The Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 islands located 55 kilometres off the coast of northwest Queensland. Most Whitsunday tours begin in Airlie Beach, but you can also depart from Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville.
The best way to get to the Whitsundays depends on your budget and where you're travelling from.
The most efficient way to get to the Whitsundays is to fly to Proserpine Airport (PPP). There are daily flights to Proserpine from several major cities in Australia, including Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane, Melbourne and Gold Coast.
Proserpine Airport is about 30 kilometres from Airlie Beach. You can take a local shuttle to the township ($22 one-way or $36 return), or book a ride-share or taxi.
Below are the typical flight duration times to Proserpine:
- Sydney - 2.5 hours
- Melbourne - 3 hours
- Brisbane - 1.5 hours
- Cairns - 1 hour
You could also fly into the Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne with Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar. You can then take a ferry or high-speed catamaran to Airlie Beach. This option may be better if you plan on using Hamilton Island as your base to explore the Whitsunday region.
There's no public bus to the Whitsundays, but you can take a coach with Greyhound or Premier. They run southbound services along the East Coast from Cairns and northbound services from Brisbane. Direct, return and hop-on/off tickets are available.
Queensland Rail operates the Spirit of Queensland service from Brisbane to Cairns five times per week. It stops at all major towns and cities 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.
You can drive to Airlie Beach via the Bruce Highway which connects the towns and cities between Brisbane and Cairns. Once you arrive in Bowen or Proserpine, follow the signs to Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands via Shute Harbour Road.
Join a Whitsundays tour
Don't fancy the drive up the East Coast? Or would you rather have an expert local leader handle the logistics? Join us on a small group adventure to discover the Whitsundays, the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, and more.