Ahhh, the Whitsundays! One of the most exquisite places in Australia. I was fortunate enough to spend 5 days here recently and had the opportunity to do some snorkeling among the colourful coral, tropical fish and turtles. I also spent quite a bit of time at Whitehaven Beach which in my opinion is THE best beach in all of Australia and quite possibly the world. So let me show you how to spend 5 days in the Whitsundays.
Airlie Beach, The Whitsundays
Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays. This vibrant coastal town is the perfect place to launch yourself into fun and adventure either on the water or among the lush green rainforest. As soon as you arrive in Airlie Beach you a get sense of those laid back beach vibes and tropical atmosphere.
There are some great places to stay in Airlie Beach like the beautiful place that I got to stay at! 14 The Cove, right on the water, a big, beautiful 3 bedroom house thanks to Ray White Whitsundays. They have loads of amazing accommodation options for all price ranges.
Stephen (my bestie) and I enjoyed the afternoon in this gorgeous accommodation followed by one of the best meals I’ve ever had at 74 Taphouse.
Day trip with Explore Group
The next day was all about snorkelling and fun adventures with Explore Group. Explore Group is a dynamic, innovative and sustainable tour operator offering an exciting range of marine and land based excursions in Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach.
They are socially, culturally, and environmentally responsible taking care of the marine environment to pass on to future generations. They were great with explaining how to snorkel and ensuring that everyone felt safe and comfortable in the water.
Because the weather was a bit wild once we arrived we detoured to Whitehaven Beach instead of snorkeling on the reef. I was very excited to hear this as I love Whitehaven Beach. It was beautiful, sunny and warm in the sun. Stephen and I had fun running around on the beach, lying in the sun, taking photos and capturing some video before we had to get back on the boat and head to our snorkeling destination.
Time for some snorkelling
Off we jetted in the boat to Manta Ray bay. We put our wetsuits, snorkel and goggles on and jumped in the water. It was a bit fresh being Winter and all, but once you were in the water it felt fine. Watching this underwater world as you snorkel around is such a peaceful experience. The current was softly pulling me along the reef as I watched the tropical fish play among the colourful coral. I could have spent hours watching them.
Second Snorkel location
After 45 minutes of snorkelling at Manta Ray Bay we jumped back on the boat for a seafood buffet lunch then headed off to the next snorkel location. We pulled up at Butterfly Bay where there were swarms of beautiful reef fish swimming around. It felt like being in a giant aquarium. 45 minutes later I was feeling water logged! Time to hop back on the boat and dry out. Heading back to Airlie Beach I watched the sky change all kinds of colours with a smile on my face remembering what a fun day it was. I highly recommend doing a day trip with these guys. The boat is luxurious, the groups small and the staff were amazing!
Half day trip to Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays
The next day we had a half day trip booked to Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays. I have been on a few trips with this company and they are great. They do a lot of different packages through the Whitsundays but mainly focus on Whitehaven Beach. This half day tour included up to 2 hours on the Southern end of Whitehaven Beach. You can swim or snorkel in the pristine waters surrounding this tropical paradise. Or lie on the pure white silica sand and bask in the sun. There is also a guided walk to one of the newest lookouts.
Celebrating Reef Week
Once we arrived back in Airlie Beach we grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch and noticed a huge street parade heading down the main street of Airlie Beach. This was all part of the Reef Week celebrations that were on while we were staying there. The whole community got dressed up in underwater costumes and paraded through the streets. It was great to see. That night there were fireworks over the beach, markets in the park and a few celebrerties like Timomatic were entertaining the crowds with a small concert. The atmosphere was alive and buzzing.
Day trip with Red Cat Adventures
Day four and it was another day spent on the water but with Red Cat Adventures this time. This company is loads of fun and you are guaranteed to get wet and have a great time. Departing from the Coral Sea Marina this is a small red Thunder Cat boat with open windows. They get you suited up in wetsuits before you leave and take you for a bit of a wild ride (depending on the weather) before reaching the first destination for snorkeling. This time we stopped at Hook Island Reef directly across from Hayman Island.
We all jumped in and started snorkelling around. This particular area is right on the edge of a huge coral shelf which is amazing to see. I was so excited to spot a turtle!! It has always been my dream to swim with turtles and my dream finally came true! He slowly came up to the surface and went back down again as I tried to get as close to him as possible before he gracefully swam away! That made my day!!
The next snorkelling location was back at Manta Ray Bay but a different section this time.
We all got back on the boat for the ride through what they call the “washing machine”. This part of the trip was heaps of fun and we all got wet from the waves crashing over the boat. We also got plenty of air time which was fun.
Once we arrived at Manta Ray bay it was perfectly calm and we jumped back in the water for a snorkel with the fish and a giant Maori Wrasse called George. George is well known around these parts because he is so large!
Exploring Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach
After we finished the second snorkel we all jumped back on the boat and into dry clothes again and enjoyed a delicious lunch on the boat. We anchored at the back of Whitehaven Beach at the northern end known as Hill Inlet.
As the tide shifts, the white sand and blue-green hues of the inlet blend seamlessly to create a swirling fusion of turquoise colours. Its a stunning sight to see.
Once lunch was done we got off the boat and walked up and over the sand hill down onto the beach where Stephen and I flew the drones and enjoyed some leisure time before doing the 10 minute hike up to the lookout. There are three different lookouts each giving spectacular views over Hill Inlet.
After a massive day of fun in the sun we had a quick bite to eat at the Airlie Beach Hotel and hit the hay!
Rainforest wanderings with Absolute Airlie
Day 5 we were up early for a half day exploring the rainforest. Who knew there was a rainforest at the Whitsundays? The lovely Alice from Absolute Airlie picked us up from our accommodation and drove us to Conway National Park. We strolled through the ancient tropical rainforest that was filled with signing birds and morning mist. It was so tranquil and just what I needed to refresh after 3 fast paced days of being on the water. I am a little bit obsessed with palm trees so I was loving seeing all the beautifully shaped trees as I wandered along the dirt track.
Scenic Views from Mt Rooper
Feeling peaceful and centered again it was time to leave this hidden world and hike up Mt Rooper. Alice drove us over to the other side of Airlie Beach where we did a hike up Mt Rooper for spectacular views over the Whitsunday Islands. The hike is 7.2km through bush land until you reach the top with almost 360 degree views of the Whitsundays passage. You also go past Swamp Bay – a peaceful hidden beach full of natural treasures.
Alice is a fantastic guide and is so knowledgable about the area. If you are looking for something different to do while in the Whitsundays, make sure you check out there other tours – Absolute Airlie.
Scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef
You cant come to the Whitsundays and not do a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef. I mean, C’mon! It’s one of the most beautiful things to see from the air. And to be honest who knows how much longer it will be around! Alice dropped us off at GSL Whitsundays in the main street of Airlie and they transported us to the airport where the scenic flight was to begin.
After a brief safety demo we jumped on the plane, took our seats and off we flew into the air. I was a bit nervous because it was a small plane and it was a very windy day. It was a bit bumpy flying over the mountains but once we were out at sea it was very smooth.
We flew past Whitehaven Beach which is awesome to see from the air. The aqua blue water against the pure white sand looks stunning.
Hill Inlet from a distance is such a magical sight to see. You can really see the patterns of the swirling sand among the blue water.
And then…the reef! We flew past heart reef twice. A love heart shaped coral reef that is very famous in the Whitsundays.
Then we flew over the outer stretches of the reef which is spectacular to see! The aqua blue water against the contrasting brown reef really is a wonder.
A scenic flight over the reef costs $249 but is worth every penny. GSL Aviation is a great company to go with as they fly past everything twice so that both sides of the plane gets a chance to see and photograph everything!
If you can’t tell by now I am so in love with this part of Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most precious resources Australia and the world has and I hope it is around for future generations to marvel at and enjoy like I’ve been so fortunate to do. If you have never visited the Whitsundays I urge you to put it at the top of your bucket list. I remember having such a serious case of the post holiday blues after my first trip to the Whitsunday’s as it had such an impact on me.
Huge thanks to Whitsundays Queensland for this opportunity! Even though this was a sponsored stay, of course all opinions are my own.
Have you been to the Whitsundays before? I would love to know what your experience was like. Or let me know if its on your bucket list by leaving a comment below. 🙂
Check out the video blog from our trip below! 🙂