Whitsunday’s Sailing in the stunning azure waters
Australia’s Whitsunday Islands are perfect for cruising and sailing. The azure blue seas are clear, warm and inviting.
We have a great selection of Whitsundays Sailing tours, so take your pick and discover the magic of the Whitsunday Islands.
The combination of the calm waters, numerous undeveloped islands, predictable winds and protective harbours has made the Whitsundays one of the best places to sail in the world.
Visitors can do barefoot charters – going out on their own – crewed charters and on daily, overnight and multiple night trips. Kayaking is a trendy way to get around the islands, especially if combined with overnight camping.
In 1770, James Cook was the first European to discover the Cumberland Islands, which the locals knew about for over 6,000 years. This group of islands number over 150 and sit between the coast and the Barrier Reef. During his time in the Whitsundays, Cook sailed a passage near the north end of the group of islands and named the passage ‘Whitsunday’s Passage’. He wrote in his logbook: ‘Indeed the whole passage is one continued safe harbour.
Later, other surveys broke the Cumberland islands into four groups, of which the largest around Whitsunday’s Passage became known as the Whitsunday Group. While marketing material often quotes 74 Whitsunday Islands, The Whitsunday group has over 90 islands.
Most of the islands are continental islands and not the coral cays and islands in the majority elsewhere in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. While coral islands are still relatively fragile and flat, the Continental islands are mountain tops of different elevations and host various plant and animal life.
The Continental island has developed fringe reefs, and white sand beaches have set. Another differentiating factor is the aquamarine shade of the sea throughout the Whitsundays – created by the reflection of fine silt.
Hiking and Camping the Whitsunday’s
The Whitsunday’s give adventure seekers a different experience than other parts of the Great Barrier Reef provides.
There are six national parks located on Continental islands, with another four on the mainland’s coast. Here visitors can hike for hours into the wilderness, following easy trails.
Primitive campsites are available in the island parks, with no electricity. Generators are prohibited from showers, stores, open fires, drinking water, and you dig your toilet. Okay, exaggerated you don’t have to explore your toilet at all the campsites, but the rest is true.
Some sites are near landing areas, while others require a hike to reach. Some of these harder to get locations are well worth the walk, just off a trail and on a secluded cove. In total, there are 31 campsites on the islands and 67 km of marked hiking trails.
Resorts and Accommodations.
Suppose camping and sleeping overnight on a boat is not in your plans, no worries. The area has a large variety of accommodations, from simple hostels to five-star resorts. The majority of the accommodations are on the mainland.
Of the 74 islands, only four have permanent commercial/ residential development, and only Hamilton Island has multiple developments. Hamilton Island is also the home of the Great Barrier Reef airport, which is the primary airport servicing the area. The airport also provides seaplane and helicopter service to other islands and sightseeing.
Once you have discovered Whitsundays Sailing, you may never want to leave.
Looking to see the reef further North? check out our liveaboards departing from Cairns