Live like royalty in the Whitsundays
By Rachel Pinder
Queensland's Whitsunday Coast
is a great place to relax and unwind and feel like a Queen (or King) with its jaw dropping scenery and stunning beaches.
It's a fantastic choice at any time of the year, and just perfect when you are looking for somewhere to escape from winter.
Whether you feel like taking to the water on a cruise or a boat charter, a relaxing resort package or a land-lubber's beach or rainforest holiday – it's all possible at this idyllic destination.
With 74 islands, clear azure water, stunning white sand beaches, boutique shopping, the complete range of eating and accommodation options and a year round average temperature of 27 degrees, you'll be feeling like royalty the minute you step off the plane.
1. Airlie Beach - best of both worlds
Colourful, cosmopolitan Airlie Beach
is the gateway to the Whitsundays.
Perched on the peninsula that juts out into Whitsunday Passage, Airlie Beach is the perfect base for enjoying both islands and mainland activities.
While Airlie Beach may have that laid-back village ambience, the dining opportunities are equal to anywhere and party goers will find night-long entertainment at the clubs and bars.
Just a few minutes drive away, Shute Harbour is the departure point for ferries and cruises to the islands and Great Barrier Reef, while Airlie Lagoon, set in landscaped parklands, provides stinger free swimming with lifeguards and a children's pool.
2. Set sail
Sailing is synonymous with Whitsunday
Island holidays. Whether it’s a secluded romantic getaway or a party afloat, there's a boating option for everyone. No experience necessary – just pack your swimming gear, snorkel and sense of adventure.
Explore remote islands, visit resorts, snorkel on fringing reefs and laze on secluded beaches. For the more experienced there’s performance boats available and year-round trade winds to test your skills. If sails sound like too much hard work, then why not take a crewed charter or a motor cruiser. Whatever your choice, there’s a floating apartment and an ocean of beautiful anchorages just waiting to be enjoyed.
3. Take a walk on the wild side
The Whitsundays are not just about beaches, islands, coral and fish – if bushwalking is your thing then pack your boots and backpack and head for the Conway National Park
This 22,500 hectare park protects the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest south of Cairns. Its 35km of coastline provide spectacular views over the Whitsunday Passage and islands.
There are many walking trails, ranging from easy 1km strolls to more challenging 16km hikes. Information about the park and its features and trails is available from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service based in Airlie Beach.
4. Whitsunday diving holidays
With water temperatures between 20 and 28 degrees year round and underwater visibility of 30 – 40 metres, the Whitsundays is paradise for scuba divers.
There are dive trips suitable for the newly certified and vacation divers through to the advanced and adventurous. And if you've never dived before, this is the perfect place to learn with an internationally recognised PADI dive certification course.
Take a guided dive and snorkelling day trip on one of the many experienced diving vessels based at Airlie Beach, or your resort island.
The best way to get dollar value is on a live-aboard diving cruise. Three day / three night dive adventures on either motor launches or sailing boats offer day and night dives, accommodation and meals and the opportunity to learn to dive or upskill your existing qualifications.
5. Laguna Quays - Get a bird's eye view
What better way to discover the islands and reef than from the air? Aviation Tourism Australia, Aviation Adventures and Air Whitsunday all provide a range of scenic flights which will be sure to leave you breathless.
Pretend to be King or Queen for the day and escape for a romantic picnic on a deserted island, propose while flying over Heart Reef, be awed by the spectacular aerial view of Hill Inlet or even fly to an island for a day of luxury!
Whether it's a sea plane or a helicopter, or even in a bubble helicopter with the doors off, you'll be able to take your own postcard pictures of some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Day trips to the outer reef are also available - so combine a view from above with a view from below, with snorkelling and diving available at both the Hardy Reef and Knuckle Reef pontoons. Or for the ultimate experience, go snorkelling straight from your seaplane anchored in the waters of the reef.
Which ever way you choose to fly, the Whitsundays is certainly best 'scene' from above!
So if you really want to live it up royal-style, this could be the place for you!