It's hard to beat the romance of sailing through the Whitsundays - 74 idyllic, mostly uninhabited islands tucked inside the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Think clear moonlit nights, spectacular sunsets, secluded beaches and pure air. You can sail, swim, snorkel and dive at sheltered anchorages such as Blue Pearl, Butterfly and Hook Island Bays. Soak up the resort atmosphere of Hamilton Island, bushwalk through national park on South Molle and relax in Hayman Island's five star luxury. Visit Whitsunday Island and walk the pure white, silica sands of Whitehaven Beach.
Abel Point Marina - Hook Island - Stonehaven - Butterfly Bay - Hook Island Bays - Chance Bay - Hamilton Island - Cid Harbour - Heart Reef - South Molle Island - Abel Point Marina
Abel Point Marina to Hook Island
It’s a short, leisurely sail across the Whitsunday passage to a calm anchorage in the fiord-like Nara Inlet. Hop off and explore the Aboriginal cave site with paintings at the northern end of the inlet. Then head back to the boat for a sunset champagne and a dinner of freshly-caught fish to celebrate the first night of your sailing adventure.
Nara Inlet to Stonehaven Anchorage
Leave Nara Inlet by mid-morning and pick up a public mooring inside the reef protection markers at Langford Reef, near Langford Island. Snorkel with spectacular fish and coral in the clear, warm waters. Then head to calm and scenic Stonehaven Anchorage for views of Hayman, Bird, Langford and Black Islands. Watch the sun sink over the mainland and Whitsunday passage and the Hayman Island Resort light up.
Stonehaven Anchorage to Butterfly Bay
Head off to Blue Pearl Bay on the north-western corner of Hayman Island. For the best tides, arrive by mid-morning and snorkel the clear, warm waters around to Castle Rock in the southern bay. This is one of the best diving spots. As an anchorage it offers protection from south-easterlies but other winds can create swell overnight. Head to Butterfly Bay for a public mooring and squeeze in some snorkeling if you have time before the tide turns around 5pm. The moorings south of Alcyonaria Point offer the best protection, particularly from swell in north-east winds.
Butterfly Bay to Hook Island Bays OR Cateran Bay
Explore Maureens Cove, Luncheon Bay and Mantaray Bay across the top of Hook Island. Then return to Butterfly Bay to pick up another protected mooring for the night. If the wind changes from east to south-west, sail to Border Island and spend the night at Cateran Bay. This outlying island offers delightful anchorages but has swell in an east wind. The snorkelling is best when winds are from the south.
Butterfly Bay to Chance Bay
Set sail for the Whitsunday’s most photographed six kilometres of white silica sand - Whitehaven Beach. Soak up its tranquil beauty with a walk, swim and picnic lunch. Then head around the corner for an evening mooring at Chance Bay - two smaller bays each with sand beaches and good snorkelling. Before you bed down, book a marina berth or mooring for the following night in Hamilton Harbour.
Chance Bay to Hamilton Island
Pass through Fitzalan Passage and sail to the north of Hamilton Island, where you can get your land legs, have a hot shower and stock up on supplies. Pay your mooring fee and then head in for the Hamilton Island experience, including a restaurant meal, poolside cocktails and dancing in one of the lively bars.
Hamilton Harbour to Cid Harbour
After a leisurely breakfast, sail an hour and a half to Sawmill Beach in Cid Harbour. Hidden between Cid Island and the western side of Whitsunday Island, this is one of the Whitsunday’s few all-weather anchorages with many moorings in its protected bays and beaches.
Cid Harbour to the outer Great Barrier Reef OR Dugong Beach
Head out to Heart Reef on a pre-booked sea plane, which takes you from your anchorage to a remote and protected lagoon for snorkeling and coral viewing. If you would rather stay on land, follow the track from Sawmill Beach to Dugong Beach and try climbing Whitsunday Peak.
Cid Harbour to South Molle Island
Head north through the Whitsunday Passage and anchor in Bauer Bay, near South Molle Island. Take in spectacular views of the Whitsunday Passage and Molle Channel on one of the many graded bushwalks through South Molle National Park. Celebrate your last island night at South Molle resort, with a seafood buffet and dazzling sequin-covered entertainment.
South Molle Island to Abel Point Marina
Return to Abel Point Marina for a debriefing. Radio the charter operator when you pass Pioneer Point and you’ll be met by a member of the charter company. The boat may have docked, but your romantic memories will keep you afloat for a long time to come.
More Vacation ideas
See what else there is near here to inspire your vacation planning.
Its easy to explore the Great Barrier Reef from the Whitsunday Islands.
Enjoy the peaceful relaxation of Hayman Island, one of the 74 Whitsunday Islands.
Drive the Pacific Coast Touring Route from Brisbane to Cairns.
Find attractions in the Whitsundays