Is The Ocean Rafting Whitsundays Day Trip Worth It?
Are you wondering what the Ocean Rafting Whitsundays day trip is all about? We did too. If you’re unsure whether this cruise Whitsundays trip is worth it, we’re going to break down and let you know what it’s actually like to go to Whitehaven Beach With Ocean Rafting.
Finding the right Whitsundays cruise is vital for your holiday. If you’re going to be based in Airlie Beach during your holidays, and you’re looking for a day trip to Whitsundays, then we’re here to help you. Staying in Airlie Beach tends to be a cheaper option than staying on one of the Whitsunday Islands. Plus, there’s a load of things to do in Airlie Beach, you can read our ultimate guide.
It can be quite confusing to know which is the best Whitsundays tour to go on, so we’re going to show you what it was like when we did the Ocean Rafting Airlie Beach tour.
Table of Contents
Why We Went On A Ocean Rafting Tour
We actually only decided the day before to drive up to Airlie Beach during the Christmas holidays. Because we left it so late, Ocean Rafting Whitsundays was the only tour we could get on. Just so you know, this post isn’t sponsored, we paid for it ourselves and it cost us $180 each (including lunch). Ocean Rafting actually have no idea we’re writing this Whitsundays tour review.
We were actually really lucky because like all of the other tours, this one too was booked up. Someone had cancelled three minutes before I called them. I’m glad that happened as it just wouldn’t have felt right to travel to Airlie Beach and not go on a Whitehaven Beach tour.
What Is Ocean Rafting?
When I booked the Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tour, I didn’t really know what it was. I was kinda confused as it sounds like white water rafting, but around Whitsundays. When I saw the photos of it, it looked like a speedboat. It turns out Ocean Rafting is a speed boat.
I did wonder about the spins and driving fast, as that’s not my kinda thing to be honest. I’m not a huge fan of thinking I might fall off a boat with my camera in my hand, but I knew we would just have to go with it, because we had no other options.
If you’re wondering how fast that boat actually goes, it does go fast in sections, but not scary fast. At the very end of the trip on the way back into the harbour, we did do a few spins which was actually quite fun. So if you’re a bit of a wimp like me, I can assure you, there’s nothing to worry about. I just made sure I sat in the seats on the boat, rather than perched on the side.
Watch Our Airlie Beach & Whitsundays Video
What Does A Day Trip To Whitsundays Look Like?
We arrived at the Coral Sea Marina quite late as we drove up from Mackay early in the morning. We ended up parking a good five minutes walk from the meeting point next door to Sorento Restaurant and had to leg it to make sure we got on the boat in time.
Parking is actually really cheap and costs something like $8 for the whole day which is amazing, considering how many people go on Whitsunday tours. If you’re staying in town, Ocean Rafting will pick you up from your hotel and take you back after the tour.
The tour starts at 8am and drops you back to the harbour or to your hotel at around 4pm so you’ve got the entire day out to enjoy the Whitsundays.
When we checked in at the Ocean Rafting counter, we had to pay an extra fee to hire out stinger suits because we visited at Christmas time (it’s not very much). During November to May, you absolutely have to wear stinger suits in the water, unless you are swimming in an enclosed swimming net at a beach for example. The staff are super lovely and told us we’d have twenty minutes before we were leaving on the boat. So, we rushed over to the nearest cafe and picked up some food for breakfast.
Where To Grab A Quick Breakfast Before A Whitsundays Day Trip
If we had arrived earlier, we totally would have gone to Bohemian Raw Cafe for breakfast. But because we were running late, we popped into Kiosk Cafe next door to Ocean Rafting and picked up a sausage roll and a coffee before we were off on the boat.
What To Do For Lunch On A Whitsundays Day Trip
We also pre-paid for lunch on board as well. I knew we wouldn’t have time to get lunch beforehand so we paid an extra $16 each for a chicken and noodle salad. It wasn’t a great lunch option to be honest, but it did taste fresh and cold.
Because it’s so hot in Airlie Beach, I’m not too sure what lunch option we would have brought with us unless we had a small cool bag on hand. Be mindful that there’s not a lot of room to store your stuff on the boat, so don’t bring a big esky.
How Many People On The Boat?
There were two guys from Ocean Rafting hosting our trip and both were absolutely lovely. I think it’s really important to have a good tour guide because it can really make or brake a trip. I have no doubt all of the people working at Ocean Rafting would be really good, because everyone we met from the check-in staff to the tour guides were all super nice.
There were about 20 people on our tour but there were a couple more boats from Ocean Rafting heading out on a similar route to us. You don’t get a lot of room on the boat and because it’s going quite fast, you can’t really talk so much on the boat.
Climbing Up To Hill Inlet
Within about 30 minutes we had already made it right next to the famous Hill Inlet. This is one of the highlights about going on an Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tour is because it doesn’t take as long as other boats to get to Whitehaven Beach.
As it only took us about 30-40 minutes to get there, other boats can take around 2 hours. This means you’ll spend more time soaking up the incredible beauty of Whitehaven Beach.
When you get off the boat, bring water with you as you’ll spend about 10 minutes climbing up a gradual stair case to the top of Hill Inlet. This is the best view you’ll get of Whitehaven Beach, and it’s the most famous lookout point.
Another way to get an even better view of Whitehaven Beach is to do a combo Ocean Rafting and Scenic Flight. I do wish we had done this but our trip was so rushed with booking, that I hoped we would have got more sunny days. This was in fact the only sunny day of our entire 14 day road trip up to Cairns! Our readers had all told us to do a scenic flight because it is so incredible. Next time we will for sure!
When we made it up to Hill Inlet, there’s two lookout points and we were lucky to witness a beautiful proposal from our boat. Our tour guide actually helped the guy coordinate enough time to propose to his now fiance. It was a beautiful moment at one of the great lookouts in Australia!
Which Beach Is Whitehaven Beach?
I was quite confused about which beach is Whitehaven Beach when looking out to the inlet. It turns out the beach opposite us with the stretch of sand coming out into the water is Whitehaven Beach. Below the lookout is another beach which you’ve probably seen a lot of images of on the internet. This is North Whitehaven Beach which is where we walked down to next and spent a good 1h30m hanging out on.
North Whitehaven Beach
Known as the world’s best beach in 2017, Whitehaven Beach is Australia’s most famous beach (after Bondi Beach of course!). It’s undeniably stunning and both Steve and I announced how we felt like we could have been in the Maldives again. It’s a proper slice of paradise like no other, and somewhere everyone needs to witness at least once in their lives.
Although Whitehaven Beach was quite busy, our Ocean Rafting boat turned up and took us over to the next beach so we could have it to ourselves. Because the boat is quite small, Ocean Rafting are the only boats in Whitsundays which are allowed to drive up to Whitehaven Beach. If you’re on a sailing boat for example, you’ll need to walk back to where you were dropped off to go up to Hill Inlet on the other side of the island (it’s about a 5 minute walk or so) to get back onto your boat.
Make sure you bring sunscreen with you because Whitehaven Beach is 98% silica sand. It’s the finest sand in the world (apparently Fraser Island is second) which means the sun reflecting off the sand is more likely to burn your skin. I saw a lot of very sunburnt Australians walking around Airlie Beach during our time there, so make sure you cover up.
We went swimming in the crystal clear water with our stinger suits on but there were so many sting rays in the water, it was crazy! Just stay quite shallow and don’t go out far when you’re swimming in the water.
We had our lunch during this stop before we got back on board to go to our two snorkelling spots of the day.
Snorkelling in Whitsundays
We snorkelled near to Daydream Island and to be honest, we didn’t see much at all. When I asked one of the guides about snorkelling in Whitsundays, you need to go out to the outer reef because I think Cyclone Debbie had a lot do with the lack of fish and coral in the water now.
If you’re looking for the best snorkelling in Whitsundays, I would recommend spending two days on the magical Reef Sleep pontoon where you’ll snorkel around Hardy Reef which is in the outer reef and sleep under the stars in a swag tent. It is most certainly on our bucket list to do next time we’re in Airlie Beach!
And, if you’re looking to find the best snorkelling in Great Barrier Reef as a whole, I doubt you’ll find any better than in Lady Elliot Island in Southern Great Barrier Reef located off the coast from Bundaberg. It is mind blowing swimming in a lagoon with 30+ turtles! Plus it’s home to the worlds best manta ray diving experience. Heron Island located off the coast from Gladstone is also a good place to snorkel as there’s a ship wreck you can snorkel up to from the beach. I haven’t seen anywhere in Australia which compares to these two islands as of yet.
Summary Of Our Whitsundays Day Trip
Do to break it down for you, here are the pros and cons for booking an Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tour and the cons too.
If you’re short on time, this is a fantastic option to make the most of Whitsundays.
It’s a speedboat meaning you’ll spend more time on Whitehaven Beach rather than sailing to get there.
The Ocean Rafting staff are really nice and helpful and really got out of their way to provide excellent service.
It’s cheaper than most of the other Whitsundays tours.
You can add on a scenic flight with your booking (I 100% regret not doing this. Many people have told us, when you come to Whitsundays, you must do this). Find out more about a scenic flight here.
You don’t get the romantic sailing experience of chilling out on the deck on the way to Whitehaven Beach.
The speedboat is quite fast so you can’t sit back and chat on the boat.
Snorkelling isn’t great, but that’s the Whitsundays not the tour’s fault.
If you have longer, you might want to do a 2 or 3 day tour of Whitsundays instead.
Would We Go On The Tour Again?
I would definitely go on the Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tour again if we were short on time. It’s a great way to make the most of the Whitsundays and I’m glad we did the trip.
Last time I came to Whitsunday, I went on a sailing boat for 2 days and it rained the entire time. People were constantly sick and it wasn’t a great experience. This time round, I saw it in a whole different light.
Although it can be hard to choose the right day to go on a tour in regards to the weather, the weather apps appear to get the forecast quite wrong when you’re up in the tropics. It said it was going to rain but with a bit of sun on the day we went and it didn’t rain at all. Always check for how many mm of rain is predicted rather than the percentage of rainfall, but you probably already knew that!
We hope our Ocean Rafting review has helped you plan your Whitsundays day trip!