The Whitsundays is an archipelago located 55 kilometres off northwest Queensland between Brisbane and Cairns. The closest towns are Airlie Beach (where most tours begin), Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville. The best way to get to the Whitsundays depends on your budget and where you're travelling from.

By air

The most efficient way to get to the Whitsundays is to fly to Proserpine Airport (PPP). There are daily flights between Proserpine and major cities in Australia including Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane and Melbourne.

The airport is 20 kilometres from Airlie Beach. You can get to the town via taxi (approx. cost is AUD $100), airport shuttle bus ($22 one way or $36 return), or arrange a private airport transfer when you book your tour. Below are the average flight times:

  • Sydney - 2.5 hours

  • Melbourne - 3 hours

  • Brisbane - 1.5 hours

  • Cairns - 1 hour

You can also fly into the Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island. From here, you can take a high-speed catamaran or ferry to Airlie Beach and a few other island resorts.

By rail

Queensland Rail operates the Spirit of Queensland which travels from Brisbane to Cairns five times per week. It stops at all major tourist destinations along the East Coast. You can jump off at Proserpine and take the RailBus Coach to Airlie Beach. The journey takes about 15 hours from Brisbane and 9.5 hours from Cairns. Sitting and sleeping berths are available and there are on-board dining facilities.

By bus

There is no public bus to Whitsundays, but private coach companies including Greyhound and Premier run southbound services from Cairns and northbound services from Brisbane. Direct, return and hop-on/off tickets are available.


You can drive to Airlie Beach via the Bruce Highway which connects the coastal towns and cities from Brisbane all the way up to Cairns in Far North Queensland. Once you arrive in Bowen or Proserpine, follow the signs to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands via Shute Harbour Road.

Click to return to the Whitsundays FAQs

Our Whitsunday tours

8 Days From 1958

Discover K'gari (formerly Fraser Island), the Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Mission...

18 Days From 4757

Travelling from Sydney to Cairns, soak up the best of Australia’s east coast beaches,...

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary