Sailing the Whitsundays


Getting there: The nearest major airport to the Whitsundays is Brisbane, from where you can take a domestic flight (Virgin Australia or Jetstar) to Proserpine. It’s then a 25-minute drive to Airlie Beach and a short boat ride to the various islands. Trivia time: The Whitsundays should actually be called the Whitmondays, because Captain Cook was later discovered to have been one day out with his calculations when naming the islands. The 74 islands in the collection were sadly in the direct line of 2017’s Cyclone Debbie, which badly damaged the natural environment and many of the resorts. One of best known spots in the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach, a 7km stretch of white sand that regularly makes lists of the world’s best beaches.

Clear, clean water and white sandy beaches make the Whitsundays one of Australia’s top tourist spots. While lazing the days away on one of the area’s 74 lush green islands might sound amazing, the best way to experience the Whitsundays is on the water. You can charter a yacht and explore the islands at your own speed! Rental companies offer either a “bareboat” charter, where you sail the boat yourself, or a skippered charter with crew provided. You don’t need formal sailing qualifications for a bareboat charter, but if you have limited boating experience, either take a skipper or choose a motor cruiser rather than a yacht. Our experience began with a half-day briefing from the rental company’s skipper, who took us out on the water and showed us the ropes, literally. One of our travelling companions had previously owned a boat, so the briefing was enough to give him confidence to skipper our catamaran for a five-day cruise. As most of the area’s islands are uninhabited, we could take our pick of empty beaches to snorkel from, or picnic on deserted islands with only some wallabies and goannas for company. There was an amazing feeling of freedom in being alone on the water. For livelier evenings, we moored at one of the resorts for dinner and drinks, and on quieter nights we made use of the barbecue on the catamaran’s back deck while watching the sunset.




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