Whitsunday Islands in a Week

Photo by Fiona Harper

Prepare your sea legs! Explore Whitsunday Islands by boat

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This is more like it – one whole week to lap up the very best of the Whitsundays! We’d suggest the first thing you do is find yourself a boat. Whether you’re a round the world sailor in the making, starting in the Great Barrier Reef, or don’t know your port from starboard, there’s a boat to suit your style.

Whitsunday Islands in a Week: Option 1 – Charter boats

These range from bare bones backpacker style to luxury cruises with a crew of highly skilled professionals to attend to your every need. Departure dates and length depend on which boat you choose and when you travel. Here’s a few options to get your started:

1. Spoil yourself with a stylish overnight cruise onboard Whitsunday Getaways’ 43ft Fountain Pajot where you’ll share the spoils with max 8 guests. It’s almost like having your own private yacht!

2. Lap up the royal treatment too onboard Sydney Sundancer which is as close as you’ll get to a boutique hotel on water. Floating oversized armchairs anyone?

3. Unleash your inner sailor onboard tall ship Derwent Hunter, where it won’t cost a fortune to live like the rich and famous sailing around the Whitsunday Islands.

Explore more local itineraries via the RELATED links below.

Whitsunday Islands in a Week: Option 2 – Bareboating

The Whitsundays have the largest fleet of bareboats in Australia, with bases at Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour and Hamilton Island. While you do need some basic boating skills, the remarkable thing is that almost anyone can hire a luxury boat and skipper themselves. Power and sail boats are both available and comprehensive briefings are given before you’re given the keys to freedom.

Cid Harbour is a good place to head for your first night as Master and Commander of your vessel. There’s plenty of room to manoeuvre as you and your crew get used to anchoring and find your bearings on board. There’s a walking trail ashore as well as respectable snorkelling at [name of this spot]. But, in all honesty, there is far better snorkelling offerings to come. Settle into your first night aboard, gin and tonic or a cold beer at hand and count your lucky stars. This is the start of one of the best holidays you’re likely to have – lap it up!

We know you’ve heard about famous Whitehaven Beach and we’re pretty sure you’ve seen a photo or five. Whitehaven is likely one of the reasons you’re in the Whitsundays in the first place so let’s stop messing around and get a good look at it. From a boating perspective it also makes good sense to head in that direction too. The prevailing winds are the south east trades. Plan to move through the islands in an anti-clockwise direction and you’ll have a much calmer voyage.

While you’re at Whitehaven take a walk northwards, past Hill Inlet and walk up to the lookout for postcard-worthy photo opportunities.

Say goodbye to Whitehaven and sail northwards around the top of Whitsunday Island. Butterfly Bay, Maureens Cove, Manta Ray Bay and Luncheon Bay are all worthy contenders for the best snorkelling and diving sites amongst the Whitsunday Islands. Pick up a free public mooring, don a mask and snorkel and drop over the side of your boat. Flushed by ocean currents, the marine life is prolific, the visibility is usually pretty good and the bays are all well protected from the south easterlies.

Sail west along the north coast of Whitsunday Island and around the top of Hayman Island to arrive at Blue Pearl Bay. Today runs very much like Day 3: pick up a mooring, drop over the side with a mask and snorkel and explore the fringing reef. When you’ve had enough of that, head over to Langford Reef where a narrow sand spit makes a perfect platform for sunset drinks.

To quote musicians and fellow sailors the Wolverines, ít’s a bloody great day to go sailing’. The Whitsunday Passage awaits, a long stretch of waterway blessed with reliable south easterly trade winds and calm waters. It’s probably one of the best sailing days you’re likely to have so haul those sails up and head south after breakfast. When you’re done, choose an overnight anchorage at Long Island such as the dreamy one at Palm Bay for a comfortable night sleep.

Your last full day onboard, hoist the sails again and head over to Nara Inlet at the southern end of Hook Island. A narrow fjord-like waterway that penetrates deep into the island, it’s a great place to explore by dinghy. There’s walking tracks ashore to view ancient Aboriginal rock art as well as a small seasonal waterfall. Spend your last night onboard anchored here and savour the serenity of this peaceful anchorage.

With your last chance to sail these wonderful waters, stow the anchor early, hoist the sails for your final adrenaline rush of the wind in your hair and the salt spray on your face. Whether returning your yacht to Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour, you’ll likely return with a new outlook on life having experienced the freedom of the ocean waves.

We suspect you’ll be back with friends in tow!

About the author: Fiona Harper is a Queensland-based travel writer – follow Fiona at Travel Boating Lifestyle

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