Adventure Cruises in Whitsunday Islands

Famed for its huge stretches of white powder sand beaches and azure waters on the island of Whitsundays, cruises can take you to some of Australia's most beautiful barrier reefs and colossal beaches. This is a much-loved part of the Great Barrier Reef for sailing, thanks to sheltered bays and warm, balmy nights. The island’s coast is lined with barrier reefs topped with white sand, allowing visitors to explore the reefs by snorkeling from their small cruise ship and sunbathing on the spits and beaches. Bright corals are plentiful and covered with thousands of colorful fishes attracting turtles and huge Maori wrasse. Above the waterline, and if you can tear yourself away from the beaches, bushwalks offer panoramic views of the island and its coast and dramatic waterfalls and forests full of fascinating wildlife.

On board the small ship cruise, you can while away sunbathing, enjoying meals and drinks with other guests, and taking in the scenery. Onboard barbeques and delicious picnics of fresh local Australian cuisine can be enjoyed on the boat or on the beaches and spits of sand. Whales and dolphins can also be spotted from a small ship cruise around the Whitsundays, and many bottlenose dolphins might even follow the boat and enjoy playing in the bow waves. Cruises in Whitsundays are famous for star-watching, beautiful clear skies, and sparse artificial light. You can enjoy a spectacular show and maybe even sleep on deck overnight.

Best Whitsundays cruises and areas to visit

Tongue Bay

The huge white sand beach of Whitehaven Beach in Tongue Bay is a perfect place to anchor on a small ship cruise. The area is beautiful and sheltered, with a huge beach area and several bushwalks to take you to viewpoints in the forested areas. Turtles are a common sight here, and snorkeling is very popular; many other watersports are available in Tongue Bay, including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. It is worth noting that the beaches at Tongue Bay are only accessible at low tide, and it is best to discuss timings with the crew of your cruise boat.

Langford Island

This long strip of beach and land may be small, but great things come in small packages. The long white strip of sand jutting out from the islet is the stuff of dreams. Also, it is the ultimate spot to take that sun-soaked desert island photo to make everyone back home green with envy. The island is surrounded by a beautiful reef, a perfect location to snorkel and enjoy the warm, crystal-clear waters. The only thing to watch here is the tide; your small ship cruise crew will let you know when you need to return to the boat so as not to get stranded.

Butterfly and Luncheon Bay

These two bays are the ideal anchorage on a small ship cruise of the Whitsundays, thanks to their sheltered position and beautiful wildlife. Snorkellers will find giant wrasse, reef fish, and colorful corals. On land, take a bushwalk and enjoy the bird and butterfly species in this extraordinary place. These bays are also slightly quieter than others due to the limited number of moorings.

Best time to cruise in Whitsundays

With year-round warm weather and perfect sailing conditions, the best time to cruise Whitsundays is anytime. The hottest time of the year is from December to March, when the weather is warm and humid, and the water is the perfect swimming temperature. This wetter period never dampers the fun; the rain is usually relatively short-lived. The winter months are drier and have the added attraction of being whale season. If you visit Whitsundays from June to August, you can see the migrating humpback whales passing through with their calves. Many people find September one of the best times to visit Whitsundays for the weather conditions alone. The days are drier, but the water is still almost as warm as in the winter months.

How to get to Whitsundays

Reaching Whitsundays can be done by air from most major Australian airports, including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Cairns. There are two airports near Whitsundays: the Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Coast Airport. Most small ship cruises of Whitsundays depart from Airlie Beach, which is only half an hour’s drive from Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine on the mainland. There are frequent shuttle buses between the airport and Airlie Beach.

Whitsundays Cruise Tips

  • Many small ship cruises around Whitsundays are sailing boats that offer the chance to try your hand at sailing. If you want to learn something on your holiday, ask the crew, and they will allow you to help them.
  • The Australian way of life is very laid-back, which means lots of fun and no need to dress up. You can leave your high fashion holiday wear at home. Stick with T-shirts and maybe a sweater, just in case. Bring comfortable shoes for bush walks, preferably light but with covered toes.
  • A camera is a must-have; this is one of the world’s most scenic places. It might also be worthwhile to bring a small waterproof camera if you plan on snorkeling, kayaking, or paddleboarding.
  • The sun shines bright in Whitsundays, even more so because of the reflection of white beaches and expanses of water. A good shady hat, polarised sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreens are a must, especially if you are looking to do watersports and bushwalking.
  • Whitsundays is a trendy area, attracting tourists from Australia and worldwide. It is highly advisable to book well in advance, especially if you have your heart set on a particular itinerary or small cruise boat.

Whitsunday Islands Reviews

  • 9.2 Superb
  • 6 Verified Reviews
  • 9.2 Superb
  • Kim R
  • United States United States

The views and visit to the beaches was great.

Cruising Whitsunday Islands in July on the Hammer

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Kimberly K
  • United States United States

Good. We went to Whitehaven Beach and 2 snorkel sites.

Cruising Whitsunday Islands in December on the Eureka

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Irwin S
  • United States United States

Enjoyed Whitehaven beach, the hiking and snorkeling activities. Appreciated that wetsuits were available since water was still chilly.

Cruising Whitsunday Islands in October on the Entice

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Nnamdi O
  • Italy Italy

Nice, we got there in the morning when it was less busy

Cruising Whitsunday Islands in December on the Eureka

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Anna-Lena N
  • Germany Germany

Not to miss when travelling Australia. The whole area is stunning and so fun to explore

Cruising Whitsunday Islands in June on the Broomstick