Sailing the Whitsunday Islands: everything you need to know!

Ask any backpacker travelling Australia - The Whitsundays is on top of the list! Here is all you need to know about Sailing the Whitsundays.

Whitsunday Islands - The Islands

The Whitsundays are made up of 74 beautiful islands - each offering access to the Great Barrier Reef. Each island has its own character.

Hayman Island is one of the most famous and luxurious 5 star resorts in the world, Hamilton Island is an ideal couples getaway offering overnight stays, direct flights from major cities to the island and day trip options from Airlie Beach. Koala Adventure Island is a backpacker, party getaway whilst Daydream Island & Long Island offer more relaxed day tour options from Airlie Beach along with romantic overnight stays.

Whitsunday Island is the largest of them all and home to the iconic Whitehaven Beach - with water so pure that you can clean your jewellery in it, and white sand so beautiful that the beach has been voted as one of the Top 10 Beaches in the world! Accommodation is not available on Whitehaven Beach but you can take a Sailing Tour, Express Boat or Scenic Flight to get there.

hill inlet whitsunday islands australia
Hill Inlet Whitsunday Islands

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Where are The Whitundays?

The Whitsundays are accessible from Airlie Beach on Australia's Queensland East Coast. Flights are available from most cities direct to Airlie Beach, or to Hamilton Island. It is quite common for flights to be cheaper direct to Hamilton Island along with a one hour ferry to Airlie Beach - so keep that in mind!

Most backpackers will base themselves in the tiny, party orientated, beach side town of Airlie Beach to access the Whitsundays. Base Backpackers are located in the heart of Airlie Beach and offer Whitsunday Tour & Accommodation Packages.

Greyhound Bus & Campervan is the usual mode of travel for most backpackers exploring the entire East Coast. Greyhound offer a drop off in Airlie Beach (and when booking with Base a free hostel pick up and drop off is available). Alternatively, you can park your campervan at Base for cheap and use the hostel facilities.

airlie beach gateway to whitsundays
Airlie Beach Lagoon

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How to get to The Whitsunday Islands?

Although day tours are available, most backpackers will opt for an overnight sailing tour to explore the islands. 2 Day / 2 Night Sailing trips are a popular option as they allow you to really experience the Whitsundays and all that is on offer. Most of the sailing tours will include onboard accommodation, food, snorkelling, a visit to Whitehaven Beach, a walk along Hill Inlet Lookout (with views of Whitehaven) & BYO Alcohol.

There are many sailing tours to choose from depending on what you would prefer: Party Boats, luxurious catamarans that might just have a jacuzzi onboard, pirate style ships or Maxi Yachts that really give you a taste of fast paced, adventure sailing! On some boats Scuba Diving can be purchased onboard for extra. The overnight sailing tours are a GREAT way to meet new people and there is no better experience than watching the sunset over the Whitsundays!

If you are on a tight budget or short on time, there are also day tours available: Relax and sunbathe on a luxurious catamaran equipped with a bar, or head out on a high speed, adrenalin fused Ocean Rafting tour.

things to do in airlie beach ocean rafting
Ocean Rafting Airlie Beach / Whitsundays

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Have a chat with your travel agent to discuss which boat is right for you. Below is a summary of some of the boats available for your Whitsundays Sailing Trip, including the general age group, what style of boat it is and how many other people will be on the boat with you.

whitsunday islands trip atlantic clipper
Whitsunday Islands trip with Atlantic Clipper

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Whitsundays Sailing Trips

2 Day / 2 Night Whitsundays Sailing Trips

All of the below 2 day, 2 night sailing options include all meals during your trip and BYO alcohol.

Name of Boat - Type of Boat - Max Passengers - Activities - Age Group

Clipper - Cruising Yacht - 54 - Snorkelling + diving - 18 to 35yrs
New Horizon - Wooden Schooner - 54 - Snorkelling + diving - 18 to 35yrs
Ride to Paradise - Speed Boat - 32 - Snorkelling  - 18 to 70yrs
Tongarra - Sailing Catamaran - 24 - Snorkelling - 18 to 35yrs
Wings - Sailing Catamaran - 31 - Snorkelling - 12 to 70yrs
Avatar - Trimaran - 26 - Snorkelling - 18 to 35yrs
Spank Me - Racing Yacht - 27 - Snorkelling - 12 to 90yrs
Powerplay - Catamaran - 18 - Snorkelling -18 to 35yrs
Condor - Maxi Yacht - 29 - Snorkelling - 18 to 40yrs
British Defender - Maxi Yacht - 28 - Snorkelling - 18 to 40yrs
Habibi - Cruising Yacht - 26 - Snorkelling - 18 to 35yrs

2 Day / 1 Night Whitsundays Sailing Trips

All of the below 2 day / 1 night sailing options include all meals during your trip and BYO alcohol.

Name of Boat - Type of Boat - Max Passengers - Activities - Age Group

Siska - Maxi Yacht - 24 - Snorkelling - 18 to 40yrs
Hammer - Maxi Yacht - 23 - Snorkelling - 18 to 40yrs
Summertime - Cruising Yacht - 17 - Snorkelling + kayak - 8 to 70yrs
Walzing Mathilda - Cruising Yacht  -14 - Snorkelling - 8 to 90yrs
SV Whitehaven - Eco Sailing - 24 - Snorkelling + kayak - 18 to 35yrs
Samurai - Racing Yacht - 22 - Snorkelling - 18 to 38yrs

1 Day Whitsundays Sailing Trips

Not all of the below trips include meals or BYO.

Name of Boat - Type of Boat - Max Passengers - Activities - Age Group

Ocean Rafting - Speed boat - 25 - Snorkelling - 2 to 99yrs (No Meals - No BYO)
Camira - Sailing Catamaran - 72 - Snorkelling - 4 to 99yrs (Lunch - No BYO)
Big Fury - Speed Boat - 36 - Snorkelling - 2 to 80yrs (Lunch - No BYO)
Thundercat - Speed Boat - 32 - Snorkelling - 4 to 99yrs (Lunch - BYO)
Southern Cross - Racing Yacht - 22 - Snorkelling - 5 to 99yrs (Lunch - BYO)

Another way to see The Whitsunday Islands if you're short on time is from the air either by scenic flight or by doing a skydive!

Why visit The Whitsunday Islands?

Because the Whitsunday Islands are absolute paradise!

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