16 Very Best Whitsunday Tours To Choose From In 2024

When deciding on the best Whitsunday tours to choose from, it can feel a little overwhelming because there are so many to pick between! We’ve been lucky to experience quite a few of them now, which is why we’re sharing this Whitsundays guide with you.

With so many amazing tours to consider, read about the best Whitsundays tours from Airlie Beach, tours from Hamilton Island and overnight sailing adventures around the Whitsunday islands and Great Barrier Reef.

What makes Whitsundays special


What makes Whitsundays special is the unbelievable blue water, home to the softest sand in the world and the pure beauty and jaw dropping views of the islands. It is unlike anywhere else in the country and really is a special place everyone should visit.

After Cyclone Debbie hit Whitsundays a few years back, it ruined a lot of the reef and the underwater life too. Even if you go out to the outer reef called Hardy Reef, it’s not that great. I would absolutely recommend seeing the reef from a seaplane instead.

But, Whitsundays is a great place to learn to dive or for those who haven’t snorkelled before because you’ll be doing both in relatively shallow water.

If you love diving or snorkelling and wondering where is the best place to do it in the Great Barrier Reef, I 100% recommend going to Lady Elliot Island, Lady Musgrave Island or Heron Island, all located in the Southern Great barrier Reef off the coast of Bundaberg and Gladstone. All are absolutely amazing with Lady Elliot Island being home to the best snorkelling and diving I have ever done.

You can read our guide for the Southern Great Barrier Reef Islands if you’re keen to learn more.

Watch Our Airlie Beach & Whitsundays Video

Best overnight sailing adventures and tours

The best way to see the Whitsunday islands is to jump on an overnight sailing adventure or tour. This is going to be the best way to really appreciate the jaw-dropping surroundings of the area. While Airlie Beach is a great little town, it’s a bit more special to experience it all from a boat instead.

1. Reefsleep and Reefsuites 1 night experience on the outer reef pontoon


We have finally ticked off the incredible Reefsleep adventure which is a 1 night // 2 day tour out to the outer reef, called Hardy Reef with Cruise Whitsundays. This bucket list experience will see you share a pontoon with up to 30 people as you spend the night looking up at the stars from a luxury swag tent. If you stay in the Reefsuites, you’ll be staying in the first underwater hotel room in Australia. Read about our experience on the Reefsleep before you book.

If you’d prefer to do a day trip to Reefworld and snorkel or scuba dive in the outer reef, book a Day Trip here.

2. Book a 2 night sailing tour on a super fast yacht


This amazingly huge racing yacht takes up to 26 guests on a 2 day and 2 night tour to the famous Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, snorkelling at Luncheon Bay, Caves Cove, Blue Pearl Bay, plus other amazing locations. As it’s one of the fastest yachts in Australia, this is the perfect tour for the adventurous travellers! Expect all meals included while you relax on the deck and take in the views.

Looking For An Over Night Party Boat?
If you’re looking for a backpacker party boat in Whitsundays, check out the infamous Atlantic Clipper. You’ll find a slide, jacuzzi and BYO alcohol so you can have the party of a lifetime!

3. Jump aboard a luxury sailing yacht for 2 days


This is what Whitsundays is all about! Imagine yourself sailing on a luxury yacht, kicking back while sailing around the 72 islands in the Whitsundays including Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout! If I was to pick a sailing tour, it would be this one. I have always envied everyone on these big sailing boat tours.

4. Combine sailing and camping on this unique 2 day trip


Cruise around Whitsunday island on this beautiful yacht while ticking off the best snorkelling spots including Hook Island, Hayman Island and Whitsunday Island, before pitching up a swag tent on the beach for the night. This is a unique experience unlike others and would be really memorable.

5. Spend 3 nights exploring hidden gems on a sailing boat


If you’re looking for sailing trips that will take you to some amazing hidden gems, this 3 day sailing trip is for you. What I noticed on some of the day trips to Whitehaven Beach is that it never feels like enough time to take it all in. On this trip, you’ll have up to 5 hours on Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.

You’ll also go to Chalkies Beach, a hidden gem I have heard from many people who work in travel and from locals that this is an amazing beach, and where Pirates of the Carribean was filmed. It’s located opposite Whitehaven Beach. I think this tour would be super special to go on.

6. Camp On Whitehaven Beach


Do you love the idea of Whitehaven Beach camping? Privately owned company SCAMPER can help you organise your own camping trip to various spots and hidden gems around Whitsunday Islands. They can provide you with any camping gear you require, and take you to the camp site you choose.

This is a cheap and fantastic opportunity to not only visit Whitehaven Beach but camp on it too! Next time, I would definitely go on a Whitsunday camping trip for sure as I think you would see it so differently. Plus, imagine waking up at sunrise at Whitehaven Beach?

7. Stay at Palm Bay Resort on Long Island


OK, so it’s not a sailing trip, but I 100% recommend that you book a couple of nights at Palm Bay Resort on Long Island. We stayed here for five days and absolutely loved it, and wrote a whole article dedicated to Why We Love Palm Bay Resort! It really reminded us of our backpacking days in Thailand, but for grown ups! Basically what I’m trying to say is, it’s like a luxury backpacker experience, but without backpackers.

The adults only resort features cabins all lining the beach with your own hammock to chill out in. There’s a swimming pool to lounge around in drinking cocktails, before you all move to the sunset bar for sunset cocktails. We hung out with the other guests and loved it all. Check out our Instagram Reel about our stay here and you’ll soon see why we loved it!

Best Whitsunday day trips from Airlie Beach

Don’t worry about missing out if you’re not doing an overnight sailing adventure. There are plenty of popular day trips from Airlie Beach that you need to put on your bucket list.

8. Book a scenic flight over Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef


You absolutely must book this seaplane flight over Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef! There are some flights you can book that just go over one or the other, but make sure you do this one that goes over both places. Seeing the beautiful Whitsunday islands from above really is the biggest highlight about coming here. We’ve done a similar flight up in Cairns and this one in Whitsunday islands is better, purely because you get to see the amazing Whitehaven Beach and the famous Heart Reef scenic flight from above.

Just to note – you’ll be taken out near to Proserpine Airport for the flight, so you could time it like we did and do this either when you land or before you go home. We timed it just before our departure and they’ll drop you off at the airport so you’ll save on the shuttle cost!

9. Book a Whitehaven Beach day trip with Ocean Rafting


Knowing which are the best Whitsundays one day tours and trips can feel like a lucky dip. We managed to get on the ever so popular Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tour, purely because someone had cancelled a few minutes before us.

We met a woman next to us on our flight to Airlie Beach who worked on all of the tours and when I asked her which is her favourite, she said the Ocean Rafting boat tour.

Check out our Ocean Rafting review where I share all of the pros and cons of booking this trip! The main thing to know is that this is the only tour that is actually allowed into Whitehaven Beach which is pretty cool!

You can also book a combined Ocean Rafting Tour with A Scenic Flight as well. We totally would have done this if it wasn’t booked out.

10. Or book the Red Cat Adventures Whitehaven Beach day trip


We have also been on the Red Cat Adventures Whitehaven beach trip which is also fun. While the tour is pretty similar to Ocean Rafting one, the snorkelling was much better on this one (and actually better here than in the outer reef as well!).

11. Experience a day trip to Whitehaven Beach on a sailing boat


If you don’t have time to do a multi-day sailing trip, you might like to sit back and enjoy a day trip adventure to Whitehaven Beach on an epic pirate sailing boat. While it will ultimately take longer to get there than it would on the Ocean Rafting or Red Cat Adventure boat tours, this experience is all about sailing and taking in the views. I must say, this is the boat I’m always envious of seeing when w’ere in Whitsundays.

12. Whitsundays Sunset Cruise


Explore the beautiful coastline of Airlie Beach with a 2 hour sunset cruise on a beautiful sailing boat, which includes snacks and bubbles. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot turtles on this cruise, and plan it on a Wednesday and you’ll see the locals take part in the weekly boat race.

13. Airlie Beach Skydive


No trip is complete to Australia or up the East Coast of Australia if you haven’t experienced an Airlie Beach skydive! I can’t think of a better place to tick off your skydive bucket list because the views over the Whitsundays would be absolutely incredible! It’s no wonder this is one of the best things to do in Airlie Beach!

14. Jet Ski Tour Around Whitsundays


Prefer to do things a little off the beaten track in Whitsundays? A two hour jet ski tour in Whitsundays is an action packed adventure, taking you to two of the most exclusive islands, including Daydream Island and South Molle Islands. This is a fantastic tour to consider if you’d prefer to have the freedom to go on your own jet ski to explore the islands.

Day trips from Hamilton Island

15. From Hamilton Island: Whitehaven And Chalkies Sail & Snorkel Tour


There’s one major place on my bucket list I really want to see in Whitsundays, it’s a Chalkies Beach tour. As mentioned above in the 3 day sailing tour, Chalkies beach is renowned for being a locals hidden gem where you can snorkel onto the reef straight off the beach.

The beach is opposite Whitehaven Beach and although filmed in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it’s supposed to have decent snorkelling and is a stunning beach. I’ll update this once I’ve been there, hopefully sometime soon!

16. Sunset BBQ and dinner cruise from Hamilton Island


Staying on Hamilton Island and interested in doing some more tours? Why not jump on this BBQ Dinner Cruise from Hamilton Island? The BBQ buffet dinner is a fantastic opportunity to really bask in the natural beauty out of the Whitsunday islands while you enjoy every single moment of being there.

More Whitsunday travel guides to read


If you’re looking for more Whitsundays inspiration, check out our popular travel guides below!

Where To Stay In Airlie Beach


Looking for the best Airlie Beach accommodation? Look no further.

  1. Luxury: Coral Sea Marina Resort – we stayed here and it’s fantastic (pictured). The outdoor pool is an amazing spot to kick back at sunset on the day bed with a cocktail in hand.
  2. Luxury: Mirage Whitsundays – five minute drive from Airlie Beach with outdoor pool and beautiful palm trees.
  3. Mid range: Whitsunday Terraces Resort – jaw-dropping views overlooking the Whitsundays and Airlie Beach.
  4. Backpacker: Magnums – legendary and long standing backpacker resort for party goers.

Best Whitsundays tours

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