How to get to the Whitsundays
The best way to get to the Whitsundays is by air, catching a flight to Prosperine Airport (PPP).
The Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 islands located 55km off Queensland’s north-eastern coast. The islands are sandwiched between Brisbane in southern Queensland (1,120km away) and Cairns in northern Queensland (630km away). It can be a deceivingly long journey to travel to the Whitsundays so it’s important to allow plenty of time to get there. The closest towns are Airlie Beach (where the majority of tours begin), Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville. The best way to get to the Whitsundays depends on your budget and where you're coming from.
Getting to the Whitsundays by air
The most convenient way to get to the Whitsunday region is by flying to Whitsunday Coast Airport (PPP) on the mainland in Prosperine. There are daily commercial flights to and from various destinations in Australia including Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane and Melbourne. Whitsunday Coast Airport is 20km from Airlie Beach centre and you can transfer via taxi (approx. cost is $100), airport shuttle bus (an adult fee is $22 one way or $36 return) or private transfer. 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.
Getting to the Whitsundays by rail
Queensland Rail operates the Spirit of Queensland which travels from Brisbane to Cairns five times per week with stops at all major tourist destinations along the coast. It stops in Prosperine with a RailBus Coach transfer to Airlie Beach. The train journey to Prosperine takes about 15 hours from Brisbane and 9.5 hours from Cairns. Sitting and sleeping berths are available and there are dining facilities on board.
Getting to the Whitsundays by road
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 Prosperine, follow the signs to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands via Shute Harbour Road.
Getting to the Whitsundays 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.
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