The Whitsunday Islands are an archipelago at the south of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). A little outside the most commercial areas, a private luxury yacht charter is the ideal way to experience this National Park protected area. Remarkably untouched, this is the healthiest part of the GBR, and your private yacht will take you to the best dive and snorkel sites to see dugongs, turtles and beautiful fish. Sediment and quartz powder that washed across the world millions of years ago give the seas their unique aquamarine colour and the sands their incredible white, silky qualities. Mostly uninhabited, the islands are covered in rainforest with stunning wildlife and are one of the few places in the world to experience true seclusion. With a sprinkling of 5-star resorts, you can stroll from nature trails and deserted beaches into gorgeous villas, with delicious cocktails in hand.
Key Cruising Areas: The uninhabited archipelago offers many anchorages and idyllic beaches to sail around. On the fringe of the GBR, heading north there are endless options for diving, snorkelling and exploring the islands of the reef.
Don’t Miss: The most healthy part of the reef, diving at Whitsundays is a must. The Pinnacles is one of – if not the – best dive site in the Whitsundays. Acropora and porite corals form boulders and huge bommies, and the sea swirls with a myriad of colourful fish.
Best Spots for Wining and Dining: On the mainland, Pioneer Bay offers a number of high quality dining options. However, for a touch of island luxury, hop over to Hamilton Island, to visit the 5-star Qualia resort for some pampering and excellent dining. Work up an appetite with a hike through the lush bush, then treat yourself to the eight-course degustation menu at Long Pavilion.
Local Culture: The Whitsundays have been inhabited by the Ngaro people for 8,000 years. Hike the sea trail on Hook Island for beautiful views ending at the Ngaro Cultural Site and inlet. Here you will see intriguing cave art, and the inlet is still considered a sacred place.
Best Beach: Set in incredible lazuli waters and surrounded by coral reef, the powder-soft white sands of Whitehaven beach are world famous for all the right reasons. Stretching over 7km, even in peak season you can still find a spot all to yourself.
IYC recommends: For a truly memorable experience, take a private helicopter or seaplane flight for spectacular views of the reefs and coastline. From the air, the swirling shapes of the archipelago create incredible aesthetics, and some iconic landmarks – such as Heart Reef – can only be seen from the air.
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