A 74-island paradise of reefs, beaches and aquamarine waters
Cosmopolitan and inviting, the Whitsunday peninsula stretches from the central town of Airlie Beach along the stunning coastline and into the picturesque hinterland. Jewels in the Whitsunday mainland crown include Bowen with its eight beaches (and Big Mango), Cedar Creek Falls with its spectacular cascades set in a natural rock amphitheatre and the isolated, wildlife-rich hamlet of Hydeaway Bay. There’s so much to do here – popular activities include diving or snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the 74 Whitsunday islands, dipping your toes into Whitehaven Beach’s silica sands and flying over Heart Reef. Try hiking, jet skiing, kayaking, ocean rafting and parasailing and don’t miss the chance to take a trip along the Ngaro Sea Trail, a one-of-a-kind combination of seaways and scenic walks taking in Whitsunday, South Molle and Hook islands.
Things to do
The Whitsundays not only boasts beautiful shorelines, it also lays claim to some of the most remarkable sub-tropical rainforests around. Many of the islands are home to hiking trails where visitors can admire the grand old pines, get close to the wildlife and enjoy breathtaking views.Cedar Creek Falls is the ideal spot for a picnic. Closer to the coast is a natural water hole and waterfall, which are picture-perfect in the wet season.
To the north of Airlie lies Bowen – a sleepy seaside town boasting seven beautiful beaches that remain little known to many tourists (Bowen is a 40-minute drive from Airlie). It’s a wonderful place for a day trip or overnight stay. Beyond its sublime beaches, Bowen is renowned for its juicy mangoes and fresh local seafood. Horseshoe and Rose Bays are idyllic spots for a sunset dinner on the seaside.
Sun, surf and sand
Airlie Beach is your mainland base for holidaying throughout the Whitsundays, with accommodation styles as varied as the accents and languages you’ll hear on the street. Here you’ll find everything from hostels to hillside luxury apartments and villas. Thanks to its proximity to the islands, Airlie Beach is the heart of the Whitsundays and it boasts an array of dining and nightlife options.
Proserpine and Collinsville are charming towns, slightly inland from Airlie Beach, with much to discover. No visit to Proserpine is complete without a stop at Colour Me Crazy, an emporium of fashion, jewellery, homewares and much more. Resorts and caravan parks in the area offer a more secluded getaway. 2B Dobbins Ln, Prosperpine, tel: +61 (07) 4945 2698
Dingo Beach (pictured) and Hydeaway Bay are tiny townships which boast stunning shorelines. Stay at the beachfront eco resorts to make the most of the seclusion and serenity. Conway Beach is a favourite with caravanners, thanks in part to its wide bay at low tide that’s perfect for kite-flying and sail-boarding
Airlie Beach 40km
Travel time 35 minutes
Taxi Approx AUD $80
Bus Whitsunday Transit, pre-booking required. Call +61 (7) 4946 1800. One-way AUD $18 (adult), AUD $13 (child). Whitsunday Transfers, call +61 (7) 4946 4940. One-way AUD $18 (adult), AUD $13 (child)Back to top
When to go
September is the best time to visit the Whitsundays: it’s the season of sunny weather and low humidity. The temperature ranges from 19°C to 26°C. September is also the best time to avoid “stinger season” (from October to May) if you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the water. Summer temperatures – between December and February – can hit a high of 30°C, sometimes accompanied by brief showers.
The fun continues even in wet weather. The rain brings out all kinds of wildlife so that’s the best time to explore the rainforest.Back to top
If you plan to drive during your visit to the Whitsunday Coast, hire a car at Mackay, Whitsunday Coast Airport or Airlie Beach. For those staying in Airlie Beach, most tourist activities include return shuttle service to your accommodation. There’s also public transportation. Visits to Bowen, Cedar Creek Falls and Hydeaway Bay require a car (travel is over unsealed roads). For something different, hire a Mini Moke from Fun Rentals on Airlie’s main street. Tel: +61 (7) 4948 0489Back to top