Just off the coast of Queensland, Australia is a cluster of 74 different islands. These islands, the Whitsunday Islands, welcome over a half a million visitors every year to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World Â– the Great Barrier Reef.
As one of the most famous destinations in the world, it's not uncommon to see expensive yachts sailing around among the private ferries. Most of the islands are designated as national parks with access to snorkeling and diving in the coral reefs, or just to lay in the sand on the famous Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands (Tourism Whitsundays)
Naturally, you're most likely on the Whitsunday Islands to explore the Great Barrier Reef. However, don't miss out on the other things these islands have to offer.
Of all the above ground spots on the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach is the most iconic, of all the landmarks. The view along the 4.5-kilometer stretch of pristine beaches is absolutely magnificent. And if you think the sand here feels a little different between your toes, you're right. This sand is 98% pure silica and the combination with the crashing waves creates the perfect swimming situation.
For a chance to really feel like a local, take a walk along the Ngaro Sea Trail and travel in the footsteps of the traditional people of the Whitsunday area. This region is full of magnificent, natural beauty and a rich cultural history. These self-guided walks take you through campsites and waterways that are easily navigable by kayak or boat. As you wander along this trail you'll see Aboriginal cave paintings, the perfect view from Hill Inlet and the amazing sands of Whitehaven Beach.
And to catch a glimpse of land animals, take a leisurely cruise thought the Proserpine River wetlands. As you coast along you'll encounter the frightening saltwater crocodiles. These "salties," are extremely dangerous, but with an experienced tour guide leading you, gives you the chance to see the dinosaur relics up close and personal.
Arguably the most popular of the Whitsunday Islands is Hamilton Island. It serves as a play palace for the rich and famous with golf buggies on every paved road and white beaches full of water sports action. If you can afford it, there's plenty to do here. The high-end accommodations, restaurants and bars are may be out of your budget, but many amenities like tennis courts and minigolf are available to people visiting for the day. In front Catseye Beach stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, windsurfers and catamarans are all for rent. If you'd rather stick to a little more rugged activity, take a hike on one of the many trails around the island. Passage Peak is one of the more challenging ones, for example. If you can make the final steep climb to the Hill Top Viewing Area, you won't be disappointed. The awe-inspiring view of the islands will certainly take your breath away.
It's likely that every activity you'll find in the Whitsunday Islands will revolve around the water. Snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, catamaran cruising Â– even plane rides tend to be seaplanes. While the Whitsunday Islands and beaches are lovely on their own, they're nothing compared to the magnificent world waiting under the sea.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World lies just beneath the surface of these islands. You can literally spend days exploring the vibrant colors and spectacular marine life swimming among the coral. If two days just isn't enough for you, many tour guides offer "liveaborads." Your stay can last anywhere from three to seven days Â– maybe more if you can handle it and are willing to pay.
Food and Dining
Because the Whitsunday Islands are such a popular tourist destination, resorts offer five-star flavors with influences from all over the world. Not only do restaurants typically provide you with a filling meal, but you'll also have live music, entertainment and many feature wine bars. All of the resorts on the Whitsunday Island resorts provide different dining experiences, so feel free to try a new one each night.
Getting around islands is simple enough with buses and free shuttles to most destinations. Getting between the islands, however, requires the use of boats. There are several companies for hire ranging from the use of motorboats, catamarans, speedboats and sailboats.