The shining jewel in the crown of Australia's coastline, few can resist the promise of white sand, turquoise lagoons and sunny weather that the Whitsundays has become synonymous for. If there was one destination that lived up to its picture-perfect post cards, it's this tropical island region. With the Great Barrier Reef lapping at its door step, a total of 74 sun-drenched islands make up the Whitsundays, a hand full of which are home to luxury resorts while the rest remain peacefully deserted – apart for the odd honeymooning couple enjoying a private beach-side picnic. From sailing at sunset to snorkelling trips or simply lazing underneath palm trees, relaxation and romance awaits you in the Whitsundays.
While the island's resorts are ideal for a simple, relaxing holiday, there are still plenty of things to do in the Whitsundays. The most famous of which is the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you snorkel, scuba-dive or simply sail around the World Heritage listed reef, a trip to the world's largest coral reef system will not disappoint. The reef marine park is home to a wide range of sea life, with sightings of turtles, dolphins, clownfish and coral trout, a regular occurrence. Whales are also common in the Whitsundays during the winter months. To see them at their best, consider a whale watching tour. Back on land, Whitehaven Beach is a popular picnic spot with over 4 miles of pristine white sand to lay your blanket on.
Thanks to its tropical location, dining in the Whitsundays is a gourmet experience with fresh and local produce readily on hand. Seafood and fresh fruit in particular are favoured by the Whitsundays' restaurants, often found onsite at the island's resorts. Qualia on Hamilton Island is one such resort where fresh and healthy cuisine is served daily. Enjoy the day's catch at the fine dining Long Pavilion restaurant or a tropical cocktail poolside at Pebble Beach restaurants. For contemporary dining with a scenic view, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club has an onsite restaurant and bar that overlooks the marina.
Where to Stay
The majority of Whitsundays accommodation can be found on Hamilton Island. From resorts to hotels, self contained apartments and holiday houses, the island accommodates all types of travellers. For luxury boutique accommodation, private island resorts can be found on Daydream Island, Lindeman Island, Long Island and Hayman. Popular with honeymooners, these resorts can often be booked as part of all-inclusive holiday packages and offer luxury suites as well as onsite spas, pool side bars and various water sports. For something truly special, consider staying on a charted yacht and experience the ultimate in ocean views.
The Whitsundays is less a destination for shopping and more a place where money is best spent on experiences. And the options are endless, from scuba diving to pampering spa treatments and delectable seafood feasts. If you do so wish to bring a memento home from your holiday, leave the coral and shells on the beach and opt for a souvenir from your resort's gift shop instead. If a kitsch fridge magnet isn't your style, maintain that relaxed holiday feeling well after you've arrived home by picking up a pampering product from one of the island's spas.
Whitsundays Like a Local
Locals who call the Whitsundays home will know all about the fun and action that takes place at Airlie Beach. As the mainland gateway to the Whitsundays, the beach is a constant hive of activity, with backpackers partying along the nightlife strip to yachts setting out to the reef and holiday goers simply enjoying a swim. Be warned however, swimming at Airlie Beach itself isn't advisable as the area is prone to jellyfish. To avoid being stung you can hire a stinger suit, or simply take a dip in the beach's man-made lagoon – a perfect substitute.