How to Spend 1 Day in the Whitsundays
Beloved by sunseekers, divers, yachters, and adventurers, the Whitsunday Islands are one of Australia’s most alluring destinations. With just one day to spare, you’ll likely be based in Airlie Beach on the mainland, but there are still many opportunities to explore the islands. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in the Whitsundays.
Morning: Get Out Onto the Water
Either spend the whole day cruising around the Whitsundays, or break up your day into several different excursions. Full-day catamaran tours typically leave from the Airlie Beach area in the early morning and take you sailing, swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing all around the Whitsundays and the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef. An onboard lunch is often included. Otherwise, take a much shorter jet-skiing excursion around the islands, with options to explore South Molle and Daydream islands, Long Island, or Paradise Cove Resort in Airlie Beach.
Afternoon: Fly Over the Islands
If you’re not already on a full-day boat tour, head for Whitsunday Airport (most tour operators provide transfers) and board a small plane for a bird’s-eye view of the reef and islands. Short sightseeing flights typically fly over landmarks such as the aptly named heart-shaped Heart Reef, the sparkling Whitehaven Beach, Daydream Island, and Hill Inlet. Usually, all passengers have window seats for unobstructed views. To extend your trip, options include touching down on Whitehaven Beach, with time for swimming and snorkeling, or landing on the water at Hardy Lagoon, where you embark on a glass-bottom boat excursion before flying back to the airport.
Night: Glide Into Sunset
Head back onto solid ground and round out an action-packed day with a guided Segway tour that goes from Airlie Beach to Cannonvale. Typically happening around sunset, these tours often take you along the Whitsunday Bicentennial Boardwalk, and past Pioneer Bay, Shingley Beach, and the Whitsunday Botanic Gardens. Some tours wrap up at a local restaurant, where you can grab a bite to eat and toast the sun setting over the offshore islands.