The Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 tropical islands sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef. It boasts some of Australia’s most gorgeous beaches and top snorkelling and diving spots — as soon as you see the glistening waters you'll want to jump in for a dip.

Is it safe to swim in the Whitsundays?

The short answer is yes. That being said, there are some no-swimming zones. You should also listen to local advice and stay alert at all times. Some of the top things to be aware of when swimming in the Whitsundays include:

  • Stingers

  • Crocodiles

  • Sharks


Stinger season (October to May) is when higher water temperatures attract large numbers of harmful jellyfish, including Box and Irukandji. It’s recommended to wear a stinger suit (a lightweight suit made from nylon or spandex) to protect your skin when in the water. They also double up as sun protection.

Stinger suits add a layer of protection, but they're not 100% sting-proof. Always try to avoid swimming in waters with jellyfish where possible.


Saltwater crocodiles live in the waters surrounding the Whitsundays, mostly near the mainland. It’s rare to see them on the islands, but it's important to stay safe by observing warning signs, being croc-aware and following local advice on where to swim.


The Whitsunday waters are home to diverse shark species, many of which are harmless reef sharks. Over the years, there have been several shark attacks around Cid Harbour, which has deeper waters and larger numbers of fish. However, there are plenty of safe swimming spots, and as long as you follow shark safety tips (your local guides can educate you on this), you can have amazing underwater adventures in the Whitsundays.

Where can you swim in the Whitsundays?

On a Whitsundays tour, you’ll drop anchor at various bays where you can swim and snorkel. Popular spots include:

  • Whitehaven Beach

  • Chalkies Bay

  • South Molle Island

  • Cedar Creek Falls

  • Airlie Beach

1. Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is the place you see on all of the Whitsunday postcards and adverts. It’s a little slice of paradise with white silica sand, shallow shores and warm waters.

2. Chalkies Bay

Chalkies Bay on Hazelwood Island is less busy than Whitehaven Beach, even though it's only a stone’s throw (or maybe a little more) in the opposite direction. It has the same silica sands as Whitehaven Beach, with the added bonus of coral reefs close to the shoreline which is fantastic for snorkelling.

3. South Molle Island National Park

South Molle Island combines boasts coast and rainforest, which is home to diverse native wildlife including rainbow lorikeets, currawongs and endangered bush stone curlews.

4. Cedar Creek Falls

If you get bored of tropical beaches (unlikely), head to Cedar Creek Falls, a lush oasis with natural swimming holes and waterfalls. It’s sandwiched between Airlie Beach and Prosperine and is a great day trip.

5. Airlie Beach

The artificial Boathaven Beach has a stinger net, so you can still take a dip in stinger season. You can also swim in the lifeguard-patrolled Airlie Beach Lagoon, a popular spot among locals and tourists with barbeques, picnic areas, changing rooms and child-friendly areas.

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