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AUSTRALIA

Holidays to Hamilton and the Whitsundays

Things to do

The Whitsundays? No worries.

Plan a holiday to Hamilton Island and the Whitsunday's, and you’ll have the Great Barrier Reef on your doorstep. And, since there’s sunshine year round, you can go any time.    

The Whitsunday Islands sit just off the coast of central Queensland, and Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island in the archipelago. It’s also the ‘busiest’ – but with only 1,000 permanent residents and a scattering of luxury resorts in the north, overcrowding certainly isn’t an issue. Hamilton’s atmosphere is easy going and beach-focused, despite the island often being called Australia’s most ‘desirable destination’ and certainly has its fair share of celebrity devotees. 

But nothing here outshines the main attraction. The Great Barrier Reef is made up of almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. It’s the world’s largest coral reef covering an immense 344,400 square kilometres. Despite its size, it’s very accessible and not just to divers – although it does have phenomenal dive sites. If scuba isn’t your thing, why not try snorkelling? Or explore the islands on a catamaran or a glass-bottomed boat. Alternatively, hop in a sea plane for a completely different perspective.

While you’ll probably spend a lot of your Whitsundays holiday in the water, the sandy beaches are also worth exploring. Sail to the pearly sands of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island itself – the biggest of all the isles – and you’ll immediately see why it’s known as Earth’s most beautiful beach. The sands are impossibly white, while the clear waters are home to gentle rays. Plus, the island’s interior is filled with rich forests and wildlife. Chalkie’s Beach on Haslewood Island is another one worth the boat ride. Or you could just stroll to palm-trimmed Catseye Beach – the prettiest of all on Hamilton Island. 

Another big part of any trip to the Whitsundays is the sunset. Bommie Deck at Hamilton Island Yacht Club is a great spot to watch the sun sink below the horizon. Or, when you want something less formal, pack a picnic and watch the sun go down from One Tree Hill – it’s a much loved Hamilton Island tradition. 

Things to do

Beaches

Days out

Best time to go

Things to do in the Whitsunday Islands

The weather’s great and you’re surrounded by natural wonders so, as you might expect, a lot of the top things to do in the Whitsundays are outdoors.

Snorkelling and diving are, naturally, popular activities. You can book a snorkelling trip around Hook Island on the Great Barrier Reef to eye up ghostly Manta Ray, and sail to Daydream Island and meet marine biologists at the Living Reef. Or catch a seaplane and fly over Heart Reef, then on to Whitehaven Beach. Dive sites like Paradise Lagoon are very doable from Hamilton, too. And if you want to sit back and still see spectacular coral and dazzling fish, why not take a catamaran cruise?

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Meanwhile, just five minutes by ferry from Hamilton, Dent Island’s a go-to for golf. And non-golfers can try morning yoga, kayaking or hiking the hills. Don’t miss a swim in tropical Bougainvillea Pool behind Catseye Beach. Or stay on the beach itself and try watersports like jet-skiing and parasailing, or go swimming with turtles.  

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Beaches in the Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Island is the largest island in the archipelago. This national park is uninhabited, gorgeously green and ringed by sensational beaches. Sail from Hamilton and make straight for Whitehaven Beach where the dazzling sand is 98 per cent silica. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and almost as much of a Whitsunday holiday must-do as the Great Barrier Reef itself. Should you want nothing but perfect peace, follow the walking trail from Whitehaven to pretty Chance Bay or go west to spot dugongs and turtles on the aptly named Dugong Beach. 

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On Hamilton Island, the beach everyone wants to be on is long and sandy Catseye, curving round the bay in the heart of the island. And Escape Beach to the south might demand you walk a little, but it’s worth the effort for panoramic views of the reef and huge sunsets – best seen from nearby South East Head. 

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Days out in the Whitsunday Islands

Stay at Whitsunday Apartments and stroll to Hamilton Island Wildlife to have breakfast with koalas. Go bushwalking in the east of the island on well marked trails, the views are stunning. Or hire a golf buggy, pack a picnic and go island exploring. Then take it up a notch and book an all-day ATV guided tour. 

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The Whitsundays archipelago has 74 islands and you’ll see quite a few on a full-day catamaran cruise. If you want to stay overnight on the reef and watch the water come to life after dark, try a Reefsleep. Swimming with turtles at Turtle Discovery on Catseye Beach is another unforgettable experience. Or consider a seaplane flight over the reef – you’ll land on water and then set sail in a glass-bottomed boat to see coral and marine life close-up. Or book a flight which drops you gently onto the reef in full snorkel gear, if you dare.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go to the Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays are tropical islands, so you can pick any season and expect good holiday weather. Summer is the hottest and wettest season. From January to March, the average temperature is 29°C. Humidity is high and the rain can be heavy but, nevertheless, it’s the most popular time of year for family holidays, so the islands tend to be busy. Spring is another popular time, as it’s the Christmas season and temperatures float around 28°C.   

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Alternatively, autumn is a great time to explore the reef and go island-hopping. Between April and June, most days average 24°C and you can look forward to sun, clear skies, minimal rain and low humidity.

Winter is also an excellent time to go on holiday to the Whitsundays. It’s dry and sunny from July to September, with highs of 22°C and trade winds. This is the best time of year for whale watching, and it’s warm enough for swimming and snorkelling. Keen sailors should bear in mind that winter is sailing season, and Hamilton Island Race Week occurs in August.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in the Whitsunday Islands

The weather’s great and you’re surrounded by natural wonders so, as you might expect, a lot of the top things to do in the Whitsundays are outdoors.

Snorkelling and diving are, naturally, popular activities. You can book a snorkelling trip around Hook Island on the Great Barrier Reef to eye up ghostly Manta Ray, and sail to Daydream Island and meet marine biologists at the Living Reef. Or catch a seaplane and fly over Heart Reef, then on to Whitehaven Beach. Dive sites like Paradise Lagoon are very doable from Hamilton, too. And if you want to sit back and still see spectacular coral and dazzling fish, why not take a catamaran cruise?

Show More
Show Less

Meanwhile, just five minutes by ferry from Hamilton, Dent Island’s a go-to for golf. And non-golfers can try morning yoga, kayaking or hiking the hills. Don’t miss a swim in tropical Bougainvillea Pool behind Catseye Beach. Or stay on the beach itself and try watersports like jet-skiing and parasailing, or go swimming with turtles.  

Show More
Show Less

Beaches

Beaches in the Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Island is the largest island in the archipelago. This national park is uninhabited, gorgeously green and ringed by sensational beaches. Sail from Hamilton and make straight for Whitehaven Beach where the dazzling sand is 98 per cent silica. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful beaches and almost as much of a Whitsunday holiday must-do as the Great Barrier Reef itself. Should you want nothing but perfect peace, follow the walking trail from Whitehaven to pretty Chance Bay or go west to spot dugongs and turtles on the aptly named Dugong Beach. 

Show More
Show Less

On Hamilton Island, the beach everyone wants to be on is long and sandy Catseye, curving round the bay in the heart of the island. And Escape Beach to the south might demand you walk a little, but it’s worth the effort for panoramic views of the reef and huge sunsets – best seen from nearby South East Head. 

Show More
Show Less

Days out

Days out in the Whitsunday Islands

Stay at Whitsunday Apartments and stroll to Hamilton Island Wildlife to have breakfast with koalas. Go bushwalking in the east of the island on well marked trails, the views are stunning. Or hire a golf buggy, pack a picnic and go island exploring. Then take it up a notch and book an all-day ATV guided tour. 

Show More
Show Less

The Whitsundays archipelago has 74 islands and you’ll see quite a few on a full-day catamaran cruise. If you want to stay overnight on the reef and watch the water come to life after dark, try a Reefsleep. Swimming with turtles at Turtle Discovery on Catseye Beach is another unforgettable experience. Or consider a seaplane flight over the reef – you’ll land on water and then set sail in a glass-bottomed boat to see coral and marine life close-up. Or book a flight which drops you gently onto the reef in full snorkel gear, if you dare.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to go to the Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays are tropical islands, so you can pick any season and expect good holiday weather. Summer is the hottest and wettest season. From January to March, the average temperature is 29°C. Humidity is high and the rain can be heavy but, nevertheless, it’s the most popular time of year for family holidays, so the islands tend to be busy. Spring is another popular time, as it’s the Christmas season and temperatures float around 28°C.   

Show More
Show Less

Alternatively, autumn is a great time to explore the reef and go island-hopping. Between April and June, most days average 24°C and you can look forward to sun, clear skies, minimal rain and low humidity.

Winter is also an excellent time to go on holiday to the Whitsundays. It’s dry and sunny from July to September, with highs of 22°C and trade winds. This is the best time of year for whale watching, and it’s warm enough for swimming and snorkelling. Keen sailors should bear in mind that winter is sailing season, and Hamilton Island Race Week occurs in August.

Show More
Show Less

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