Top ten things to do in The Whitsundays

It's pretty hard to whittle down the best things to do in The Whitsundays down to 10 when the area is jam packed with so many incredible options, but we've given it a go.

You could spend months exploring the 74 islands in the region but if your time is limited we've picked 10 things you shouldn't miss. 

1. Whitehaven Beach

You can't write a post about The Whitsundays without starting with Whitehaven. This is probably up there with Bondi as the most famous beach in Australia and is a must do in the Whitsundays.

Whitehaven has it all: sand so white that even on the hottest of days it remains cool, turquoise water, and - if you hang around long enough - you'll likely spot stingrays and other marine life too.

Everyone who visits The Whitsundays will likely visit Whitehaven but if all this has you thinking it might be busy and overcrowded, think again.

Whitehaven is a staggering 7km long and within moments of stepping off the boat, you can easily find a spot without another human in sight. Whitehaven was everything we imagined and more, just go! 

You will need a stinger suit in stinger season but don't let that put you off!

2. Flying over Heart Reef

What's not to love about a reef in the shape of a heart? It might be a little smaller in real life than you are expecting from the photos but it's every bit as cute. 

This is definitely one of the best things to see in The Whitsundays and there are no words to describe flying over the reef. Save your pennies and take the flight!

The famous heart reef from the air.

We reckon by helicopter is the best way to see it (and preferably doors off) but if that's out your budget take a fixed wing. We chose this option and it was something we will never forget! 

3. Sailing The Whitsundays

You can't visit this region and not go out on a sail boat, it's one of those things you must do in The Whitsundays.

A popular way to see the islands is on live aboard boats for a few days. If you don't have time for this definitely do what we did and head out for the day.

Sailing the Whitsundays at sunset.

The water is incredible and you can stop at some pretty remote snorkelling spots. It's a great way to get a feel for the vast nature of this amazing island group. 

4. Turtle Spotting

If you haven't seen a turtle on your travels yet head for The Whitsundays.

We saw them on every boat trip that we did and even though we never saw them when we were in the water, most people do.

One of the many turtles we spotted from boat trips in the Whitsundays.

Even so, watching them bob up and down around the boat was very special.

5. Hill Inlet

Yes, technically this is still Whitehaven beach but we think it needs a slot all of it's own.

Have you ever seen a view quite like this one?

Is it a dream? The view from Hill Inlet, Whitehaven beach.

With just a short 15 min walk to the lookout this has to rate as one of the best rewards for the least amount of effort anywhere in the world. 

Those colours are not photoshopped, you have to see it to believe it. 

6. Snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef

Yep, at 2300km long this reef is not just around the Cairns area. 

There has been lots of controversy surrounding the health of the reef lately but it certainly isn't dead. It is as breathtaking as you might imagine and one of the best things to see in The Whitsundays.

You have to see it to believe it, the beautiful Great Barrier Reef.

Visit, but respect the reef. Follow all the rules and make sure you don't touch anything. Believe us, seeing is more than enough.

There are many areas you can visit the reef and - according to how far out you want to go and your snorkel/dive ability - there's an area for everyone so make sure you don't miss this natural wonder of the world. 

7. Cruise Whitsundays Hardy Reef Experience

Did you know that you can actually sleep on the reef? This is one for the bucket list.

When all the other tourists have gone home, it's just you and a few other lucky people to watch the sun set on one of the greatest wonders of the world. And imagine those stars at night!

Sadly we didn't get to experience this ourselves on our trip but it's firmly on the wishlist for a future visit. Friends of ours said it was one of the best travel experiences they have ever had!

We did, however, spend the day at hardy reef which was also an amazing experience. 

Just look at those blues! The amazing Hardy reef.

We had our 3 and 6-year-old niece and nephew with us when we visited this area and we wanted to take them to the reef.

Cruise Whitsundays offered the perfect option for us with 2 young kids, they take you out to Hardy Reef which has a pontoon so you can spend as much or as little time as you like in the water. 

Sections of the reef are roped so if you are a little nervous of snorkelling or it's your first time it can really be that extra hand-holding you need. 

8. Exploring Hamilton Island by golf buggy

Not what you were thinking would be on a list of the best things to do in the Whitsundays! However, golf buggies are a really unique way of getting around and we have to say it made all the journeys on Hamilton Island a lot of fun.

You do need a driver's license to hire the buggy but they are really easy to drive.

There are no cars on Hamilton Island, it's golf buggies all the way!

We spent many happy hours whizzing around the best view points and didn't want to give it back at the end of our trip!

9. Sunsets on Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is a beautiful place to stay and if you want to be based in one place it's a much more convenient choice for excursions than anywhere else. 

It's closer to the reef, Whitehaven and other beaches and has that tropical island vibe. Sunsets on the island were a highlight and our favourite spot to watch it was at one tree hill.

The gorgeous view from One Tree Hill at sunset.

The view is incredible and the bar at the top does $10 cocktails. What more could you ask for?!

10. Passage Peak

Believe it or not most people don't come to the Whitsundays for the walking tracks! That suited us just fine, we had the passage peak trail to the highest point on Hamilton Island all to ourselves.

As you can see in the photo it was a pretty overcast day but that didn't stop us being completely memorised by the view.

The incredible view from the top of Passage Peak, Hamilton Island.

You could spend hours just watching the little sail boats go by and taking in the majesty of the whole area.

Definitely our most treasured experience on Hamilton. It's also a pretty easy hike, taking around 45 minutes to get up there so no excuses!


If you wanted to see even more incredible parts of Queensland then you may be interested in these blogs:

Where to stay in the Whitsundays

You can check out all the best places to stay by reading our article on Whitsundays accommodation. Alternatively, you can see a couple 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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Planning on going to The Whitsundays? Think we've missed something? Let us know in the comments below.

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