded amazing, we'll be back to try it next time!
Day 3: Whitehaven Beach & Hill Inlet
A trip to the Whitsundays isn’t complete without visiting Whitehaven Beach, a place with the whitest sand we’ve ever seen. You can visit for a whole day or half a day depending on your preference. We would suggest booking your trip early as the spots go quickly and we actually couldn't take the trip we wanted to. If you have time this area really is worth the full day trip.
Start with a short walk up to Hill Inlet. The view from the platform will take your breath away. There are stunning views of the river that flows down to the sea, creating stunning blues and green swirls that mix into the bright white silica sand.
To us, this is arguably the best view in Australia.
After this, most tours give you time to explore the beach itself. The stroll down from Hill Inlet leads onto the white sand that is cool, no matter how hot it is outside (something that still confuses us!).
You can take a dip in the turquoise water, look out for cute sting rays, or just sit and take in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Day 4: Find your own private beach or go for a hike
The great thing about The Whitsundays is that most of the islands have little to no development on them, giving a real Robinson Crusoe feel. If you fancy something a little bit more active, why not do one of the hikes on Hamilton Island for some more fantastic views?
AM: Hire a boat and explore
Hire a small boat from the Marina (we hired ours from Hamilton Island Dinghy Hire and it cost $145 for four hours) and head out of Hamilton Island to start exploring. We went to Beautiful Beach on Dent Island which was a lovely spot and pretty quiet. A perfect way to relax after the last couple of days of activities! if you're really keen you can hire the boat for the whole day and explore further afield. Some areas are off limits but they'll explain all that before hand. The boat was really easy to drive and it was great being able to take off on our own.
AM: Hike up Passage Peak
If even the thought of a morning lying on the beach is making you fidgety, then take on one of Hamilton Island’s walking trails. They’re not too strenuous, and so worth it. You'll probably spot a wallaby or two as well.
Our favourite was the 2.5km Passage Peak trail which offers some beautiful views of the surrounding islands. It’s one of the steeper walks on Hamilton Island, but can be done by most people of average fitness and you can take your time. Despite visiting during the busy Easter holidays we only saw two other people on this track and had at least half an hour at the peak all to ourselves, which was a pretty magical experience. The view is one you will never forget.
PM: Sadly it's time to get the flight back. Grab a window seat and take in the views from above!
Places to stay in the Whitsundays
You can check out our in-depth guide to Whitsunday accommodation, or read a couple of our choices below.
Hamilton Island - Reef View
If you like your hotel with a view, then the Reef View is for you. It's a stone's throw away from Catseye Beach and is a magical place to be at sunrise or sunset.
Airlie Beach - Pinnacles
If you want to save some money, then you can stay at Airlie Beach. Pinnacles Hotel is fabulous and much better value than anything on Hamilton Island. It offers a stunning infinity pool, but if you can we'd strongly recommend staying on Hamilton Island.
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