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Authored by Laura Clear

Made up of 74 island wonders in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are the most beautiful part of Queensland’s tropical coast. Four of the islands have resorts but most are uninhabited, characterized by dense rainforest, hiking trails, and secluded white sand beaches which offer back-to-nature beach camping for the adventurous.

There are plenty of reasons to visit the Whitsundays, though this is one of those destinations where you don’t really need an excuse; a true paradise, and the ultimate in adventure and relaxation, with great cocktails and incredible local seafood!

5 Reasons to Visit the Whitsundays

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Sunrise and Sunset

Many destinations boast spectacular sunrises and sunsets, but there is something truly magical about looking out over the ocean to the horizon and watching as the first / final rays of light appear / disappear for the day.

Waking up to an ocean-front view as the sun rises over the ocean is something else. But if you’re not an early riser, there are many fabulous ways to experience sunset in the Whitsundays, and you can’t beat a sunset cruise.

The Paradise Explorer will take you out on the ocean to witness one of their many beautiful sunsets, or make a night of it and go out on Sundowner Cruises which offer drinks and snacks whilst you cruise around Airlie watching the sun go down.

Breathtaking Views

The Whitsunday Islands are some of the most scenic in Australia, and you’re never far from a remarkable view. Many are easy to access such as Flagstaff Hill lookout which provides 360 degree views of Bowen and Grays beach. Others, such as horseshoe bay and Whitehaven, are worth the extra effort to get to.

It’s a 10-20 minute walk to reach the viewpoint for Horseshoe bay, but looking down over this iconic beach is spectacular. The beach is framed by two granite outcrops which provide a haven for a wonderful range of fish and coral. Make sure to stop in at the quirky Horseshoe Bay Cafe and stock up for the walk, they provide an amazing breakfast.

Often named among the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven is a breathtaking stretch of white silica sands and crystal clear waters; the very definition of a pristine white beach. Don’t miss out on exploring Hill Inlet. Red Cat Adventures will take you up to the cove at the northern end of the beach, where the tide shifts and you are able to see the swirly sand layers featured in the ocean.


Many people see the Whitsundays as a place to getaway and relax. And we don’t blame them – it is after-all the perfect destination for this. But the islands also offer a wide range of activities and adventures to satisfy the inner adrenalin junkie within us all.

Why not take a rainforest or boardwalk tour with Whitsunday Segway Tours. Or a day or two sailing with Red Cat Adventures. There are many different types of adventure throughout the islands; everything from jet boating to skydiving, as well as some good old fashioned day walks with spectacular views.


Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Bowen was made famous as the main location for Baz Luhrmann’s latest epic movie, Australia. While the film was set in Darwin, scenes were actually filmed in Bowen along the main street, featuring many of their historic buildings.

Though Bowen is also famous as the home of the Big Mango – Australia loves their “big” roadside attractions, though this one in particular became well known was it was supposedly stolen! A smaller version was spotted in many different places all around the world, though none of these international destinations make mango sorbet quite like they do in Bowen.

There are many other incredible things to do in Bowen; everything from turtle spotting from the jetty, to catching the Paradise Explorer, visiting Grays beach, flagstaff hill lookout and horseshoe bay. While visiting don’t forget to pop into some of Bowens locally owned restaurants such as the Three Sisters Cafe and Birds Fish Bar; I guarantee you won’t be left hungry or disappointed.


A central point for many Whitsunday activities such as the Sundowner Cruise, Whitsunday Segway Tours and Red Cat Adventures, Arlie Beach is an attraction in itself. It allows you time to mix with Queensland locals, head down to the Saturday markets and experience local produce, and maybe take a away a beautiful handmade gift or souvenir.

Along with its own incredible beach, Arlie has a wide range of pubs and eateries which are a great way to source local knowledge on the different walking tracks with the best views. Foodies in Arlie will delight – I strongly recommend stopping in at Fish D’vine; a cafe and rum bar which offers amazing cooking classes with owner and chef Rebecca Clark. Her passion for food is so infectious its incredible.

Also visit Walters lounge located at the port of Arlie. This is a wonderful local restaurant and bar with delicious gourmet food, but you’ll want to leave room for their desserts.

✈ Flights & Accommodation

Fly to the Whitsundays direct with Jetstar Australia. They operate a direct flight from Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne to Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) multiple times a week with prices starting at $119. Keep track of Jetstar deals to the Whitsundays by downloading the free Skyscanner app. Click here

Whitsunday Transit specializes in Whitsunday Coast airport transfers. They will meet your flight at Prosperine and transport you by modern air-conditioned luxury coach. The service is available for picks up and drops off at your hotel at any time.

The Tourism Whitsundays website is:

Where You Should Stay

Rose Bay Resort

This unique hotel in Bowen offers stunning views from the rooms over a private beach.

Check availability

Heart Hotel & Gallery Whitsundays

Locatedin the heart of Arlie Beach, ideally positioned for guests wishing to discover the area’s attractions.

Check availability

Pinnacles Resort

Located in Airlie Beach, with luxury accommodation and a full range of facilities. Incredible views from the infinity pool, and a private Jacizzi.

Check availability


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Laura is a graduate of Guilford Young College in Hobart, Tasmania. Inspired to travel since a young age, she recently returned from a year studying abroad in Germany, where she became fluent in her second language and fell in love with Europe along the way.

2017 will see her relocate to Canada where she will base herself for travel throughout North and South America. She is the youngest writer on the Mapping Megan team.


  1. I had no idea that there were so many of the islands. I would love to visit the Barrier Reef one day, and if I do I would definitely check out the Whitsundays. Gorgeous photos

    • Most are uninhabited, but it definitely makes for a pretty large playground! I hope you have the chance to visit the Whitsundays soon :)

  2. Whitsundays looks like a true tropical paradise. I visited the GBR when I was 18 for my High School graduation trip. I wasn’t scuba certified then, but I am becoming a dive master this year. I would love to return to see down under down under. Whitsundays would be a perfect location to home base our adventures.

    • Absolutely – the true definition of paradise!! Hope you have the chance to visit soon – the diving is incredible here :)

  3. I hope I can visit Australia next year and I definitely want to see the Whitsundays.

    • Happy travels! Hope you can incorporate a trip to the Whitsundays too :)

  4. I love the Whitsundays, especially when winter starts to bite in Sydney. It’s a great place to go for a hit of sunshine.

    • Definitely a great winter escape! We’re braving the – 9 degrees in Canberra now, so I would definitely prefer the Whitsundays!!

  5. The paradise explorer sunset cruise sounds amazing! I have never even heard of these islands until now! As photographers, sunset is the best time for capturing photos so going on a sunset sailing would be ideal for us!

    • Glad we could introduce you to the Whitsundays! Such a stunning part of Queensland, highly recommend if you make it to Australia in the future.

      And yes, the Paradise Explorer sunset cruise is something we highly recommend – especially for photographers, totally agree, sunset is always great lighting!

  6. I was in the Whitsundays many many years ago when I was very young and very poor. Would love to go back again now that I am less young and still poor. I sailed these beautiful islands on a backpacker catamaran for 3 days, so much Bob Marley…

    • Sounds like some incredible memories! Return trips are the greatest – they bring back such awesome memories from the first but allow you to discover the places you may have previously missed :)

  7. The sea and the scenery are beautiful, worth the trip.

    • Absolutely – one of the most stunning destinations along the QLD coast :)

  8. Now is it pronounced “Wit Sundays” or “White Sundays” just curious…but secluded white sand beaches and back-to-nature beaches sound great to me. The one that really caught my attention is Whitehaven and based on the Instagram pic I can totally see why it would be listed among the best beaches in the world. It truly is a breathtaking.

    • Whit Sundays is the pronunciation :) And absolutely – Whitehaven is reason enough to visit in it’s own right – I’ve never seen such a stunning bay / beach!

  9. OMG that Fish Divine platter really does look divine! This place is so on my bucket list, I hope I manage to get there one day, enjoy the beaches and that fish!!

    • Doesn’t it! My mouth waters every time I scroll past it! You’ll love the Whitsundays – hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

  10. Everything looks delightful. Including that platter. And I am kinda allergic to seafood ;) The images are breath-taking and I feel the peaceful vibe from halfway across the world. Thanks for sharing Laura :)


    • Oh no! Sorry to hear you’re allergic to seafood :( But plenty of other culinary delights which are delicious too :)

      Glad you enjoyed the post Ryan! Hope you have the chance to visit the WhitSundays soon!

  11. Wow! This area seems both fascinating and also excellent for exploration. I’m definitely going to need to make it Whitsundays! Yet another thing to add to the list! :-) Thanks!

    • Glad we could introduce you to the Whitsundays :) Hope you have the chance to visit soon!

  12. You had me at sunsets…and adventure! I had no idea these islands even existed until now, being from Canada and never having traveled to this part of the world. Looks stunning though and another place to add ot my bucket list!

    • I’m glad that we could introduce you to the Whitsundays, and inspire an addition to your bucketlist :)

      Hope you have the chance to visit Australia soon!

  13. Thanks for featuring our photos :) xx

    • Most welcome, you took some stunning shots! Wish I could have been there too :)

  14. Nicely Done!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  15. Bareboat (skipper yourself) charters are hands down the best way to see the Whitsundays. Hire a boat for up to 10 friends and family and set your own itinerary for your holiday. And you don’t even need a licence! We hired a sailing catamaran for 5 days through Cumberland Charter Yachts and it was the best holiday we’ve ever had. Would definitely recommend for anyone thinking about visiting the Whitsundays.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Mercedes, glad to hear that you had a fabulous time! Chartering yourself does sound like an incredible way to see the Whitsundays :)

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