What Our Whitsundays Day Trip With Thunder Cat In Airlie Beach Looked Like
Are you looking to do a Whitsundays day trip which includes Hill Inlet Lookout and a snorkel tour, but wondering if the Thunder Cat in Airlie Beach tour is worth it? I’m going to break it down for you so you’ll know what to expect as we recently did it ourselves.
You’ll learn about whether this Whitsundays tour is worth it other tours in the area, what time of year there are stingers at Airlie Beach and if there are any box jelly fish at Whitehaven Beach to be concerned about. I’m going to share all the details for what to expect, what to bring with you and whether I would do this tour again.
If you’re looking for more Whitsunday tours, read til the end to see our top picks!
Why should you do the Thunder Cat in Airlie Beach tour to Whitsunday Islands?
The exhilarating ride on the Thunder Cat tour run by Red Cat Adventures, leaves from Coral Sea Marina North in Airlie Beach at 9am where you’ll spend the whole day visiting Hill Inlet Lookout for the exceptional views overlooking the world famous Whitehaven Beach. You’ll also be taken to two snorkelling spots before heading back to Airlie Beach at 5pm, led by professional and friendly crew.
The beauty about this tour is because you’ll be taken in a high speed catamaran, you’ll have more time to enjoy the surroundings of the incredible Whitehaven Beach and Whitsunday islands secret spots, because it won’t take as long to get there as it would on a sailing boat trip. Red Cat Adventures are accredited climate action leaders providing a fabulous day tour for people visiting The Whitsunday islands on their eco tour boats.
There is a curtesy bus that will pick you up from your accommodation in Airlie Beach. As we were staying around the corner at the wonderful Coral Sea Marina Resort, we walked over to the reception. If you do so too, I would definitely recommend you arrive early to Coral Sea Marina North because the boat actually leaves at 9am.
This means you’ll need to check in, and you may have to try on a stinger suit before arriving if you’re visiting between October to May. The box jelly fish are dangerous and it’s important you abide by the safety procedures to wear one while swimming and snorkelling.
You’ll also need to pick up the same snorkelling gear and equipment, but bare in mind they only supply a mask, not fins. You’ll be fine without fins, but it’s worth noting. If you’re not a strong swimmer, they supply pool noodles and life jackets as well. The main thing to note is the crew really do look after everyone whehn snorkelling on this tour.
Don’t have time for breakfast before the tour?
If you’re running late or didn’t have time to have breakfast at your accommodation, there is a cafe next to Thunder Cat, so you can pop in and grab a ham and cheese croissant if needed. The last time we did the Ocean Rafting tour from here, we had to do the same so we’ve been to the cafe a couple of times now.
What the Thunder Cat boat ride looks like
After leaving at 9am, it then took us an hour to get to Whitsunday Island to see the famous Hill Inlet Lookout on a fun exhilarating ride. What I love about this boat ride is it’s big enough to have space and the roof and windows protect you from getting splashed or being in the sun (unless you sit at the very front of the boat!).
The hour long journey can be bumpy at times depending on the weather, but it’s an enjoyable trip as you’ll pass by many islands like Daydream island and Hayman Island. Not long after we started the boat trip, we were given homemade, gluten free brownies for morning tea which our guide told us would be the best we’ve ever tried! We was pretty much spot on!
Arriving at Hill Inlet Lookout
When we pulled up behind the famous Whitehaven Beach lookout, we were told we had two hours to spend on the Whitsunday Island.
It took us 10 minutes to climb up to the top to Hill Inlet Lookout but make sure you bring plenty of water, a hat and sunscreen because this island is so hot. I’m guessing it must be because of the 98% silica sand that bounces the suns rays off it.
When you reach the top of Hill Inlet Lookout, you’ll probably realise you haven’t ever seen a more impressive view in Australia.
The most incredible range full of turquoise colours mixing in the sand is really a sight to be seen.
When you reach the top, the tour guide will give you some facts about the area like how you’ll be fined if you take any sand from here and how Nasa was the only company ever allowed to take some for research purposes.
We stayed up at Hill Inlet Lookout for a while and it was so interesting to hear the other tour guides talk about the area too and how they all mentioned how Whitehaven Beach has the softest sand in the world, while neighbouring beaches weren’t as soft.
You won’t actually go to Whitehaven Beach
When you’re up at Hill Inlet Lookout, you won’t actually go to Whitehaven Beach because it’s actually opposite the lookout. But you will actually walk down to Whitehaven Bay and Bettys Beach which is equally as amazing.
Here you’ll be able to swim in the shallow water with the stingrays and enjoy the incredible beach that it is. We wish we had longer than two hours here because we could have spent the whole day there.
Just to note – we didn’t have to wear stinger suits at this beach when we visited, we only had to wear them when we went snorkelling.
Take an insta worthy photo at the famous tree
At Whitehaven Bay, there’s a famous bleached tree you can take photos at. There might be a few people around but it’s a stunning opportunity to get a photo at an incredible spot that almost doesn’t look real.
Getting back on the boat for lunch
We then had to head back to the other side of the beach where the boat dropped us off to get back on it again which took us about 10 minutes. When we got back on, we were given a buffet lunch which was a make your own sandwich, noodles, and a potato salad. Although the lunch menu was simple, it was really good.
If you want any soft drinks or water, you’ll need to bring cash with you to pay for them. You can bring your own alcohol if you want to.
Finishing the day with two snorkelling spots
After lunch we were then taken to two snorkelling spots, one with good coral and the other for fish. The coral spot had quite a strong current but it was OK because the tour guide took everyone out on a dingy to the spot to see the underwater life. I didn’t last long in the water but Steve went in and said the coral was amazing!
The second spot was really beautiful and opposite a beach. Here we jumped in and saw loads of tropical fish and marine life, that it was better than the snorkelling we did in the outer reef of the Great Barrier Reef at Hardy Reef on the Reefsleep! There were some massive fish here which actually startled me because I’ve not seen some that big before when snorkelling!
Heading back to Airlie Beach
We then headed back to Airlie Beach while the sun was starting to set, and given some fresh fruit kebabs to end the trip for afternoon tea. We both said to each other what a great day we had. If you’re looking for a Whitsundays day tour from Airlie Beach, then I would highly recommend booking the Thundercat tour!
When you get back to the Coral Sea Marina North, you’ll be taken back to your accommodation. Otherwise I would stay at the marina and go for a drink or dinner at Sorrento, a well known and highly recommended Italian restaurant for a sunset dinner.
Backpacker: Magnums – legendary and long standing backpacker resort for party goers.
Other Whitsunday tours you should consider
While you’re in Airlie Beach, here’s some of our favourite Whitsunday tours you should also do.
1 hour scenic flight over the stunning Whitehaven Beach, and Heart Reef – this tour is absolutely amazing and should 100% be on your list to do when visiting Airlie Beach! I would either time it when you land or are leaving Airlie Beach as it takes off near Proserpine Airport and they can either pick you up from there airport or drop you off there.
Reefsleep – an amazing experience sleeping in a luxury and comfortable swag tent on the outer reef in the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a bucket list experience you really should do. Read our Reefsleep review before you go.
Jet ski tour – jump on this 2 hour tour to Daydream Island and South Molle Island, while visiting lesser known beaches and islands for an adventure like no other!
Palm Bay Resort – this isn’t a tour but I highly recommend staying at the adults only Palm Bay Resort in Long Island. This hidden and affordable gem will make you feel like you’re in Thailand. It’s one of our ultimate favourite places in Australia.
More Airlie Beach and Whitsundays travel guides
If you’re looking for more things to do in Airlie Beach and Whitsundays, check out our popular travel guides