Whitsunday Islands

Formed 100 million years ago by volcanic eruptions under the Coral Sea, the Whitsundays are a group of 74 tropical islands off the central coast of Queensland. Originally inhabited by the Ngaro people, and named by Captain James Cook as he sailed through on what he thought was Whitsunday, the archipelago presents a smooth blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

The islands begin to appear just off the coast of Airlie Beach, and are accessible both by ferry and by direct flight from many Australian cities.

A retreat to the Whitsunday Islands can be whatever you want it to be - a discreet, relaxed romantic getaway spent stretched out on the stunning beaches, or a thrilling adventure kayaking between and hiking across the islands, or diving deep under the coral sea to the Great Barrier Reef.


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Whitsunday Islands facts at a glance
Flight time:
22 hours
Time difference:
10 hours
Currency:
Australian dollar
Flying from
Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle

Best time to go

September is the perfect time to visit the Whitsunday Islands - the weather is at its most consistently sunny and least humid; the average daily temperature is a toasty 26°C. Humpback and Pilot whales can often be seen flipping their fins and playfully nosing around boats sailing from island to island, and guests will be able to safely participate in water sports, as well as diving and snorkelling, as this is the last month before 'stinger season' - when jellyfish are most abundant in the water.

Things to do

Other than enjoying the languid delights of spending your holiday on a tropical island - building your tan on the white, silica beaches and dipping your toes in the warm Coral Sea - there are endless activities based around the Great Barrier Reef. See the wonders of this World Heritage site first hand either from the amazing underwater Reefworld pontoon, or drop below the azure waves in a wetsuit and explore the thriving, kaleidoscopic marine world of the reef.

A range of cruises leave from both Airlie Beach and some of the Whitsunday Islands, ranging from half a day long to several nights. This will give you a chance to see more than one of the islands and experience the varied delights that each has to offer - not to mention the stunning white sands and crystal-clear waters of Whitehaven Beach.

Thinking of proposing? What better way than to take your other half on a scenic helicopter or seaplane flight, and pop the question while flying over romantic natural beauty spot Heart Reef.

Food and drink

Main culinary influences on the Whitsunday Islands and in Airlie Beach are seafood, Italian, and modern Australian. Airlie beach is brimming with relaxed restaurants and beach-front cafes; try a delicious wrap, burrito or dessert waffle at The Orange Quote, or for modern French gourmet that will not disappoint go to Deja Vu.

Many of the Whitsunday islands also have restaurants and bars serving a delicious range of cuisines.

In the evening

Airlie Beach - otherwise known as the party capital of Queensland - is bustling with pubs, bars and nightclubs. In the ever-popular Beaches, you'll find a relaxed atmosphere, pool tables, and cheap jugs of beer. For live music and a pint, go to Paddy's Shenanigans, and for an unforgettable night on the tiles you won't be disappointed with Phoenix or Mama Africa.

On the islands themselves, there is a much more relaxed atmosphere. Curl up on the beach with a cocktail and stare out across the horizon as the blazing sun sinks behind the ridged silhouettes of the other islands, throwing the rippling ocean into stark relief and colouring the endless sky with a thousand shades of deepest red and pastel orange before the inky, star-studded blanket of night takes over.

Health and entry requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance and vaccinations and / or special medication for your destination. Please consult your GP for advice at least one month ahead of travel. It is essential that you meet the visa and passport requirements for your chosen destination. Visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (http://www.fco.gov.uk) website for up to date entry requirements listed by country.


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