How to get to the Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands are Australia's sailing playground. 1,132 kilometres north of Brisbane or 737 kilometres south of Cairns the Whitsundays lie off the Queensland coast from Airlie Beach.
There are 74 islands scattered throughout the Whitsundays most are uninhabited but there are resort islands ranging from budget style accommodation to 5 star accommodation.
The Whitsunday Islands are better known for it's fleet of sailing vessels and you are able to find just about any sort of sailing trip you would like. The Whitsundays are some distance from the Great Barrier Reef and are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Great Barrier Reef itself lies some 60 kilometres out to sea from the Whitsunday Islands and then continue a further 60 kilometres to the very edge of the continental shelf.
The Whitsundays offer the very best fringing reefs to snorkel and dive which is available on most sailing trips. Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef can only be accessed from a few selected boats as the majority of the fleet sail the islands only.
Boats depart from either Able Point Marina or from Shute Harbour.
How to get to the Whitsundays
Airlie Beach is the town you will have to go to in order to check in for your Whitsundays sailing trip.
Domestic air services fly into Proserpine airport or Hamilton Island airport. From Proserpine (called the Whitsunday Coast by Virgin Blue airlines) you must transfer to Airlie Beach and this can be arranged by yourself online with Whitsunday Transit book your transfer online and well in advance. It is best to allow an hour or more for the journey. Airlines flying into Proserpine are Virgin Blue and Jet Star. From Hamilton Island airport you must transfer with Blue Ferries to Shute Harbour then catch either the shuttle bus or a taxi to Airlie Beach, it is wise to allow over an hour for this. Cruise Whitsundays also operate a transfer service which arrives at Able Point Marina in Airlie Beach. Airlines flying into Hamilton Island are Qantas and Virgin Blue.
By Coach bus
There are two coachlines running buses on the East Coast. Greyhound has the most regular service with Premier Coaches running a daily service both will arrive in Airlie Beach and you are able to travel north or south daily to other East Coast destinations.
Queensland Railways operate rail services between Cairns and Brisbane stopping at all major towns and cities in between. Proserpine is the stop you must get off at to access the Whitsunday Islands. On arriving in Proserpine you must transfer to Airlie Beach with Whitsunday Transit and this must be booked by yourself online well in advance. It is best to allow an hour for the trip from Proserpine to Airlie Beach.
Distances by road (based on driving in your own car)
If travelling north or south in Queensland you must travel along the Bruce Highway all coastal destinations are accessed from this highway.
Oz Magic advises clients not to travel of a night time as it can be a dangerous trip. Hundreds of large semi trailers running frieght are on the highway of a night time and animals can also run in front of you of a night. Our advice is to drive during the day only when there are less trucks and less likelyhood of hitting a kangaroo or other wildlife.
What ever direction you are travelling by road you must turn off the Bruce Highway at Proserpine in order to get to Airlie Beach, the highway is well signposted.
Brisbane to Airlie Beach
1132 kilometres approx 13.5 hours driving time
Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach
886 kilometres approx 10.5 hours driving time
Rockhampton to Airlie Beach
489 kilometres approx 6 hours driving time
Mackay to Airlie Beach
153 kilometres approx 2 hours driving time
Cairns to Airlie Beach
737 kilometres approx 8.5 hours driving time
Townsville to Airlie Beach
290 kilometres approx 3 hours 45 minutes driving time
Bowen to Airlie Beach
92 kilometres approx 1 hour driving time
Proserpine to Airlie Beach
32 kilometres approx 30 minutes driving time
Tips for your boat departure
Whitsunday boats depart at different times of the day. In all cases reservations needs you to be at their office to check in at least 3 hours before departure however if you are arriving in Airlie Beach the day before it is best to check in then and not leave it until the last minute. For Whitsunday boats departing early in the morning you must check in the day before departure.
It is always wise to phone the office you have to check in at one or two days in advance just to talk to reservations about any questions you have or if you need directions on how to get to their office.
If you miss the boat you are travelling on there is no chance of you boarding the boat after it has left as the Whitsunday Islands does not currently have a water taxi service and because of the other passengers travelling on the boat it will not wait for late arrivals.
If you miss your boats departure you will also lose the full fare payable for the entire trip (this is so for any boat) so it is important that you take the responsibility to arrive and check in on time. Earlier.....is better and safer.
Many clients take a big risk by trying to arrive just before departure......a cancelled flight or a late bus arrival, a flat tyre or a major accident or roadworks on the highway are all factors you must take into consideration when planning to arrive in Airlie Beach in time to check in.
Choosing a Whitsundays Boat
In order to get the most out of your boat trip you should take the time to talk to us about your needs by email. It is also a wise idea to book well in advance to be able to get the boat that suits you.
If you are requiring a private double or twin cabin then it is the cruising boats you should look at. Maxi Racing yachts do not normally have private cabins and many do not offer a double bed. We do have at least half a dozen that do have double beds but they are not in a private cabin. Many Whitsunday boats are backpacker boats that do shorter budget trip some over 3 days however those boats depart late on the first day and return early afternoon or late morning on the third day. If you are a scuba diver or if you wanted to go out to the actual Great Barrier Reef then your choices are limited and you must talk to us so we can send you the links for boats that go to both the islands and the actual Great Barrier Reef.
For dedicated divers we also have a dedicated liveaboard dive trip that will take you to the Outer Great Barrier Reef with the focus on diving out there.
Sailing vessels that also travel out to the actual Great Barrier Reef are 3 day 3 night trips spending two days in the islands and 1 day out on the actual Great Barrier Reef (weather permitting) if the weather is not safe to go out those boats will spend the 3 days within the islands. We also offer a high speed 1 Day Great Barrier Reef trip.
Outside of 30 days - loss of deposit
Inside of 30 days full loss of fare.