The Whitsunday Islands Group is compromised of 22 of the most pristine and beautiful islands in the world and is part of the Great Barrier Reef National Park. The islands are part of the 74 islands of the Cumberland Group. The biggest island is Whitsunday Island with its famous Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. The Whitsundays boast many amazing snorkelling spots and protected anchorages. Some of the best locations can be found further out in the central Whitsunday Island group, like on the outside of the Whitsundays facing the Coral Sea for example. The area is somewhat ideal for a sailing and snorkelling tour and offers one of Australia’s best beaches, Whitehaven Beach.
In the early days of Tourism, young travellers would arrive in the then one-pub-shop-village of Airlie Beach and arrange their sailing tours directly with the laid back sailors of small boats. These early travellers told their friends, who told their friends, and so on. The next step was the ‘chair booking’. Each boat used to have their bar chairs with their name. Sitting on the chair meant to book a tour on that boat.
Today you can still find some of these refurbished chairs in the restaurants of the Airlie Beach Hotel. The sailing tour industry grew, to what it is today, largely by word of mouth. Locals look back fondly upon these early days when there were more parties than rules.
The Whitsundays now are still in beautiful and pristine condition. This is thanks to many years of protection being a National Park, but also due to their remote location. Travellers these days have the choice of many fast, safe and professionally run vessels, mostly part of big marketing groups. Today ISail Whitsundays is proud to be one of the few independent boat companies in the Whitsundays. The owners still skipper the boats every now and then.
The Whitsundays are located on the east coast of central Queensland, approximately 1120km north of Brisbane and 630km south of Cairns. The Bruce Highway (Highway #1 or #100) is the main route connecting towns between Cairns and Brisbane. The turnoff to Airlie Beach (the Whitsunday mainland) is just north of Proserpine.
The area is serviced by 2 airports, Hamilton Island (HTI) and Whitsunday Coast Proserpine Airport (PPP), a 40min coach ride from Airlie Beach. We recommend to fly into Proserpine for tours departing from Airlie Beach, however regular ferry services operate between Hamilton and Airlie Beach. The domestic airlines Jetstar and Virgin Australia are offering flights to the Whitsundays. Tiger Air now flies directly from Syndey. Further flight services are available to/from Mackay Airport, approx. 2 hours south of Airlie Beach. Car hire is available from both Proserpine and Mackay Airport.
Coach companies servicing Airlie Beach (the Whitsunday mainland) are Greyhound Australia and Premier Motor Service with over 10 services daily. Queensland Rail Travel and Tilttrain services are linking Proserpine to all major destinations from Brisbane to Cairns. Connecting Coaches operate from Proserpine to Airlie Beach.
The Whitsundays have nice warm weather all year round. Summers are hot and humid, winters mild (around 20 degrees) and dry. The water temperature stays around 20 degrees in winter. The best times to visit are late autumn and spring. During the tropical wet season months (Jan-Apr) there’s a higher possibility of rain.
Airlie Beach offers all kinds of accommodation styles, from Backpacker, Caravan Park, AirB&B, self contained Apartment to luxury resort. Your travel agent can also book your accommodation in Airlie Beach.
The Whitsundays run tours and accommodation all year round and there is usually plenty of accommodation available. However we recommend to book ahead when travelling during the following busy times: school holiday periods, Easter, Airlie Beach / Hamilton Island Race Week (August) and Christmas.