The Whitsundays are your one-stop-shop for fun in the sun
Welcome to the Whitsundays, an archipelago of 74 tropical islands off the coast of Queensland. As a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays tick all the boxes for a sun-kissed adventure. Jump aboard a sailing boat to explore remote islands where lush rainforests give way to crystalline waters. Slip on a snorkel and flippers to explore colourful coral gardens and get close to inquisitive sea critters. Or marvel at the beauty of the world-famous Whitehaven Beach — with 98% pure silica sand, this is about as white as a beach can get.
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Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises). However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
The Whitsundays can be accessed via one of the coastal towns on the mainland, with the most popular jumping off point being Airlie Beach. There are two main airports in the Whitsundays: Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island, and Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine which is the closest airport to Airlie Beach.
If you fly into Whitsunday Coast Airport, you'll need to drive or take a transfer to Airlie Beach. This is easy to arrange with buses meeting all incoming flights. The transfer from Whitsunday Coast Airport to Airlie Beach takes around 25 minutes.
Passenger ferries operate a regular daily service between the mainland and the major Whitsunday islands. You can also do a sailing day tour to explore the archipelago's many highlights.
Any time of year is a good time to visit the Whitsundays. As a tropical destination, the archipelago experiences hot, rainy summers and warm, dry winters. Average high temperatures linger between 23°C and 31°C, while lows average a mild 17°C to 25°C. The water temperature averages a pleasant 23°C to 28°C throughout the year.
If you want to go snorkelling or diving, you may be better off planning your trip in the winter (dry) season. Rainfall in the summer tends to come in the form of brief tropical downpours, but it can impact water visibility. Whales can also be spotted in winter from May to October during their annual migration from Antarctica.
If you visit between October and May, AKA stinger season, take extra caution when swimming in the ocean by wearing a stinger suit to protect yourself from possible jellyfish stings.
The Whitsundays tend to be a casual place so you can leave your fancy clothes at home. As a top destination for water-based adventures, swimwear is a must. The same goes for sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat (even in winter) as the sun reflects off the water and white sand. Bring all the essentials, including basic medications, as shops are few and far between on the islands.
There's no need to get dressed up, even if you're staying at one of the resorts in the Whitsundays. Casual clothes or active wear are fine during the day. Smart casual (think jeans and a t-shirt) is the norm for restaurants at the resorts.
You'll find wi-fi in bars, cafes and restaurants in major tourist hubs like Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Daydream Island. There's limited or no wi-fi available in some parts of the Whitsundays, particularly when you're sailing or exploring more remote islands.
You'll pick up mobile phone signal in and around major tourist hubs such as Airlie Beach, but there's limited or no mobile phone coverage in some parts of the Whitsundays, particularly when you're out at sea or on more remote islands.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. The abundance of sand in some parts of the Whitsundays such as Whitehaven Beach can make walking difficult for travellers who are less mobile on foot. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.