Best of the Whitsundays – On Water
The Whitsundays has an array of amazing experiences for every holiday maker to enjoy, whether you prefer adrenalin and excitement or relaxation and rejuvenation. There are Whitsundays experiences that are social and fun, experiences to help you reconnect with family and partners, experiences to get the adrenalin pumping, experiences to help you relax and unwind and so many more. Here are a few hero experiences, which involve heading out on the water.
THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
The world’s largest living structure and visible from outer space, the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef is just a short trip from the Whitsunday Coast and islands. Many people from around the world dream of one day seeing the magical, natural formation of the iconic Heart Reef from the air and no visit to the Whitsundays is complete without a helicopter or seaplane flight over the reef itself.
To truly experience the magic of the Great Barrier Reef we highly recommend snorkeling or scuba diving on the fringing island reefs or the outer Great Barrier Reef. With an array of healthy coral – both soft and hard – schools of colourful fish, mantarays, sea turtles and much more, this aquatic playground is easily accessible from Abell Point Marina and the mainland coast.
Contrary to media speculation the health of the reef in the Whitsunday catchment is very good. Many of the popular dive sites throughout the Whitsundays are abundant with diverse marine species and are guaranteed to provide visitors with an awe inspiring underwater experience that will stay with them forever.
The crystal clear aqua waters and pristine silica sand of Whitehaven Beach stretch over seven kilometres along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the Whitsundays’ 74 islands. The sand on Whitehaven Beach is formed of nearly 98% pure silica which not only creates the stunning pure white reflection from the beach on the perfect Whitsunday day, but also means the sand does not retain heat so even on the hottest of days a stroll along the beach is an absolute pleasure.
At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach and accessible from the anchorage of Tongue Bay, is the magical Hill Inlet. The magical views from the lookout at Hill Inlet have captured the heart of many a traveller. The swirling white silica sands and crystal clear aqua waters create amazing patterns that are different with every tide. Officially the most photographed location in the Whitsundays, the view from Hill Inlet is iconic.
There are many ways to get to Whitehaven Beach for the day, with trips of all kinds departing from Abell Point Marina. Many of the day tours combine a trip to the beach with a snorkel in the afternoon, making for the perfect day in paradise.
SCUBA DIVING AND SNORKELLING
Coral gardens form fringing reef around almost every Whitsunday island, and the Great Barrier Reef is only a short boat ride from Abell Point Marina. Incredible scuba dive sites are scattered up and down the reef and around the islands, abundant with tranquil marine life. If you have always dreamt of scuba diving or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, let the Whitsundays show you some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world.
Around the island anchorages such a Butterfly Bay, Luncheon Bay and Blue Pearl Bay provide the perfect starting point for any snorkeling or diving adventure. For beginners these anchorages provide beach access and have plenty of marine life and coral in the shallow water along the shore. For the more adventurous divers try Pinnacle Bay or Mantaray Bay, both which have great diving conditions along the northern tip of Hook Island.
Further out at Bait Reef, the ‘Stepping Stones’ are a favourite dive spot, the name taken from the formation of a series of large coral bommies on the western side. The channel between Hardy and Hook reefs is well protected from ocean currents again making for a comfortable dive site abundant with coral and marina life.
WHALE SEASON IS JUNE – SEPTEMBER
Whales visit the Whitsundays every year during the winter months, on their annual migration north. From June to September, whales are a common sight frolicking among the islands and on the Great Barrier Reef. They return year after year to the Whitsundays to give birth, choosing the warm, calm, protected waters of the Whitsundays as in ideal nursery.
Whilst measure are in place to ensure that a suitable distance is maintained from whales in the Whitsundays, you are almost guaranteed to see mother and calf cruising the Whitsunday waters. As female humpbacks teach their newborns how to survive in these warm tropical waters, the protection of the islands and the reef provide the perfect place to these life lessons.
Various day tours operate from the marina out to Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsunday Islands, so have your cameras ready to capture the experience of a lifetime. Particularly prevalent in the outer reef, once the sun has set for the evening, there is every likelihood you will be serenaded by the sounds of mother and calf communicating creating vibrations through the hull. A truly Whitsunday experience!