Plan Your Trip

The Best of The Whitsundays

Distance
415km

How
Car or Camper

Where
The Whitsundays Region

Date
Year Round

The Whitsundays, in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, offers the very best experience you can find. A truly diverse destination with a holiday for everyone! If you’re looking for the ultimate luxurious romantic rendezvous or action-packed family adventure, island hopping, barefoot walks on the beach or sailing the 74 island wonders, The Whitsundays is your tropical holiday oasis and we have created the ultimate 5-7 day itinerary!

 

Day

DAY 1

Bowen

Start your Whitsundays journey in Bowen. One of The Whitsundays most charming hidden gems. Hit the beach trail: Bowen sits on a square peninsula and is surrounded by eight beautiful beaches to the north, east and south. Walk and fossick along the endless sands of Kinds Beach or Queens Beach; or swim and snorkel in picturesque bays flanked by granite boulders. Some fringing coral reefs are just metres from the beach.

Horseshoe Bay and Rose Bay are top spots for snorkeling and are also great for the whole family.

Insta-moment: Head up to Flagstaff Hill for absolutely spectacular views of Cape Edgecumbe Bay, the North Island Lighthouse and Whitsunday Islands. Then turn around in the opposite direction and the whole of Bowen and its surrounds are spread out before you, as far as the eye can see. This is one spot you won’t want to be without a camera!

History tour: Bowen was established in 1861 and the still-operating salt works attests to its being at the centre of Queensland’s salt industry in the 20th century. Be sure to visit Bowen Historical Society & Museum, on Gordon Street, and the Catalina museum and memorial, which celebrates the brave pilots who used Bowen as a base in World War II.

Dinner: By now you will have worked up an appetite so why not head to the marina where there is an array of delicious seafood on offer. Eat your fish and chip supper while looking out at the tinkling boats moored up for the evening. If you are not a seafood lover and feel like a pub meal, why not head to the Grand View Hotel. This legendary pub had a starring role in Baz Luhrmann’s film, ‘Australia’.

There is a great range of accommodations available in Bowen, from comfortable resort accommodations with brilliant views, self-contained apartments, well-priced motels, and more.

Want to know more about where to stay in Bowen? Click here.

DAY 2

Collinsville

Breakfast: Start the morning off with the most important meal of the day. A scrumptious breakfast at one of the many cafés in the area will satisfy the appetite while you soak up the great surrounding ambience. Make sure you stop by The Big Mango for an iconic photo op and stock up on mango sorbet.

It’s time to hit the road and make your way to Collinsville, the Heart of the Outback! Situated at the foothills of the Clarke Range, the historic mining town of Collinsville is about a 45-minute drive inland from Bowen through fields of colourful fruit and vegetables and cattle stations. It is a small outback town that makes up for its size with its huge country welcome!

Bowen River Hotel

Built in the 1860s, heritage-listed Bowen River Hotel is a step back in time. Enjoy an elaborate collection of memorabilia and be sure to keep an eye out while you are wandering the rooms for the “other” visitors from times gone by. Legend has it, a ghost or two frequent the halls of this historic location. Sit back and enjoy a good old fashioned pub lunch and enjoy the historic tales from the publican!

Bowen River Hotel to Pit Pony Experience

Installed in 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the last working pit ponies in Australia, this project is centred around a life-size bronze sculpture. Grab a pic with the Pit Pony statue before visiting locals favourite the Pit Pony Tavern for a refreshing drink and more incredible local history, you will be made to feel at home by the Pit Pony Crew.

Pit Pony Experience to Coalface Museum

Take a step back in time at the Collinsville Coalface Museum. The centre of the Collinsville mining heritage, the museum is a dedication to the region’s rich history of mining as well as the stories of what it was like above and below ground in the 1950s.

Coalface Museum to Opal Ridge Motel

Country hospitality is the key here, be sure to check out Opal Ridge Motel, a contemporary country style motel with a touch of class! This family-run business has a great lounge and bistro on-site. Rest up from the road, tomorrow we recommend an early start as you journey to Proserpine, the Heart of Country Hospitality.

Want more to explore in Collinsville? Click here for more info.

DAY 3

Proserpine

Follow State Route 77 out of Collinsville to the Bruce Highway as you head towards the charming town of Proserpine. Named by the explorer George Dalrymple, after Proserpina the goddess of grain and harvest, recognising the fertile qualities in the region. Since the late 1800s, cattle grazing and sugar cane have been the economic mainstays here.

Proserpine Main Street

The main street’s well preserved ‘art deco’ shop architecture is a reminder of how life used to be. Old-fashioned courtesies thrive in Proserpine, particularly at the local shops and country-style hotels. Colour Me Crazy is an Aladdin’s cave of jewels, clothing, homewares, garden art and lots, lots more from all parts of the world and is just one of the many amazing stores you will find tucked away in the nooks and crannies off the Proserpine Main Street. With an eclectic variety of shops, every visitor will find a store to get lost in as well as a myriad of dining choices. You will find an excellent counter lunch at any of the quaint-country pubs along the main street, be sure to have a yarn with the friendly locals.

Lake Proserpine

Lake Proserpine (aka Peter Faust Dam) is located just 30 minutes from the charming town of Proserpine and is an ideal spot for camping, water sports and freshwater fishing. In fact, Lake Proserpine is renowned for having more barramundi over a metre in length than any other impoundment in Australia! The recreational facilities have recently undergone a major upgrade and has never looked better!

Lake Proserpine to Proserpine Tourist Park

Next up we recommend you spend the night at the Proserpine Tourist Park. Situated off the Main Street of Proserpine, it is in a quiet location with both powered sites and cabin accommodation. The park is right next door to the local swimming pool and waterpark which both have free entry! And only a few steps away is the Proserpine Bowls Club AND Proserpine Golf Club.

Proserpine captured your heart? Click here for more info.

DAY 4

Airlie Beach

Cedar Creek Falls

Today we start our journey in the Whitsunday Coast hinterland, home to waterfalls and hidden beaches. Walk along Conway Road then along Saltwater Creek Road towards Cedar Creek Falls, where, in the wet season you’ll experience the tropical waterfall luckily though, whatever the season, there’s a year-round natural swimming pool at the base of the falls. There are walking tracks that lead you to the top of the waterfall, where you will find lots of smaller waterfalls and rock pools looking out over the Conway National Park. Once you’ve cooled off, jump in the car, it’s time to head to one of the local’s favourite spots.

Hydeaway Bay

Hydeaway Bay is located on the coast, around 45 minutes drive north of Airlie Beach. This little hidden wonder is home to a stretch of beach over 2 kilometres long with five public access points, meaning you will likely have your own little section of beach all to yourself. The beach is characterised by a few rocky outcrops filled with long stretches of white sand, the perfect place to take your family, search for unique shells, or do a little rock hopping. If you find yourself thirsty for a bevy, pop into the Cape Gloucester Eco Resort. The resort has a pool and beachfront tables you can use, perfect for an afternoon drink while watching the sun melt into the ocean.

Airlie Beach

Soak up the sun and enjoy a swim at the Airlie Beach Lagoon, a massive swimming pool bordered by sandy beach areas and grassy knolls, located within close distance to the main street. It is the perfect place to kick off your tropical adventure on the mainland, and the free public lagoon and surrounding parkland area also feature a children’s splash pool and playground equipment, providing the perfect location for families. There are also several barbeque facilities situated throughout the lagoon’s parklands.

Just a short stroll from the lagoon, on the Airlie Beach foreshore, you will find further barbeque facilities and a gigantic children’s playground standing 10.5m high.

The lure of shopping in The Whitsundays is the variety and interest the shops offer, with many stores having their own distinct style. Jewellery, homewares, artworks and Indigenous artefacts are all to be found, as well as fashions, food and fun things for the kids. Not surprisingly, the main street of Airlie Beach is also dotted with souvenir shops selling colourful swimwear, sarongs, sandals, and sunhats.

Visiting on a Saturday? Be sure to visit the Lions Airlie Beach Community Markets. Located on the Airlie Beach Foreshore it is a cornucopia of amazing locally made souvenirs, local produce and mouthwatering food and drink.

Meander along the Bicentennial Boardwalk taking in the magnificent views across the Coral Sea. Enjoy a delicious meal prepared with fresh local ingredients at one of the many restaurants that line the main street. If you like your evening with a little action; party the night away at bustling bars and pubs of Airlie Beach. The nightlife, great weather, stunning vistas, and friendly locals are some of the reasons people love visiting this town.

WHERE TO STAY:

Airlie Beach boasts a broad array of accommodation from stylish 5-star resort hotels on the water’s edge and apartments on the hillside overlooking the panorama of beach, bay and islands, to bed and breakfast options, motels, action-packed holiday parks with cabin, camping and caravan facilities, as well as backpacker accommodation. The town easily achieves the perfect balance between all of these styles, with all accommodation houses taking maximum advantage of the stunning views.

Want to know more about Tours and Accommodation in Airlie Beach. Click here for more info.

DAY 5 – 7 and beyond!

Choose your own adventure

Island Resorts

Choose between one of our diverse island paradise resorts. Each island offers an experience for everyone from a fun –filled, adventure-packed family holiday to a luxurious romantic escape for two.

The resort islands to choose from are:
Camp Island Lodge – Experience with your own private island! Taking a maximum of eight guests this is the ultimate Rockstar experience.

Daydream Island Resort and Living Reef – Home to the iconic Living Reef centrepiece and an underwater observatory Daydream Island is great for families, couples and friends all looking for the perfect island getaway.

Elysian Retreat Long Island – A blissful escape from the crowds on the southern point of Long Island. A boutique island retreat with a small team of dedicated staff, including a private chef, that caters to a maximum of 20 guests.

Hamilton Island – Whether you are planning a couple’s rendezvous, a family getaway, or a group celebration, Hamilton Island has six different types of accommodation to choose from. Enjoy ultimate luxury at qualia or the boutique, adults-only, Beach Club. Relax in the four-star Reef View Hotel, enjoy large rooms and magnificent views, or experience the convenience of self-contained Palm Bungalows as well as a range of holiday homes on offer.

Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort – A secluded piece of paradise that will amaze you with its breath-taking natural beauty and serene location. Featuring grassy cliffs, crescent-shaped white beaches and celestial-blue sea, Hayman Island presents a spectacular sensory experience.

 

Palm Bay Resort Long Island – Offers a unique holiday experience combining gorgeous Balinese style accommodation dwellings with the convenience and affordability of self-catering. The resort also offers kayaking, fishing, tours and water sports.

Whitsunday Apartments Hamilton Island – 4 Star rated and located on the resort side of Hamilton Island overlooking the golden sands of Catseye Beach. All apartments are recently refurbished and feature a spacious lounge and dining area, full kitchen facilities, large private balcony, and offer stunning views over the ocean or the tropical gardens.

Overnight Sailing

The Whitsundays offer some of the world’s best sailing and cruising holidays. The combination of a warm climate, steady breezes, clear turquoise waters, secluded coves and anchorages, fringing reefs and isolated beaches is irresistible. Step on board a luxurious yacht or catamaran and set sail for your Whitsundays adventure. Drop the anchor in a secluded cove, take a dip or snorkel over fringing reefs with myriads of colourful fish and corals. You can do as much or as little as you like while exploring the waterways of The Whitsundays, the Heart of Sailing. Navigate your own holiday, join other travellers on a packaged overnight crewed sailing adventure or hire a skipper to pull the ropes while you unwind on deck.

From catamarans where you can enjoy a romantic rendezvous, tall ship adventures that are perfect for the whole family and maxi racing yachts which are all about fun, adventure and making new friends there is an overnight sailing experience for everyone. Best of all you can experience the Wonders of The Whitsundays when everyone else has gone home for the day. Imagine an entire beach with just you and your newfound mates!

Explore the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef

If you are looking for another adventure The Whitsundays offers a diverse range of day tours from land, sea, and air to suit every traveller. Explore the ancient rainforests of the National Parks across both the Whitsunday Coast and Islands with a range of hiking trails leading to exceptional views and eye-opening lookouts.

Discover the magical underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef and island fringing reefs as you snorkel and scuba dive with an abundance of marine life and vivacious corals. Many tours include snorkelling in their itineraries. There is plenty of opportunities to brush up on your mermaid (or merman) skills!

Sink your toes into the pristine silica sand of world-famous Whitehaven Beach which stretch over seven kilometres along Whitsunday Island, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsunday group. It defines nature at its best, it’s no surprise it often tops the best beaches list the world over, experiencing Whitehaven Beach provides an amazing sense of relaxation and escape.

Not to be missed is the beauty of the Hill Inlet which must be seen to be believed. As the tide shifts, the silica white sand of Whitehaven Beach combined with the blue-green hues of the inlet blend seamlessly to create a swirling fusion of turquoise colours. Hill Inlet is best viewed from up high, whether it be from the lookout at Tongue Point or on a scenic flight.

Want to take a cruise around the Whitsundays islands? Why not jump on board Cruise Whitsundays for an Island Hopping tour and experience a tasting platter of The Whitsundays all in one day! Or check out their resort connection timetable and pay a visit to Hamilton and Daydream Islands at your own leisure.

Want to know more about the Tours available around The Whitsundays? Click here for more info.