The Whitsundays lies midway along the Queensland coast, a group of some 74 islands bordered by the Great Barrier Reef and cradled by the calm waters of the Coral Sea and a picturesque mainland of wooded peninsulas, sandy coves and welcoming holiday resorts. Lying just off the Queensland coast and sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays are Australia's answer to the cruising grounds of the Caribbean, and home to the island continent's largest fleet of charter yachts. The 74 islands most of them in pristine national parks offer a lifetime's worth of quiet anchorages and empty white-sand beaches fanned by steady breezes virtually every day of the year.
Located just north of Mackay, these idyllic islands, known as the Whitsunday Group, are set in the Whitsunday Passage, the safest sailing waters in the world. Many islands are national parks, some are deserted and just waiting for you to explore them.
All of them are beautiful. The Whitsunday Islands look just like the mountain peaks they once were before rising sea levels cut them off from the mainland six thousand years ago. They were seasonally inhabited by the Ngaro Aborigines when Captain Cook sailed through in 1770; he proceeded to name the area after the day he arrived, and various locations after sponsors of expeditions. Today, dense green pine forests and roughly contoured coastlines give the islands instant appeal, and the surrounding seas bustle with yachts and cruisers. Resorts first opened in the 1930s, but the majority of islands are still undeveloped and controlled by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, who maintain campsites on thirteen and resorts on four. The few islands left in private hands house another three resorts, while the rest are mainly uninhabited and largely the domain of local yachties.
Whitehaven Beach is widely recognised as the icon of the Whitsundays. Whitsunday Island, home to the heavenly Whitehaven Beach, is the largest of the Whitsunday Islands. Whitehaven beach is 7 kilometres of pure white sand which is unique in that it consists of 98% silica.
Travelling on Kiana opens the way to the great snorkelling and Scuba diving in these warm tropical waters. Dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles are common here, and migrating humpback whales visit from July through September. On shore, you can explore nature trails or just settle into a secluded cove for long days of sunbathing and snorkelling.