What? Are beautiful beaches, fantastic resorts, and awesome year-round weather not enough for you? Okay. Here are our top 10 reasons why you need a Whitsundays getaway.
1. Heart Reef
a.k.a. The one from every Whitsundays postcard you’ve ever seen. And it deserves its fame. Heart Reef is an all-natural coral formation that’s 17m in diameter and can only be viewed from above. It just celebrated the 40th anniversary of its discovery by an Air Whitsunday pilot, although you’ll swear it doesn’t look a day over 30. While you can’t land on Heart Reef, you can admire it with a scenic flight. This cute little natural wonder has inspired countless love declarations and wedding proposals, which is great if you want to give someone a hint ;).
Guys, it’s the Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest coral reef and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. What more can I say? Okay, how about the fact that the Whitsundays are in the heart of Reef country (uh, ocean), with heaps of easy options for day tours and activities. Check it out from above with a scenic seaplane, light aircraft, or helicopter flight, get up close and personal with snorkelling or scuba diving, or relax with a classic boat tour. However you do it, a day on the Reef is unforgettable.
3. Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet
Whitehaven Beach is often voted one of Australia’s best beaches, and when you see it for yourself you’ll understand why. Its sparkling turquoise water and 7km of white silica sand will take your breath away. Whether you snooze on the beach, go for a dip, or take a bushwalk through the lush coastal rainforest, Whitehaven is a serious must-do. PRO TIP: Check out Hill Inlet at the northern end of the beach – a stunning swirling fusion of colours created by the sand meeting these as the tide comes in. There’s a viewing platform from which you can see most of the swirl (a perfect photo op) – it’s included on many Whitehaven Beach tours.
4. Whale watching
The Whitsundays doesn’t have many official whale watching experiences, but you’ll often spot them while you’re on other tours (bonus!). Hop on a boat tour or take to the sky with a scenic flight.
The Whitsundays’ calm, safe waters are a sailor’s paradise, with the Great Barrier Reef providing natural protection (or a barrier – get it?) against ocean waves. If you’re a still greenhorn, charter a crewed yacht and chillax while your expert crew cruises you around the islands. If you’re pro, hire a bareboat and chat with a local sailing guru to create your dream itinerary. Or skip the serious stuff and just hire a kayak or jetski for a day of paddling and splashing around. Woohoo!
Don’t think “food” when you think “Whitsundays”? You’d better think again! The Whitsundays abounds in fresh local produce, from the North’s yummy fruit and veg, to the Coral Sea’s amazing seafood, to the hinterland’s awesome organic beefalo (a cross between American bison and traditional beef cattle. Yep, it’s a thing). Whether it’s a counter meal at a local pub, fish and chips on the beach, a seafood feast overlooking the Bowen Marina, or a degustation menu in a chic Airlie Beach restaurant, there’s no chance of going hungry.
7. Cedar Creek Falls
I probably shouldn’t tell you about this one, ‘cause it’s kind of a local secret. But you look trustworthy, so here we go. Cedar Creek Falls is a gorgeous natural waterfall and rockpool just off Saltwater Creek Road, halfway between Airlie Beach and Proserpine. It’s awesome for swimming, picnicking, bushwalking, and animal spotting – especially birds and butterflies. Keep an eye on the local weather forecast, ‘cause the waterfall is even more impressive after a decent downpour. Yep, even rain has its upside when you’re in the Whitsundays 🙂
45 min north of Airlie Beach, Bowen is the most charming little coastal town you’ve (probably) never heard of. It’s home to fantastic beaches (including Horseshoe Bay, which was rated 11th out of Australia’s top 101 beaches), some of which have fringing coral reefs just metres from shore – perfect for newbie snorkellers. But most importantly, Bowen is home to Bowen mangoes, an achievement the town celebrates with the 10m tall Big Mango at the Bowen Visitor Information Centre. Any town that gives us mangoes (and, by extension, mango daiquiris) is a winner in my book.
The Whitsundays has awesome walks for all ages and abilities, and they’re a great way to get up close and personal with the unique tropical landscape and wildlife. Check out Honeyeater Lookout in Kara Crescent, just behind Airlie Beach Main Street. The walk up is steep to start, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the mainland and islands. Or if you’re really keen, take two or three days to hike the Conway Circuit through the Conway National Park. Starting at Forestry Road and ending at Airlie Beach, it’s a little adventure!
10. Lake Proserpine
20km north-west of Proserpine, Lake Proserpine is famous for its impoundment barramundi, a style of fishing that’s becoming increasingly popular. You’ll have to be patient, as it can sometimes feel like the nibbles are few and far between, but the bragging rights when you catch a big one will make all the waiting worthwhile. And it’s only a matter of time until you do – Lake Proserpine has more barra over a metre in length than any other impoundment in Australia. And thanks to the Whitsundays’ mild winters and tropical climate, Lake Proserpine doesn’t need a close season, so you can fish all year round. Make sure you bring your crab pots too, ‘cause Lake Proserpine also has red claw and freshwater crayfish. Yum!BOOK YOUR NEXT TRIP TO THE WHITSUNDAYS!