Cruising Whitsundays Islands: Best Sailing Trips 2024

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

Looking for information on cruising the Whitsundays Islands? Here’s our complete guide to help you plan the most amazing island experience.

The Whitsundays Islands are nestled amidst the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. 

The Whitsundays are a breathtaking collection of 74 tropical islands just waiting to be discovered. Imagine turquoise waters, pristine beaches, lush greenery, and of course, the vibrant coral reefs teeming with life… yeah, that’s the Whitsundays for you!

But you know what’s even better? Sailing through these islands. 

There’s something about cruising around on a sunny day, the wind in your hair, the smell of the sea and the sound of waves gently lapping against the hull.

Whether you’re an experienced sailor or a newbie, sailing the Whitsundays is a dream come true.

In this blog post, I’m going to share our top picks for the best sailing experiences for the Whitsundays Islands and what to expect during your trip.

If you’re pressed for time, no worries as I’ve also listed out options for day trips and other fun tours to help you make the most out of your time in the Whitsundays.

Whitsundays Islands
The stunning Whitsundays Islands

Boats for Cruising the Whitsundays Comparison Table

Boat NamePriceGuestsShared CabinsPhotography StationExtended ItinerariesReviews
Hammer Maxi Yacht$$$
Eureka Catamaran$$$
Blizzard Maxi Yacht$$$
Broomstick Maxi Yacht$$$
Entice Catamaran$$$
On Ice Catamaran$$$
Summertime Sail Boat$$$

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Best Boats for Sailing the Whitsundays

1. Hammer Maxi Yacht

  • Maximum Guests: 18
  • Itinerary: 3 days/2 nights

Step aboard the Hammer, a racing maxi-yacht built for speed, adventure, and an unforgettable experience in the stunning Whitsundays. 

This is the perfect choice for those who are pressed for time but want to squeeze every drop of beauty from their trip. 

You’ll race at thrilling speeds towards iconic destinations like the pristine Whitehaven Beach, where you can sink your toes into the famous 98% silica sand, or dive into world-class snorkeling sites teeming with colorful coral and friendly marine life.

The evenings are for unwinding and connecting with your fellow explorers. Share stories under the star-studded sky, surrounded by the gentle whispers of the ocean. 

Accommodation on board is a mix of cozy single and double beds arranged in a communal, dorm-style layout that lends itself to the friendly atmosphere. This experience is perfect for adventurous singles, couples, and groups aged 18-45.

What’s Included:

Your journey comes packed with delicious meals throughout the day – from breakfast to dinner, including morning tea, lunch, afternoon snacks, and dessert. 

You’ll have access to tea, coffee, and filtered drinking tap water at all times. 

The itinerary also includes up to 5 hours at Whitehaven Beach, plenty of opportunities for photo ops, and up to 4 snorkel stops over fringing reefs teeming with tropical fish and turtles.

 All snorkel equipment and wetsuits are provided, so you’re all set for an aquatic adventure.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

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2. Eureka Catamaran 

  • Maximum Guests: 12
  • Itinerary: 3 days/2 nights

Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping experience aboard Eureka, a top-notch sailing yacht cruising the gorgeous Whitsundays Islands. 

At 18-meters long, Eureka is designed as an authentic Ocean Racer, boasting an eco-certified, sleek and streamlined finish that’ll have you sailing in style. 

With space for 12 passengers across 2 private double cabins and a spacious shared cabin, there’s plenty of room for everyone to relax and enjoy the journey.

But what truly sets Eureka apart is the wealth of experience brought to the table by its captain. With a whopping 30 years of sailing experience, you can trust you’re in capable hands.

The yacht is fully equipped to handle all weather conditions, featuring a large, sheltered aft deck and a comfortable, air-conditioned saloon area complete with a flat-screen TV, Netflix, and indoor dining space.

Snorkeling gear is provided, and skilled crew members lead excursions to some of the most vibrant fringing reefs in the area. Besides the famous Whitehaven Beach and the Hill Inlet Lookout, Eureka also takes guests off the beaten track, revealing hidden caves and lesser-known island lookout spots. 

This hands-on sailing experience is perfect for anyone above 8 years of age, though younger children may be considered upon pre-approval.

What’s Included:

The journey comes inclusive of VAT, National Park Fees, Full-Board Meal Plan which covers all meals and snacks, snorkel gear, a guided snorkeling experience, cabin towels, and WiFi internet.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

3. Blizzard Maxi Yacht

  • Maximum Guests: 10
  • Itinerary: 4 days/3 nights

Discover the enchanting Whitsundays with the Blizzard, a spacious and intelligently-designed yacht that sails through this paradise with grace and comfort. 

Whether you’re seeking a private double cabin with an en-suite bathroom, a private twin or double with shared bathrooms, or prefer the camaraderie of dorm-style bunk cabins, Blizzard has the perfect space for you.

Kickstart your 3-night sailing trip with a tour of the yacht and essential safety briefings. Then it’s time to relax on the open deck, mingle with your fellow adventurers, and enjoy a refreshing drink and a snack. 

Each day begins with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and a hearty breakfast at 7 am, setting the tone for a day filled with exploration and relaxation.

You’ll visit protected bays where you can dive into the clear waters and discover the diverse marine life, hike to beautiful viewpoints, lounge on pristine beaches, and simply enjoy the tranquility. 

As the day winds down, look forward to evenings under the stars, delicious buffet dinners featuring delights such as Honey Soy Lime Baked Tasmanian Salmon and Gnocchi Amatriciana, and quality time with your shipmates.

What’s Included:

Your journey includes VAT, Environment Tax, Fuel Surcharge, National Park Fees, Port Fees, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Land Excursions, Snorkel Gear, and Cabin Towels.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

4. Broomstick Maxi Yacht

  • Maximum Guests: 20
  • Itinerary: 3 days/2 nights

Step aboard the Broomstick maxi yacht and gear up for an exhilarating 2-night sailing adventure through the magnificent Whitsundays Islands. 

With an expansive 22-meter deck, the Broomstick offers plenty of room for you to soak up the sun, relax, or mingle with your fellow explorers as you journey across 100km of pristine waters.

Their carefully curated itinerary ensures you get the best of the Whitsundays, from spending an entire day luxuriating on the world-renowned Whitehaven Beach, to snorkeling the vibrant coral reefs of the northern Whitsundays.

This journey is tailored for those who have a little extra time to unwind and truly take in the beauty of these magical islands over three full days.

The boat has a mix of double and single beds in a communal, dorm-style setup, perfect for sharing stories with new friends at the end of a day filled with adventure. 

All meals and snacks are included, and expect to be treated to mouthwatering dishes such as burritos, roast chicken, and BBQ burgers after your day’s explorations. 

These trips are ideally suited for adventurous singles, couples, and groups aged 18-45.

What’s Included:

Included in your journey are VAT, National Park Fees, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Land Excursions, Snorkel Gear, and a Snorkeling Guide.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

5. Entice Catamaran

  • Maximum Guests: 10
  • Itinerary: 3 days /2 nights

Embark on an unforgettable journey around the Whitsundays with the Entice Catamaran, a state-of-the-art vessel designed to provide a personalized and comfortable experience.

With room for just 10 guests, the Entice ensures a smooth and serene sailing adventure across these beautiful islands.

Inside the Entice, you’ll find a spacious saloon upstairs and a selection of double cabins, both with and without en-suite bathrooms, downstairs.

Your 2-night journey kicks off in the afternoon, setting sail just in time to catch a breathtaking Whitsundays sunset. The relaxed itinerary includes visits to the best local spots, including the iconic Whitehaven Beach and the stunning Hill Inlet Lookout.

The Whitsundays is home to mesmerizing fringing coral reefs teeming with marine life, offering fantastic snorkeling opportunities. Your adventure doesn’t stop there, though.

With options for hiking, bushwalking, and even stand-up paddle boarding, there’s an activity for every taste. And of course, there’s ample time set aside for the all-important rest and relaxation, allowing you to take in the stunning scenery at your own pace.

The Entice Catamaran is an excellent choice for families, friends, couples, and solo travelers seeking a 2-day sailing adventure around the Whitsundays. 

What’s Included:

Your journey includes VAT, Environment Tax, Fuel Surcharge, National Park Fees, Port Fees, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Land Excursions, Snorkel Gear, Stand Up Paddleboard, and Cabin Towels.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

6. On Ice Catamaran

  • Maximum Guests: 10
  • Itinerary: 3 days / 2 nights

For an intimate and unforgettable tour of the Whitsundays, check out the On Ice Catamaran. With a maximum of 10 guests per 2-night tour, you’ll be treated to personal service, breath-taking views, and truly immersive snorkeling experiences.

On Ice’s relaxed sailing itinerary includes stops at the iconic Whitehaven Beach and the panoramic Hill Inlet Lookout. 

To ensure you make the most of the crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands, we provide snorkeling gear, stand-up paddleboards, and even Sea Scooters on board.

On Ice strikes the perfect balance between smooth sailing technology and comfortable cruising luxury, creating the ultimate catamaran adventure for our guests. Feel the refreshing sea breeze in your hair as you relax on the foredeck, or enjoy the spectacular views from the cushioned seats on the shaded deck. 

What’s Included:

Included in your trip are VAT, Fuel Surcharge, National Park Fees, Port Fees, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Land Excursions, Snorkel Gear, Stand Up Paddleboard, and Cabin Towels.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

7. Summertime Sail Boat

  • Maximum Guests: 17
  • Itinerary: 2 days/1 night

If you’re pressed on time and can only spare a night to see the Whitsunday Islands, check out this boat cruise with Summertime Sail Boat. At 16.7 meters (55 feet) long, this small yet perfectly formed cruise ship is designed to provide an exhilarating journey around Australia’s iconic islands.

The Summertime can comfortably accommodate up to 17 guests across its 5 air-conditioned cabins. If your ideal trip involves sailing, snorkeling, and sea kayaking around the Whitsunday islands, then you’ve found the perfect match. 

With all equipment included, you can relax and enjoy the ride as our expert crew takes care of everything.

Throughout the ship, full air conditioning ensures comfort regardless of the weather outside. Meanwhile, the spacious deck offers ample room for sunbathing, dining on meals freshly prepared by our crew, or enjoying our onboard hot tub—perfect for soaking up those jaw-dropping views.

Experience the Great Barrier Reef first-hand by snorkeling or sea kayaking over vibrant coral gardens, where a diverse range of tropical marine life awaits, from turtles and tropical fish to sea anemones and much more.

Included: VAT, National Park Fees, Drinking Water, Tea & Coffee, Full-Board Meal Plan (All meals), Snacks, Snorkel Gear, Snorkeling Guide, Cabin Towels.

Click the button below to learn more and check the prices and availability

Whitsundays Day Trips

If you don’t have a lot of time, you can also opt to do day trips to the closest islands. 

These trips typically depart from Airlie Beach and can include a variety of activities like sailing, snorkeling, and visiting Whitehaven Beach.

Some tours offer fast, high-powered boats for exhilarating rides, while others provide a more leisurely sail. 

While a day trip can offer a fantastic snapshot of the Whitsundays, the multi-day cruises allow you to discover more remote islands. 

Here are a few options if you’re only looking for a quick day trip:

  • Full Day Eco Cruise from Airlie Beach This boat tour will take you to the best snorkeling spots on the island plus a guided bush walk to the breathtaking Hill Inlet Lookout. The tour also includes a buffet lunch plus morning and afternoon snacks.
  • Whitsundays Full-Day Camira Sailing AdventureWant a day of relaxing and cruising? This full day tour includes a full day on the boat, food, plus unlimited beer and wine. Amazing value for money while getting to experience the best of the Whitsundays.
  • Scenic Flight Over Heart Reef– While this technically isn’t sailing, it is still one of the best ways to see Whitsundays. This 70 minute scenic flight will give you a bird’s eye view of the best attractions on the island.
  • Snorkeling Tour– This tour will take you to 2 beaches, 2 lookout points, and 1 snorkeling spot. It also includes a guided bushwalk, lunch and snacks.

For more tours, check out the link below:

Whitsundays Islands
Taking a scenic flight over the Whitesunday Islands allows you to see views like this!

How to Get to Whitsundays Islands

As mentioned, the Whitsundays Islands are located in Queensland, in the northeastern part of Australia. They are smack in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most spectacular natural treasures.

Getting to the Whitsundays isn’t complicated, and the journey is definitely worth it! If you’re coming from within Australia, you can catch a flight to the Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine or the Hamilton Island Airport. 

Major Australian airlines, such as Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar, operate regular flights from most capital cities to these airports.

From the Whitsunday Coast Airport, it’s a short 25-minute drive to Airlie Beach, which serves as the main launching point for most Whitsunday adventures. 

If you land at Hamilton Island, there are plenty of ferries, yachts, and cruises ready to whisk you off into the heart of the islands.

And for our international travelers, no worries! You can fly into Brisbane, Sydney, or Melbourne, and then grab a domestic flight to the Whitsundays.

Once you’re there, the best way to truly explore and appreciate the beauty of the Whitsunday Islands is by boat. 

Whitsundays is approximately 1,120km north of Brisbane and 630km south of Cairns. The mainland comprises four major townships, Airlie Beach, Bowen, Collinsville and Proserpine. 

Major bus operators such as Greyhound Australia and Premier, include The Whitsundays in their regular routes so check this if you are traveling domestically.

If you prefer to travel by train, Queensland Rail services links up Proserpine to all the major destinations from Cairns to Brisbane.

Boats on Whitsundays Islands
Boats on Whitsundays

There you have it! A complete guide to the Whitsundays Islands in Australia. Hopefully, this guide helps you choose the best boat trip for you!

Happy sailing.

For more liveaboard articles read these posts:

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Cruising Whitsunday Islands | Are you seeking information on cruising the Whitsunday Islands? Look no further! We have prepared a comprehensive guide to assist you in planning an unforgettable island experience. Discover all the essential details and tips to make the most of your time in this stunning destination. Get ready for an adventure like no other in the Whitsunday Islands! #WhitsundayIslands #CruisingWhitsundays #ExploreAustralia
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