The Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 islands located 55km off Queensland’s north-eastern coast. The region is sandwiched between Brisbane in southern Queensland (1,120km away) and Cairns in northern Queensland (630km away). It can be a deceivingly long journey to the Whitsundays so it’s important to allow plenty of time to get there.

The closest towns to the Whitsunday region are Airlie Beach (where the majority of tours begin), Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville. There are a number of travel options to suit different budgets and needs.

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 from various destinations in Australia. Whitsunday Coast Airport is 20km from Airlie Beach and takes about 30-40 min in a car or bus. From here, you can transfer to Airlie Beach via taxi (approx. cost is $100), airport shuttle bus (adult fee is $22 one way or $36 return) or private transfer. You can fly direct to Whitsunday Coast Airport from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. 

  • 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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