Discover the magic of Whitsunday Island, the largest island in the Whitsundays group and home to the world-renowned Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.
Here you can let your toes sink into soft silica sand, meander along a choice of trails in the Whitsunday Island National Park, take in scenic views from several hill-top lookouts and overnight at some of the prettiest campgrounds in the Whitsundays.
The Whitsunday Islands National Park is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, famed for its natural beauty and outstanding examples of reef ecosystem development and diversity.
Stroll along the scenic Whitehaven Beach or paddle a kayak along Hill Inlet, the scenic cove located at the northern end of Whitehaven. Later climb to Hill Inlet Lookout for magnificent views overlooking the beach.
From the lookout you can see how tidal influences and shifting sands create a never-ending fusion of stunning colours in the shallow water along the shore.
For uninterrupted views over the Whitsunday Islands, take the walking track through tropical forest to Whitsunday Peak. From here you can spot several other beautiful beaches on Whitsunday Island.
To get a birds-eye view over the island and beach, hire a seaplane or helicopter, then indulge in a champagne picnic ashore.
Alternatively, sail, cruise, kayak or take a jet boat tour from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour.
Experience the pure white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach – this photogenic sweep of pristine sand stretches for more than 7km (4mi) along the shoreline of Whitsunday Island.
Stroll along the beach and enjoy the mesmerising, swirling patterns of luminous white sand and water. Dip your feet into the crystal-clear water and watch out for schools of tiny tropical fish and sea turtles cruising by. Then relax with a picnic soaking up scenic views across to Haslewood Island.
If you're feeling more adventurous, stride out on the Solway circuit track and Chance Bay track, which form part of the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail.
Whitehaven Beach day-use area allows you to spend all day on this iconic Whitsundays beach. Or you can overnight at the beachside camping area, pleasantly tucked away in lush, coastal vine forest and fragrant eucalypt woodlands.
Overnight sailors can anchor off Whitehaven or across the bay at Chalkies Beach on Haslewood Island.
Explore the Whitsunday Islands National Park along a choice of walking tracks: all are part of the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail – one of Queensland's 10 Great Walks – a boating-walking trail that explores the Whitsunday islands.
Hill Inlet Lookout – Take an uphill stroll to one or all of the three lookouts on the crest of Tongue Bay. From there admire the breathtaking and uninterrupted views over the inlet and the 7km (4mi) white-sand shoreline of Whitehaven Beach.
Marvel at the ever-changing shapes of blue water and white silica sand created by the moving tides. Continue along the circuit track, heading downhill to the trail junction, with a choice of heading back to Tongue Bay or continuing on to Lookout Beach.
Access to the track is from Hill Inlet or Tongue Bay, which sits on the northern side of Hill Inlet. The 1.3km (0.8mi) return walk should take around 40 minutes to complete.
Lookout Beach – Branching off the Hill Inlet Lookout trail at Tongue Point, this track descends through coastal forest to the ivory-white sands of Lookout Beach.
Situated at the mouth of Hill Inlet, you can enjoy the sunshine or rest in the shade.
Walk along a boardwalk lined with lush, green cycads on this section of the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail and learn how the Whitsundays' landscape has shifted and changed over time. This short walk should take 20 minutes only.
Continue on to Betty's Beach and be spoilt by spectacular scenery as you wander along the pristine white sand.
Solway Circuit – Starting from Whitehaven Beach, this circuit trail winds its way uphill through grasstrees, cycads and rock ferns to a natural rock platform that offers spectacular views over Solway Passage and surrounding islands.
Learn from signs along the way how this land has slowly transformed over thousands of years into this stunning island archipelago.
The 2.4km (1.5mi) return walk should take around 40 minutes to complete.
Chance Bay – This track leads through secluded wooded hills covered in hoop pines and tropical rainforest to the crystal-clear waters of Chance Bay.
Relax on the beach, swim in the protected waters of Chance Bay and explore the vibrant reefs with a snorkel and mask. Come for a day or spend a night or two camping under the stars at Whitehaven Beach or Chance Bay camping areas.
The 7.2km (4.5mi) return trail branches off the Solway circuit, which begins near Whitehaven Beach camping area. Alternatively, you can access the track from Chance Bay.
Allow up to three hours to complete the circuit trail.
Dugong–Sawmill Track – Starting from either Dugong Beach or Sawmill Beach, this section of the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail takes you on a winding path beneath towering hoop pines and tropical rainforest.
Near Dugong Beach, wind your way beneath stands of giant rainforest trees, solitaire palms and a fairyland collection of moss, lichens and fungi. Look for marine turtles cruising by in the iridescent-blue coastal waters.
If you're heading from Sawmill Beach when the tide is high, be prepared to get wet – you have to wade through Sawmill Creek to reach the track.
Extend your visit by camping at Dugong Beach camping area. Allow one hour to complete the 3km (1.8mi) walk.
The Dugong–Sawmill track is located between Dugong Beach camping area and Sawmill Beach day-use area, on the western side of Whitsunday Island in Cid Harbour.
Whitsunday Peak – Escape the busy beaches and explore tropical rainforest gullies and windblown heath on this steep uphill climb to the 437m-high summit – the roof of the Whitsundays – and be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the islands.
The Whitsunday Peak track is accessed from Sawmill Beach day-use area in Cid Harbour.
Allow four hours for this demanding 5km (3mi) return walk. Along the way, look out for graceful sea-eagles who use Cid Harbour as their nesting ground.
Whitsunday Cairn – Hike through dry rainforest, open woodland, hoop pines and groves of giant grasstrees on this short but demanding hike from Cairn Beach to Whitsunday Cairn.
By following the ridge line you hike through dry open woodland past giant grasstrees. One there, enjoy the breathtaking views from the windswept and exposed, rocky outcrop just below the towering Whitsunday Cairn.
Note: There is no defined track. Instead, look for triangular track markers that intermittently mark the way. This walk is for fit and experienced hikers only. Allow three hours for this 4km (2.5mi) return hike.
Cairn Beach is located on the western side of the northernmost tip of Whitsunday Island. Stay overnight at Cairn Beach camping area and head out next morning to snorkel and dive around the coral reef fringes.
There are no resorts or hotels on Whitsunday Island, instead a choice of several campgrounds provide the perfect opportunity to stay longer and experience the island at your own pace.
You are required to book and pay for your camping permit before arriving at the camping area. You may book online at Queensland National Parks website, at an over-the-counter booking office or at a self-service kiosk. Advance bookings are recommended for holiday periods. Fees for camping permits are AUD$6.75 per person per night, or AUD$27.00 per family per night.
Note: In general, the camping areas can be reached by boat only. They are open 24 hours a day. Check-in after 2pm and check-out by 11am on the day of departure. Open fires are prohibited, generators are not permitted and you need to bring essentials such as drinking water, food, rubbish bags and insect repellent.
Camping areas include…
Whitehaven Beach – Located just behind Whitehaven Beach, on the south-east side of Whitsunday Island, this popular camping area is the perfect base camp for exploring Whitehaven Beach and beyond.
There are 10 defined sites at Whitehaven Beach for a maximum of 36 people. Facilities include hybrid toilets and a sheltered, communal picnic table.
Access to this site is possible at all tides. You can anchor at Whitehaven Beach, but no public moorings are available at Whitehaven Beach; the closest public moorings can be found at Tongue Bay.
Note: There is no camping on the beach, instead individual camp sites are nestled behind the beach among lowland vine forest and eucalypt woodland.
Cairn Beach – Noted for its outstanding physical beauty, Cairn Beach is regarded as the Whitsundays' best camping area for snorkelling and bushwalking adventures.
The campground nestles within a secluded and sheltered bushland site, among clusters of fragrant bottlebrush and a pretty rubble beach. There are four defined sites for a maximum of 12 people. Facilities include composting toilets and picnic benches.
Stroll along the beach at low tide and look for sea cucumbers, starfish and crabs sheltering under the rocks.
Discover excellent snorkelling along the fringing reef at the south-east end of Cairn Beach. Or paddle a kayak or canoe around the surrounding islands and bays for a blue-water adventure.
Hike the nearby Whitsunday Cairn track, part of the Whitsunday Ngaro sea trail, and be rewarded with breathtaking views from the volcanic rock formation known as the Whitsunday Cairn.
Cairn Beach camping area is located on the western side of the northernmost tip of Whitsunday Island.
The beach is accessible from mid to high tide by shallow craft only. Anchorage at this site is poor and no public moorings are available.
Chance Bay – Nestled in a quiet bay, Chance Bay offers an elevated camping area with excellent views extending across the sandy beach to Pentecost Island, the Lindeman Group and Cape Conway.
The camp site is an open area without separately defined sites, and is suitable for a maximum of 12 people. Facilities consist of a composting toilet and picnic tables.
Snorkel the gentle waters of Chance Bay and explore the marine life. Watch out for sea turtles popping up to the surface for a rest — green, flatback and hawksbill sea turtles live in this natural habitat.
Take a hike along the Chance Bay track, which forms part of the Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail, and joins the Solway circuit track to lead you to Whitehaven Beach.
Chance Bay camping area is located on the south-east side of Whitsunday Island. The camping area can be reached by boat only at mid to high tide. While a good anchorage during northerly winds, access can be difficult during south-easterly winds.
Dugong Beach – Set in a lush, rainforest setting with plenty of room and a good sandy beach, this is one of the largest camping areas in the Whitsundays and is perfect for large groups.
Take a stroll beneath towering hoop pines and shady tropical rainforest on the nearby Dugong–Sawmill track. While walking through coastal rainforest, look out for turtles or dugong surfacing the water.
Paddle a canoe or kayak around Cid Harbour, an anchorage used by the Australian and allied navies during World War II.
Dugong Beach camping area is located on the western side of Whitsunday Island in Cid Harbour, with seven defined sites for a maximum of 36 people. Facilities include composting toilets and sheltered picnic tables.
The camping area can be reached by boat only. There is protected anchorage, and access is best at mid to high tide.
Joe's Beach – Admire stunning views of Cid and Molle islands from this secluded beach camping area set amid the towering rainforest, with excellent snorkelling on the nearby fringing reef that is exposed at low tide.
This is an open camping area without separately defined sites for a maximum of 12 people. Facilities consist of composting toilet and picnic tables. The camping area can be reached by boat only.
It's easy to find your own secluded spot among the towering rainforest lining this sandy beach. At low tide, grab your snorkel and explore the stunning variety of marine life and coral along the fringing reef, just metres from the shore.
Paddle your canoe or kayak and cruise through the deep, blue waters to explore Cid Harbour, an anchorage used by the Australian and allied navies during World War II.
Joe's Beach camping area is located on the western side of Whitsunday Island in Cid Harbour. Anchoring is permitted in Cid Harbour. There is protected anchorage, and access is best at mid to high tide.
Nari's Beach – Nestled against a steep hill, this private camping area is set under a rainforest canopy with outstanding views of Cid Island.
Nari's Beach camping area is located on the western side of Whitsunday Island in Cid Harbour and comprises an open area without separately defined sites for a maximum of 6 people. Facilities consist of composting toilet and picnic tables.
Dip your toes into the calm waters of the beach or grab your snorkel and explore the reef.
Spend the day cruising through the Whitsundays' deep, blue waters on your kayak, canoe or boat.
The camping area can be reached by boat only. A reef line is close to shore with good access at mid-tide and plenty of anchorage.
Note: Do not swim in Cid Harbour. Serious injury or death may occur from shark attack.
Anytime, but for the best weather visit the Whitsundays anytime between May and November. However, late March through December are considered the best holiday months.
The Whitsundays enjoys a tropical climate with hot summers, warm winters and a pleasant spring and autumn.
Summer, from December to February, averages between 25°C (77°F) and 33°C (91°F) and winter from 18°C (64°F) to 26°C (78°F).
For more climate info: Whitsundays Weather Guide…
The Whitsunday Islands lie off the central coast of Queensland, around 900km (559mi) north of Brisbane and 600km (372mi) south of Cairns.
The most convenient route to the Whitsunday Islands is by air to either Hamilton Island Airport (HTI) or Proserpine Airport (PPP).
There are no direct international flights to Hamilton Island Airport (HTI) or Proserpine Airport (PPP).
From international destinations this may require first flying into Brisbane Airport (BNE) – or Cairns, Melbourne or Sydney – followed by a connecting flight to either Hamilton Island Airport (HTI) or Proserpine Airport (PPP).
Hamilton Island Airport (HTI), also known as Great Barrier Reef Airport, is the main gateway airport to the Whitsundays.
The smaller Proserpine Airport (PPP), also known as Whitsunday Coast Airport, is located 14km (8.6mi) south of Proserpine town, and is best if you are staying at Airlie Beach or are picking up a yacht charter from Shute Harbour.
For more about getting to the Whitsundays…
|› Brampton Island||› Hayman Island||› Long Island|
|› Daydream Island||› Hook Island||› South Molle Island|
|› Hamilton Island||› Lindeman Island||› Whitsunday Island|
Latest update: Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island: 5 May, 2022