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Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

The Whitsundays is the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most spectacular aquatic playgrounds encompassing 74 tropical islands.

With clear crystal waters, white pristine beaches, secluded anchorages and the world-famous Great Barrier Reef, it is easy to see why the Whitsundays is known as one of the world’s best cruising destinations.

Airlie Beach, located on the mainland in the Whitsundays, is a vibrant coastal town boasting restaurants, beaches and nightlife, in addition to the award-winning Coral Sea Marina Resort – a premium destination marina with berthing options for up to 80m and Queensland’s first 5 Gold Anchor Platinum accredited marina.

The mainland coastline is home to multiple National Parks, ideal for local wildlife encounters, from wallabies to platypus and more, offering a picturesque untouched scenic coastline in addition to quaint Queensland townships, waterfalls and hidden treasures.

Amongst the tropical islands, you may find yourself relaxing at world-renowned Island Resorts, such as Hamilton Island, champion golf courses, day spas and award-winning restaurants. These Island Resorts provide a perfect resting stop between days spent exploring the Whitsunday Islands.

The islands are home to some incredible scenery and settings. Whitehaven Beach, a pristine expanse of pure white silica sand fringed by brilliant blue water and lush tropical island, is one of the jewels of the Whitsundays, recognised as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

With multiple island trails to explore, fringing reefs to snorkel and sunsets to enjoy, the Whitsunday Islands showcase the very best of nature and the Australian landscape. In addition, the islands are within easy reach of the Great Barrier Reef, including the infamous Heart Reef formation, and with 27 pristine anchorages throughout the region on offer to Superyachts, the Whitsundays offers a diverse range of experiences and surroundings.

For further information about Queensland Tourism click here.

For further information about the Great Barrier Reef click here.


Whitsundays – Queensland

Far North Queensland

South Queensland




Click here for information about access to the Great Barrier Reef for Superyachts over 35 Metres 

View or download the Superyacht Guide to the Whitsundays here

Cruising > Great Barrier Reef




Key Tourism Attractions

  • Whitehaven Beach – Voted best beach in Australia
  • Great Barrier Reef – Scuba Diving/Snorkelling
  • 74 Whitsunday Islands to Explore
  • Ngaro Sea Trial – Indigenous History
  • Whale Watching (June – October)
  • Whitsunday Mainland Coast/ Eungella National Park

Cruising Highlights

Cruising the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef offers endless itinerary possibilities. From a short three day weekend to a full two-week itinerary, there is so much to explore during the perfect Whitsundays adventure.

In August 2017, the Australian government opened up access to an additional 21 pristine anchorages around the Whitsunday islands for vessels over 35metres, offering 27 anchorages total in varied spectacular locations. These anchorages now offer superyachts the accessibility to create a varied and interesting itinerary for vessel owners and guests.

With renowned island resorts, the seclusion of the Great Barrier Reef, the pristine white sands of world-famous Whitehaven Beach and a maze of tropical islands to explore, it is easy to understand why the Whitsundays is known as Australia’s premium cruising destination.


 Guide to Heart Reef, Whitsundays - Tourism Australia


Recommended Itineraries 

10 Day Whitsunday Adventure Itinerary

Your voyage starts at the award-winning Coral Sea Marina Resort and takes you on a complete Whitsunday experience. Incorporating many of the newly opened superyacht anchorages, this itinerary can easily be extended for 14 days or more, if time permits.

DAY 1 – 2: Coral Sea Marina Resort/ Macona Inlet/ Luncheon Bay

Fly into the Whitsunday Coast Airport and enjoy a private helicopter service taking you directly to Coral Sea Marina Resort where your yacht awaits. This world-class marina has a concierge service committed to ensuring your boating experience has minimum hassle and maximum pleasure.

From here it’s a short 2.5-hour cruise past Pioneer Point and crosses the Whitsunday Passage to your first night’s destination at Macona Inlet on Hook Island. The next day checks out Luncheon Bay on Hook island for its exceptional snorkelling opportunities, coral gardens and teeming fish life.

DAY 2 – 4: Blue Pearl Bay/ Stonehaven/ Langford Island

From Luncheon Bayhead to Blue Pearl Bay, a stunning location that again offers amazing snorkelling with an abundance of fish and corals said to be some of the best the Whitsundays islands have to offer. Continue on your adventure to Stonehaven and anchor up for the night.

The next morning it’s an easy 30-minute cruise in the tender over to Langford Island where you can explore the coral cay and the fringing reef. Stroll on the sandy beach before heading approximately 3-hours to Hamilton Island.


Why you should take a seven-minute escapade to Langford Island -  InterContinental Hayman Island Resort


DAY 5 – 6: Hamilton Island/ Turtle Bay/ Chance Bay

Your next stop for overnight is Hamilton Island. This modern resort island has boutiques, an exceptional day spa experience at a luxury resort, qualia and plenty of restaurants to choose from. For those golf lovers, take the short trip to Dent island and enjoy 18 holes with a stunning view of the islands and then lunch at the clubhouse.

Leave Hamilton island and head for Turtle or Chance bay on Whitsunday island, accessing the walking track of the Ngaro Sea Trial from Chance Bay to Whitehaven Beach and follow in the footsteps of the elders of the Ngaro Tribe, traditional owners of the Whitsunday Islands.


DAY 7 – 8: Shaw Island/ Thomas Island/ Lindeman Island

From Chance Bay travel south to Burning Point on Shaw Island before exploring Gap Beach and the national park walking tracks on Lindeman Island. If you are looking for seclusion the southern anchorages on Thomas and Shaw Islands will suit you perfectly.

A relaxing picnic on the beach or long lunch on the deck is in order, as you enjoy the tranquillity of these secluded waters.


A Brief Guide To Whitehaven Beach, Queensland



DAY 9 – 10: Whitehaven Beach/ Tongue Bay/ Coral Sea Marina Resort

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Thomas Island before making your way to the iconic Whitehaven Beach, acclaimed as the best beach in Australia, with 5 kilometres of sparkling white sand made up of 98% silica a legacy of a geologic era when the sea level was lower. From Whitehaven anchor at Tongue Bay and enjoy the walk through the rainforest to the interpretive viewing platform overlooking the swirling sands of Hill Inlet. Arrange for the tender to collect you from Betty’s Beach and relax on deck, before heading back into Coral Sea Marina Resort.

Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Access to the Great Barrier Reef is a short trip from either of the Whitsunday superyacht marinas.

The Whitsunday Islands themselves are surrounded by fringing reefs, providing some great snorkelling opportunities, but for those wanting a real Great Barrier Reef diving experience, the below itinerary takes in some of the best locations the reef has to offer in this region

Heron Island Resort | Heron Island Snorkelling Tour 

Day 1 – 2: Coral Sea Marina/ Macona Inlet/ Butterfly Bay

 Fly into Whitsunday Coast Airport and enjoy a private helicopter service to bring you directly to Coral Sea Marina where your yacht awaits. This superyacht marina has a dedicated concierge service committed to ensuring your yachting experience has minimum hassle and maximum pleasure. From Coral Sea Marina it is a short 2.5-hour cruise across the Whitsunday Passage to your first destination at Macona Inlet on Hook Island. Explore this fjord-like inlet by tender, enjoy an afternoon on the stand-up paddleboard, kayak or relax on the deck and take in the tropical serenity.

The next day after a light breakfast head north to the top of Hook Island and explore the snorkel sites at Butterfly Bay, Manta Ray Bay or Luncheon Bay. Vibrant soft corals, abundant marine life and fringing coral reefs are all there to explore under the water throughout the day.


Day 3 – 4: Hayman Island

The Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort is worth a visit for a daytime excursion. Relax by the infinity pool with a cocktail, book a treatment at the award-winning day spa or sample a private lunch on the beach with cuisine prepared by a chef of your choice. Head over to Stonehaven anchorage to catch the last glimpse of the sun and enjoy drinks on the deck as the sun sets over another perfect Whitsunday afternoon.

Early morning head around to Blue Pearl Bay, snorkel the fringing reef along the island shelf or explore the coral beach in between the trees and during the wet season discover the natural waterfalls which spring up along the hillside.

Between June – October has a watchful eye on the horizon, as the annual humpback whale migration is in full swing and you may be lucky enough to spot a mother and calf frolicking in the turquoise waters.

Blue Pearl Bay


Day 5 – 6: Bait Reef/ Fairey Reef

Wake up to the sound of silence as you enjoy the serenity of the outer Great Barrier Reef anchorages. Spend your days diving the famous Stepping Stones, which are unique in that you will find 18 or more flat-topped coral pinnacles lined up in a row along the southwest face of the reef. Living amongst this structure is abundant fish life, as well as many deep canyons and crevices to explore.

Little Fairey Inlet is a great spot for snorkelling as well as some exceptional diving along the wall of the inlet. Brightly coloured angelfish, coral trout and sweet lip will swarm past and the chance encounter with a blue-spotted lagoon ray or white-tipped reef shark is almost guaranteed. After a long day underwater, sit on the back deck and enjoy the clarity in the night sky as the milky way is clearly visible most evenings without a cloud.

We always recommend taking an experienced local dive guide with you on your charter to access some of the more unique dive sites. Please contact our team for recommended suppliers.


Day 7 – 8: Hardy Reef/ Line Reef

For diving, fanatics head to Hardy Reef and spend your days exploring the range if different dive sites.

If diving is not your thing, then helicopter charters can be arranged from the pontoon at Hardy Reef offering an incredible perspective of the complexity of the reef system from the air. Hardy Reef is home to the Whitsunday icon Heart Reef, which is aptly named after the natural shape this reef has taken.

Some of the best diving at Hardy Reef can be found at Hardy Reef South where the shallow pools provide the ultimate haven for a range of fish life. At certain tides, the natural ‘waterfall’ can be experienced at Hardy Reef when the water is emptying from the reef and this is quite a formidable sight.

GBRMPA - Our story


Day 9 – 10: Hamilton Island

Round off your 10-day itinerary with a visit to the island resort of Hamilton Island.

Take a private transfer to the Dent Island golf course and enjoy 18 holes or a long relaxed lunch at the clubhouse. Enjoy their resort-style nightlife with a sumptuous dinner at the architectural creation that is the Hamilton Island yacht club, or relaxes over sunset cocktails at One Tree Hill and experiences a 360-degree view of the Whitsunday Islands.

For those who enjoy hiking, wake up early and climb to the highest peak on the island – Passage Peak – as the sun rises over another perfect Whitsunday day. With day spas, boutiques and the award-winning qualia resort on the island, a visit to Hamilton Island could be the perfect way to end 10 days in the Whitsundays.