Things to do in the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island

Things to do in  The Whitsundays & Hamilton Island

Wonders of the reef

White-sand beaches, lush eucalyptus forests, year-round sun, and the Great Barrier Reef beckon travelers to the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island, highlights of Australia's tropical north. Sprinkled like precious gems along Queensland's Coral Sea coast, the idyllic islands are an adventurer's playground where things to do include island-hopping by yacht or catamaran, snorkeling around marine wildlife-filled reefs, bushwalking, kayaking, waterskiing, and soaking up the sun on Whitehaven, undoubtedly one of the world's most beautiful beaches.

Top 9 attractions in The Whitsundays & Hamilton Island

Whitehaven Beach

With its powder-white silica sands, gleaming turquoise waters, and fringe of lush rainforest, it’s little surprise that Whitehaven is one of Australia’s most photographed beaches. Stretching for almost 3 miles (5 kilometers) along the coast of Whitsunday Island, it’s a magnificent sight and an idyllic spot for swimming and snorkelling.More

Hill Inlet

On the northern end of the Whitsundays’ Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet is one of the most photographed spots in Australia. When the tide is low, visitors are treated to fantastic views of the inlet’s swirling white sand and turquoise tropical waters.More

Heart Reef

Off the coast of Queensland, the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. The portion called Hardy Reef is perhaps the most popular with visitors thanks to its postcard-perfect Heart Reef—which, true to the name, is heart-shaped.More

Whitsunday Passage

The Whitsunday Passage is the waterway that carves through the middle of the Whitsunday Islands, in the heart of northeastern Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The famous islands, perhaps some of Australia's most popular tourist attractions, are named after the passage, which was given its title by the famed explorer Captain James Cook in 1770.More

Hamilton Island

The largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island has some of the best beach resorts in the Pacific, right on the cusp of the Great Barrier Reef. Famed for its luxury resorts and water sports, stunning views await at every turn—pristine white sands, lush rain forest, and an endless expanse of glittering ocean.More

Shute Harbour

Shute Harbour is a center of transit for visitors to the Whitsunday Islands. Amazingly for such a low-population area, the harbor is actually Australia's second busiest commuter port. Although there’s a small village here, the vast majority of tourists simply pass through town on their way to catch a ferry or a cruise around the islands.More

Whitsunday Crocodile Safari

The Whitsunday Crocodile Safari offers you the opportunity to see saltwater crocodiles in their natural environment as you cruise around the estuaries and wetlands between the Whitsunday coast and the Proserpine River. There are about 150 of the 'salties' living in the estuaries, so keep your camera ready - the chances of a sighting are good.As well as croc-spotting, you can keep an eye out for the many other kinds of native wildlife that live in these parts - birds, reptiles, marine creatures and mammals. In addition to the cruise through the estuaries, you'll be taken on a tractor-drawn wagon train ride through the Goorganga Wetlands and through melaleuca forest and mangrove systems.Your guides provide commentary and 'bush tucker' - damper (a kind of simple bread) and billy tea, cooked over a fire. They'll also try to catch you a mud crab so they can show you its features before releasing it back into the river.More
Reefworld Pontoon

Reefworld Pontoon

A popular and convenient spot for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, Reefworld consists of two giant pontoons floating over sheltered Hardy Reef—one of the thousands of small reefs that make up the Barrier Reef. From here, you can snorkel and dive year round and discover the colorful corals and abundant marine life that call these waters home.More
Daydream Island Living Reef

Daydream Island Living Reef

The Living Reef, the star attraction of Daydream Island in the Whitsunday Islands, is home to over 100 species of marine fish, coral, and invertebrates such as starfish, sea cucumbers, and crabs. The artificial reef is a microcosm of the Great Barrier Reef. Visitors can either go snorkeling or stay dry in the underwater observatory.More

Top activities in The Whitsundays & Hamilton Island

Whitehaven Beach Half-Day Cruises

Whitehaven Beach Half-Day Cruises

2 Day Great Barrier Reef "Reefsuites" Experience
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Whitsunday Explorer 2 Nights Small Ship Cruising
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Whitsunday Explorer 2 Nights Small Ship Cruising

per group
$2,036.39  $672.01 savings

All about The Whitsundays & Hamilton Island

When to visit

With a year-round tropical climate and an average annual temperature of 80°F (27°C), the Whitsundays and Hamilton Island are great to visit year-round. September and October are the peak months, as this is when the skies are at their clearest, and the weather is typically warm but not humid. For similar conditions but without the crowds, consider a November visit.

Getting around

Getting around the Whitsunday Islands requires traveling by boat. Overnight sailing trips and day cruises depart from Airlie Beach on the mainland and go from island to island. Travelers on overnight sailing trips typically explore the islands by day and sleep on the boats.You can also charter your own yacht or catamaran. Car-free Hamilton Island has its own airport—with direct connections to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane—and can be explored on foot or by golf cart.

Traveler tips

While cruising around the Whitsundays, snorkelers and divers can jump off and explore the Ngaro Underwater Marine Sculpture Trail, made up of six large metal sculptures inspired by marine life and installed at popular locations around the Whitsundays including Langford Island reef, Blue Pearl Bay, Manta Ray Bay and Horseshoe Bay. As well as creating a new attraction, the sculptures act as a new base for coral growth and as shelter for marine life.


People Also Ask

What is the best month to go to the Whitsundays?

September and October are the best months to visit the Whitsundays. The skies are typically clear, and you are likely to experience warm weather and low humidity. These months are also the peak times for visitors, so to avoid the crowds (particularly during a school holiday), consider a November visit.

How many days do you need in the Whitsundays?

You need between three and five days in the Whitsundays to visit different islands and beaches and to try out as many adventures as possible. Tours to places such as Whitehaven Beach typically take at least half a day, and you’ll want to set aside some time to simply relax.

Can you swim in the ocean in the Whitsundays?

Yes. The Whitsunday Islands boast some of Australia’s best beaches and swimming, snorkeling, and diving spots. Many snorkeling and sailing tours offer guided trips. However, you do need to be aware of jellyfish and should consider wearing a stinger suit (similar to a wetsuit) for protection in the warmer months.

What’s so special about the Whitsundays?

The Whitsunday Islands are renowned worldwide for white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and lush forests, as well as opportunities for island-hopping, sailing adventures, and water sports. Behind their aesthetic beauty, the islands are rich in the history of the Ngaro Aboriginal people and in wildlife diversity, including rare and endangered species.

Are there box jellyfish in the Whitsundays?

Yes. Box jellyfish, Irukandji, bluebottles, and other jellyfish species can be found in the Whitsundays. While a rare occurrence, a sting can cause a severe, even fatal, reaction (especially from an Irukandji), so it is important to treat it properly. Stinger season in the Whitsundays is late October through May.

Why is Hamilton Island so popular?

Hamilton Island is one of Australia’s most visited islands, boasting pristine white beaches and a bounty of coral and marine life. The island’s infrastructure includes a commercial airport, as well as resorts, golf courses, and other comforts. Many visitors use it as a base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.

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