Whitsunday Islands, Australia
The Whitsunday Islands are a collection of 74 tropical islands that are scattered throughout the Great Barrier Reef, just off the coast of central Queensland. Easily one of Australia’s premier tourist attractions, the region sees over 700,000 visitors annually.
The major draw card of the region is the ecologically diverse Great Barrier Reef – a World Heritage-listed site and the largest coral reef system in the world. Other highlights in the area include Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef.
Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach are the most popular entry points into the Whitsunday Islands archipelago. Not only are both ports naturally stunning and only a stone’s throw away from all the major attractions in the region, but both are also replete with excellent dining and drinking options, and enough activities to keep you entertained for more than a few days.
There are a couple of cruise ports in the Whitsunday Islands archipelago.
Hamilton Island: Cruise ships anchor just off Hamilton Island and tender passengers ashore to the marina. Once at the marina, passengers are able to walk to the main resort area on the other side of a small hill. Golf buggies are also available for hire.
Airlie Beach: Cruise ships dock at Abel Point Marina – a brisk 10 minute walk from the centre of town.
Both the Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach marinas are modern and equipped with all the facilities cruise passengers need when docking in a new place.
- Public toilets
- Wi-Fi access
- Tourist information centre.
If docking at Hamilton Island, passengers can either walk, take a golf buggy, or board the free shuttle bus service to get around the island – including the main resort area.
If docking at Airlie Beach, passengers can either walk to the city centr or take a taxi to get into town.
How To Get Around
Cruise passengers have a number of transportation options to choose from, depending on which port they dock in.
Hamilton Island: There are 3 ways to get around the island. Passengers can walk, drive a golf buggy, or take the free shuttle bus.
- It is a 5 minute journey to the Marina Café
- It is a 15 minute journey to the luxurious Qualia resort
- It is a 10 minute journey to the Hamilton Island Beach Club.
- It is a 5 minute journey to Hamilton Island airport.
Airlie Beach: Passengers docking at Airlie Beach can get around town by foot, taxi, bus or car.
- It is a 10 minute journey from Abel Point Marina to the centre of Airlie Beach.
- Cannonvale and Jubilee Pocket can be reached via local bus. Services run every 20-30 minutes from the centre of Airlie Beach.
- It is a 12 minute journey to Shute Harbour from the marina
- It is a 40 minute journey from the marina to Proserpine Airport.
- Currency - The local currency in the Whitsunday Islands is the Australian dollar. Coins come in 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2 denominations. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.
- Time Zone - The Whitsunday Islands is on Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). It is 10 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather - The Whitsunday Islands enjoy a sub-tropical climate all year round. The average temperature throughout the whole year hovers around 28 degrees Celsius. The mercury is slightly higher during December to February and slightly cooler during June to August. The region sees its highest rainfall during the warmer months.
- Snorkelling or diving in the Great Barrier Reef - Spend a half or full day swimming in one of the most ecologically beautiful parts of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world, home to thousands of species of marine life including tropical fish, sea turtles, manta rays, reef sharks and many more. The best way to enjoy the reef is by snorkelling or scuba diving in its crystal clear warm waters. Tours that include a day cruise to the reef, a couple of dives, and a buffet lunch start at around $200 per person.
- Aerial flight over Heart Reef - Hop on board a plane or helicopter and get a bird’s eye view of the stunning Great Barrier Reef – including the iconic Heart Reef. Prices start at around $200 for an hour-long scenic flight.
- Whitehaven Beach - Easily one of the most stunning beaches you’ll ever lay eyes upon, Whitehaven beach is a pristine 7 kilometre stretch of white sand beach that’s smack bang in the heart of the Whitsunday archipelago. The best way to access the beach is via a cruise. Full day cruises that dock at Whitehaven Beach start at around $150 per person and include all transportation, snorkelling gear and a buffet lunch.