21 Best Whitsunday Tours In 2021 (The Ultimate Guide)
If you’re a bit unsure about which Whitsunday tours or Whitsunday islands to choose from, let us break it down, so you know what your options are. It can be really confusing to know which tours are going to be the best Whitsunday tours for you, but there is literally something for everyone! Expect Whitsunday day trips, half day trips, camping trips, kayaking trips, sailing adventures and so much more!
We wish we had read an article like this when we recently went on a cruise Whitsundays ourselves, which is why we’re creating this guide for you!
In this Whitsunday Islands tour guide, you’ll learn about the following tours to do:
How to see the Whitsunday islands without doing a tour
Whitsunday day trips including snorkelling & Whitehaven Beach tours
Best Whitsunday scenic tours
Best over night sailing Whitsundays tours and resort stays
Whitsunday camping trips
Whitsunday overnight kayaking trips
So, let’s get started so you can make the most out of your Whitsundays holidays!
There are some affiliate links in this post, at which if you decide to book a tour mentioned, I may earn a tiny percentage of this booking. It won’t cost you anything extra to book from this article.
Table of Contents
When To Visit Whitsundays
We visited Whitsundays just after Christmas and although it was really hot, we had a great time. The only problem with going then is that you’ll have to wear stinger suits. All tours will either provide this for you or you’ll have to pay around $20 extra to the tour company to hire one. You cannot go in the water without a stinger suit in Whitsundays between October to May.
Because of stinger season and the heat, it’s no wonder Airlie Beach is a popular winter destination, especially for anyone looking to escape the colder months in Victoria or New South Wales.
Why Is The Whitsundays Popular?
Whitsundays are really popular destination thanks to being home to Whitehaven Beach. This regularly makes the top list as one of the best beaches in the world and is always named the best beach in Australia.
Having travelled up and down the East Coast of Australia, it goes without saying Whitsundays are an absolutely gem of a place to visit in Australia. The water is unbelievably turqouise and I sure haven’t seen anywhere else in Australia look like this.
Although Sydneysiders have Jervis Bay nearby to visit, there really is something absolutely magical about Whitsundays and I cannot express how much everyone needs to visit here once in their lifetime.
We’re going to start this article by revealing that in actual fact, you don’t even need to do a tour. Did you know there’s a ferry you can jump on to explore the Whitsunday islands?
Instead of going on a tour, you can by an Island Hopper Pass and travel between Airlie Beach, Daydream Island and Hamilton at your own time. With this pass, you’ll be able to use the resort areas and swimming pools on both Hamilton Island and Daydream Island.
Knowing which are the best Whitsundays day trips can feel like a lucky dip. But we’ll break each one down so you know what to expect. We managed to get on the ever so popular Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tour, purely because someone had cancelled a few minutes before us.
Whilst, I wanted to go on a sailing boat, this is a fantastic tour if you don’t have a lot of time. Because you’re essentially on a speed boat, you’ll spend much more time enjoying Whitehaven Beach and more snorkelling time!
All day trip from 8am – 3:30pm with transfers to and from your hotel.
It’s cheaper than other tours because you can bring your own lunch or pay an extra $16 pp provided on board.
It’s a jet boat so you essentially spend more time at Whitehaven Beach & snorkelling time than you would do on a sailing boat.
Ocean Rafting tours are the only boats actually allowed on Whitehaven Beach. If you choose another tour, you have to walk around to the beach from the other side.
There’s no rafting involved, they simply do a few fast corners and spins at the very end of the boat ride. Even the wimp within me enjoyed it!
3. Best Whitsundays Snorkelling Trip To Outer Reef
Spend the day exploring the Great Barrier outer-reef with Cruise Whitsundays. When we did our day trip to Whitsundays, we asked the crew where is the best snorkelling in Whitsundays? They said it is in the outer-reef. In this tour, you’ll spend 4 hours on Hardy Reef which is absolutely spectacular.
You can choose between snorkelling or diving on this tour which will take you to Reef World permanent pontoon. You’ll find a bar on board as well as seating areas in the shade and a deck to top up your tan. Included in this Whitsundays tour is a buffet lunch.
Snorkel in the best part of Whitsundays
Option to add on scuba diving
Spend 4 hours on Hardy Reef maximising your time underwater
4. Classic Sailing Trip To Whitehaven Beach Plus Snorkelling
If you’re looking for the ultimate Whitsundays day trip, you have to go on a traditional 62 ft schooner to Whitehaven Beach. You can either sit back and relax on this romantic sailing boat or get involved and help pulling up the sails. As one of the best Whitsunday tours to choose from, you’ll sail to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet as well as have time to embrace the Whitsundays snorkelling.
Full day trip perfect for a romantic day trip for couples, families and friends.
Sit back or help put up the sails as you enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Morning tea (including brownies!), lunch and afternoon tea is included.
bar on board to buy alcoholic drinks.
You’ll have to pay extra for wet suites.
You won’t have as much time at Hill Inlet or Whitehaven Beach as some of the other tours as it will take longer to get there.
We would have personally gone on this tour if it wasn’t booked out because the beauty of Whitsundays is something you want to take in. This boat would have really made a day trip to Whitsundays so memorable for us personally.
If you’re looking for the ultimate romantic Whitsundays tour, check out an adults only day trip on a beautiful yacht. In this beautiful trip run by Sundowner Cruises, you’ll be able to sail to Whitehaven Beach in style with other like minded couples on board. This luxury yacht called Lady Enid is one of the only luxury day trips to Whitsundays which promises to deliver a luxury barefoot experience like no other.
You’ll be given beautiful meals throughout the trip including sparkling wine and beers to enjoy throughout the day. Hike up to Hill Inlet and spend time on Whitehaven Beach as well as time for snorkelling too.
The perfect Whitsundays day trip for couples
Luxury Whitsundays tour on a beautiful yacht
Delicious food included! Expect, scones & tea for morning tea, lunch and antipasto cheese platter and wine for afternoon tea.
Technically a sunset cruise is included, enjoy sunset antipasto cheese platter on the way back.
You don’t have to snorkel if you don’t want to.
No children allowed
More expensive than other Whitsunday tours, but it’s worth it for a barefoot luxury trip.
6. Choose An All Inclusive Catamaran Sailing Day Trip
If the sound of an all inclusive catamaran sailing trip to Whitsundays sounds like your idea of fun, then you can’t go wrong with this tour by Cruise Whitsundays. Whilst sailing on one of the world’s fastest commercial catamarans, you’ll visit Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.
This is more of a party boat which includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and alcoholic drinks. You’ll spend the day playing beach games on Australia’s best beach, rather than go snorkelling. Expect music on the boat as you kick back and take in a memorable day with your friends or partner.
Party boat with music and fun all day.
All inclusive including morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and alcoholic drinks.
Spend the whole day sailing and on Whitehaven Beach.
Combine a trip to Whitehaven Beach with one of the most exclusive and iconic islands in Whitsundays, Daydream Island.
On this cruise, you’ll have two hours to relax on Whitehaven Beach. Trust me, you’ll want to spend the entire day there because it really is that beautiful. You’ll then cruise on over to the stunning and exclusive Daydream Island and have a two lunch lunch there. Plus, you’ll be able to use the pool and relax on this gorgeous boat trip.
8. From Hamilton Island: Whitehaven And Chalkies Sail & Snorkel Tour
If your idea of exploring the Whitsundays is sailing on a catamaran, this tour with Explore Group Australia might be perfect for you. As one of the best Whitsunday tours, you’ll be able to sit back and take in the breathtaking views of the remarkable Whitsundays. You’ll have time to explore the famous Whitehaven Beach as well as snorkel around Chalkies Beach and hopefully find turtles along the way. The only downside is that you can only do this tour from Hamilton Island.
Enjoy a full day trip taking in the beautiful Whitsundays scenery
The tour includes wetsuits
Includes morning tea and afternoon tea and a build your own wraps for lunch
Toilets and showers on board
This trip is only accessible from Hamilton Island.
You won’t visit any of the famous islands such as Daydream island on this trip.
If the weather isn’t great, you won’t have a lot of shelter.
I noticed from Shute Harbour, you can actually hire your own yacht with no sailing experience required from there. It would be amazing sailing around the hidden beaches in the national park. Shut Harbour is much closer to the Whitsundays, meaning it will only take you an hour to sail to a resort or secluded beach, rather than 2-3 hours from Airlie Beach.
Even if you don’t have any sailing experience, you can motor the boat yourself and head off on your own Whitsundays adventure. Or if you prefer, you can hire someone to sail the boat for you. You can choose between a yacht, catamaran or a motor cruise.
This would be the perfect opportunity if you have a big group or you’re looking for a knock out activity for a special occasion. You’ll be looking at paying at least $2,500 to rent a boat a day, plus you can add on extras like SUP or kayaks. How amazing would it be though?
If you’re up for a bit more adventure in Whitsundays, why not go on a one night tour which includes kayaking to some of the lesser known and harder to reach hidden gems! Your guide will take you on an adventure to spot turtles and rays in the water. You’ll also kick back on the beautiful boat which comes complete with a jacuzzi, and air con.
Meet like-minded people on a kayaking and sailing adventure
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!
11. Spend 2 Nights On A Sailing Boat
If you have the time, we recommend a 2 night adventure around The Whitsundays. This is the best experience to make the most of your trip!
Go on a 2 night adventure with Wings Whitsunday Adventures where you’ll spend Day 1 sailing to either Hook or Border Island for a day of snorkelling before anchoring up near to South Whitehaven Beach for the night. After dinner you’ll be able to sit back on the deck, and look out for shooting stars. What an experience!
On Day 2 expect to explore Whitehaven Beach before the day trippers arrive, before you’re off to explore more islands like Langford Island.
On Day 3 you’ll spend more time in the water, feed fish at Blue Pearl Bay and head back to Airlie Beach.
12. Bucket List Must! The Reef Sleep & Reef Suites
An absolutely amazing experience we all need to put on our bucket lists (it’s on ours!) is to experience the Reef Sleep or Reef Suites in Whitsundays. Both options are based on the same permanently moored pontoon on the incredible Hardy Reef.
In this two day adventure, you’ll sail for three hours through the Whitsundays to pontoon where you’ll be based over night. Hardy Reef is one of the most spectacular parts of the Great Barrier Reef and the snorkelling and diving is out of this world. Luckily you’ll be able to spend the day snorkelling around this insane ecosystem full of fish and coral which is opposite the pontoon.
Expect to eat the whole time on this trip with morning tea, a buffet lunch, afternoon tea, sundowner drinks to enjoy a truely special sunset on the reef, and followed by dinner.
If you opt for the Reef Sleep, you’ll sleep literally under the stars in a swag tent, right on the deck of the boat. Un zip your tent and sleep under the stars. It would be an experience you’ll never forget!
Alternatively, you can sleep under the water in the Reef Suites, Australia’s first hotel underwater room with a view looking out to the water and underwater marine life.
In the morning, you’ll wake up to breakfast, followed by more snorkelling or diving (diving isn’t included in the package, so you’ll need to pay extra). You’ll return back to Airlie Beach at around 6pm after an absolutely magical experience.
Both sleeping options look incredible and we can’t wait to experience this bucket list item as soon as possible!
Spend two nights at the exclusive and beautiful Paradise Cove resort in Whitsundays. In this 2 night package, you’ll stay in a rainforest retreat room to rejuvenate and enjoy the very best of Whitsundays. With all meals, activities and a full day cruise included, it’s actually pretty good value for money.
Find out more about staying at Paradise Cove on Experience Oz here.
14. Kayak The Whitsundays
Local company, Salty Sea Dog are offering up Whitsundays kayaking tours. There’s a few options to choose from like a half day tour, right up to a 6 day expedition which would be absolutely amazing! You’ll truely get to experience hidden gems in Whitsundays whilst camping in more remote places. It’s definitely on our list and a fantastic way to support local tourism operators. I have to say, this easily makes it on our best Whitsunday tours list!
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 camp on Whitehaven Beach! I remember camping on Koh Phi Phi (where they filmed The Beach) in Thailand and it is still to this date one of the best things I’ve ever done! 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?
SCAMPER have also teamed up with Salty Sea Dog so you could hire some kayaks as well.
If there’s one thing I have always wanted to do on my Aussie bucket list, it’s to fly over the Whitsundays and the famous Heart Reef! Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t on my side during our trip!
We have flown over the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns years ago and it was the highlight of the entire trip! It’s absolutely remarkable to see the reef from above, and I highly recommend it. A lot of our followers told us to do the Whitsunday scenic flight but it rained most of the time we were there. It is without a doubt one of the best Whitsunday tours you must do if you can!
On this Whitsundays scenic flight, you’ll fly over the heart reef, but you’ll also fly over the famous Hook Island, Hardy Reef, Hayman Island and of course Whitehaven Beach
In this awesome 2.5 hours helicopter flight over the Whitsunday Islands, you’ll get arial views of Hamilton Island, the famous Hill Inlet and of course Whitehaven Beach. You’ll also land on Whitehaven Beach where you’ll have a whole 1h30m to chill out on the beach and enjoy the pristine water and sand.
From my research, I have read a helicopter flight is better than a seaplane scenic flight because:
You won’t have the wings blocking your view
Less people in the aircraft
You fly closer to the reef so you can spot more marine life in the water
Just imagine the Insta worthy photos you’ll get with your feet in the helicopter overlooking Whitehaven Beach!
A helicopter flight is actually not that much more expensive than a scenic flight!
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!
Choose a morning or an afternoon Whitsundays 6 hour tour and find more of the lesser known bays and remote areas as well as the southern end of Whitehaven Beach. Depending on your schedule, you can either depart early in the morning or enjoy a late afternoon cruise where you’ll be able sail back during sunset.
6 hour half day tour means it’s cheaper than other tours
Explore more hidden gems in Whitsundays
Spend up to 2 hours at the Southern end of Whitehaven Beach
Morning or afternoon tea is provided
Choose the afternoon tour and sail back during sunset
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.
Explore the beautiful coastline of Airlie Beach with a 2 hour sunset cruise on a catamaran, 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.