Imagine the paradise of your dreams:
A beautiful warm day; the whitest sand stretching for miles in front of you; crystal clear blue water softly lapping at the shore – nobody around to disturb you at all.
Luckily, for us this is not a dream.
This is what you get when you visit Whitehaven beach in the Whitsundays.
Whitehaven is truly the world’s most memorable beach. It is Australia’s #1 beach, and after one visit here, the reasoning for why speaks for itself.
When I planned my visit to the Whitsundays earlier this year, I knew Whitehaven was the one place I had to visit. You cannot possibly come to this region and miss it. Whether you have many hours to spare, or just want a half day experience; visiting Whitehaven is a must!
How To Get To Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven is not a beach that you can just drive to. It really is an isolated place, sitting on Whitsunday Island (which is a national park). Small tour groups will visit at any one time and there are always a few private boats or sea planes around as well. But no matter how many people are around you, you will still feel like you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway because it is never busy – and that’s what makes this a true paradise. Whitehaven really is your own personal wonderland.
There are many tour companies that you can use to get you to Whitehaven beach. I did my research before I went and knowing I only had a handful of days to see everything, I decided that the Whitsunday Islands & Whitehaven Half Day tour with Cruise Whitsundays was exactly what I needed.
They do offer full day tours for this area, including Hill Inlet; as well as snorkeling and other activities. However, being short on time, and wanting to relax as well – the half day suited me just fine!
I took the morning tour which departs the Port Of Airlie at 7am. Port of Airlie is located right next to the main area of Airlie Beach making it a short walk to get there, however coach transfers are available for $10, or you can of course just take a taxi. If you walk like I did, the port is best accessible from the right side of the marina, where the apartments and restaurants sit. If you keep walking past them, you will walk through to the Cruise Whitsundays terminal.
You do need to check in and receive your boarding passes for the ferries you board throughout the day; and also wear a wristband determining which tour you are on.
Different tours run on the one boat, which is what appealed most to me about Cruise Whitsundays. I like being able to get from A to B and not be forced to interact with just the people on my tours because we are all traveling together (though I am not against making friends either!). Cruise Whitsundays allows you the freedom to feel like you’re on your own, but part of a tour as well. It’s a perfect way to island hop around here really.
The boat that we boarded was called Orca. It was a 2 leveled boat, with the lower level being an interior area with plenty of seating, complimentary coffee and tea, as well as other snacks and drinks available for purchase. Best of all it was air conditioned. Toilets are also on board down here.
The exterior seating was on the upper level, although there was a small area of seats inside where the Captain sits as well. I chose the outside option as I like the wind in my hair and seeing everything around me un-obstructed by windows. I also tend to get sea-sick so being out in the air always makes me feel better. The conditions were favourable today though; so there was no choppy water thankfully (and no sea-sickness for me!)
We did encounter a slight delay in departing, but staff really did get us back on track as quickly as possible. However, due to not having any pick-ups at Daydream Island, the Captain took us straight to Hamilton Island – where more passengers would join us and we made up any time that was lost. The delay really wasn’t an issue at all.
The boat ride out was truly amazing. To see the day start with water all around you and the many islands scattered throughout really made it feel like you were in another world. Being a Friday, it was the best way to start the weekend for sure. Our guide did make mention of different areas that we were passing through, and a history of the area which was nice and ensured we knew where we were amongst all the different islands.
We arrived at Hamilton Island’s port at around 8:30am and by 9am we had arrived at Whitehaven Beach. The day was humid and warm; but being out in the morning was far more preferable than the afternoon, where the temperature is a lot hotter.
Relaxing On Whitehaven Beach
The boat docks right on the beach, and passengers depart the boat by walking down a ramp and straight out onto the sand.
As it is stinger season in February, we were all given the option to wear stinger suits against the jellyfish that could be around. It was a thin wet suit type of outfit, that covered you head to toe, but your feet and hands were not enclosed. They were comfortable, and whilst we did use them initially, the water was clear enough to see anything so we did take them off in the end when we wanted to take photos, and had no issues. But always be on the lookout in any case whether you wear it or don’t.
Families did tend to stick together near where the boat docked; and they were given tents to sit under which was a nice addition as well. I made friends with a French girl who was also on the tour alone and we walked a few minutes down the beach and set up a spot in the shrub that lines Whitehaven to have some shade.
Doing this ensured we had complete silence and also felt like we were out there on our own. It was really lovely just to have our own stretch of the beach.
Swimming In Whitehaven Beach
Swimming in Whitehaven was absolutely amazing. I have been lucky enough to swim in the Greek Islands, Hawaii and some of Australia’s best beaches – Whitehaven truly was the most visually beautiful of them all. I think the fact that the waves are so tiny makes it more relaxing here, unlike the surf beaches I am used to. The water moves softly around you and the entire experience is just easy. You float and are at peace with life. Here’s an Instagram video of doing just that!
It just doesn’t get any better than this!
There were fish swimming along the shore, which we could see. But, nothing beat looking out across the water and seeing all of the different colours shimmering under the sun. Right in front it was crystal clear water, but as the water went out further in front of you, it changed into a turquoise and then blue. It was truly stunning, and the photos truly do not do it any justice.
We swam at Whitehaven for about 2 hours, which was long enough to get a feel for the beach; but no length of time will ever be long enough I guess. But those 2 hours were just magnificent!
At 11am the boat returned, and we were picked back up and on our way at 11:25am.
We had our feet hosed to eliminate the sand being brought back onto the boat. The sand really does stick to you and your belongings though, so it is good that they do this.
We left Whitehaven and enjoyed one last view of the beach from the water which was really nice. A complimentary muffin was provided to us once we got going, and it was actually really nice and exactly what we needed after a couple of hours on the beach.
We arrived at Daydream Island an hour later and were able to explore the resort for 30 minutes whilst waiting for our next ferry back to Airlie Beach. This was actually really good because it gave a nice glimpse of the island, even just for a short amount of time.
We boarded at 1:05pm and 30 minutes later we were back at the Port of Airlie and able to enjoy the rest of our day, after what was an amazing morning!
When anyone comes to the Whitsundays they dream of days like this. For me the weather was perfect, and so was the experience. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
I would not hesitate to do this again next time I am in the Whitsundays.
What a great tour option this really is!
The Whitsunday Island & Whitehaven Beach Half Day Tour was provided by Cruise Whitsundays for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and based solely on my experience on this tour.