City Guide: The Whitsunday Islands

Located on the coast of Queensland, Australia, this cluster of 74 islands forms part of the Great Barrier Reef. Known for pristine beaches and incredible coral reefs for snorkeling and diving, the majority of the islands in this region are designated national parks in an effort to help preserve and protect the area from the over half a million tourists who visit the Whitsundays annually.

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Easily accessible by air through Proserpine Airport, or by water into the main Abell Point Marina, the main stretch of Airlie Beach is just a scenic drive into this quaint beach town.

With a ton of tourist shops, cafés, restaurants and small boutiques, everything you could possibly need for your trip can be found on this beachfront stretch. They even created a local pool and park area. It’s open to the public to spend their day swimming and tanning under the warm Australian sun without having to worry about the jellyfish found in the harbour.

This cozy beach town is a backpacker haven; a ton of budget accommodation and affordable hostel options are available just steps away from the water. Located right in the center of town, Beaches Backpacker (356 Shute Harbour Road) has comfortable multiple dorm bedrooms, a communal kitchen and recreation area, and they even give you a discount on your first meal at the in-house restaurant and bar. Walking along Shute Harbour Road, you’ll also find a handful of travel agents who can help you plan and book your excursions and adventures once you arrive. Whether you have a few days or a whole week, there is plenty to do and explore.

However, the best way to explore this area is by boat.

Depending on how long you have, there is an array of sailing options to choose from that range from one day excursions to multiple overnight trips though the Whitsundays. The beauty of this area is that everything is accessible by foot, just short walk away from Airlie Beach, a making it extremely tourist friendly spot to visit.

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The number one “must-see” destination in this area is Whitsunday Island, the largest island in this archipelago. Whitsunday Island is home to a stunning stretch of 4.5km of fine, brilliant white silica sand, and Whitehaven Beach is one of the most iconic beaches in the entire world. Hike through the sensational Australian island to the raised lookout at Tongue Point for a spectacular view of land and water.

Sail on and explore the wonders of Hamilton Island (the most developed and populated Whitsunday island), Dent Island (a golf lover’s dream with a private resort and 18 hole course), Hook Island (the second largest island known for the amazing snorkeling, birds and wildlife) and many others.

The views under the sea are just as beautiful as the vistas above. Channel your inner explorer and snorkel or scuba dive under the sea to swim through the incredible coral reels and with exotic sea life. With a trained guide, first time divers can venture almost 10 meters under water, allowing you to see some of the most amazing aquatic life including fish, coral, and sea turtles. Be adventurous!

Have you been to this part of the world? What other City Guides would you be interested in reading? Let us know in the comments!

Images provided by Caleigh Alleyne


Caleigh is a public relations practitioner who has wandered her way through thirty countries and counting. Based in Toronto, Canada, she loves exploring and is always on the lookout for her next adventure or creative project.

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