The Whitsunday Islands are a collective of continental islands that lie off the coast of Queensland, Australia. There are some 74 tropical islands to explore on your yacht charter, most of which are unspoiled national parks and uninhabited. Most of these islands are close to each other so navigation in the Whitsunday Islands is normally by line of sight. The main yacht charter bases of the Whitsunday Islands are Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island.
The choice of yacht charter in the Whitsunday Islands is very extensive and includes; bareboat yacht charter, luxury crewed yacht charter, skippered yacht charter, dive charter, fishing charter, monohull and catamaran charter and both sail and motor yacht charter.
The Whitsunday Islands lie off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north eastern corner of the mainland continent. It is neighboured by the Northern Territory to the west, South Australia to the south west and New South Wales to the south. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. The area was first colonised by Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, who arrived between 40 000 and 65 000 years ago. Later, Queensland was made a British Crown Colony that was separated from New South Wales in 1859. Queensland is often nicknamed the Sunshine State, since it enjoys warm weather and a sizable portion of the state is in the tropics. Their geographic co-ordinates are 20°18'S, 148°56'E. The Whitsunday Islands are situated between Townsville in the north and Mackayin the south. They are 500 miles north of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland.
The Whitsunday Islands can be divided into four groups; The Whitsunday Group, the Lindeman Group, The Molle's and the Northern Group
The Whitsunday Group includes; Bird Island, Black Island, Border Island, Cid Island, Cowrie Island, Deloraine Island, Dent Island, Dumbell Island, Dungarra Island, Esk Island, Fitzalan Island, Hamilton Island, Harold Island, Haslewood Island, Hayman Island, Henning Island, Hook Island, Ireby Island, Langford Island, Long Island, Lupton Island, Nicolson Island, Perseverance Island, Plum Pudding Island, Teague Island, Titan Island, Whitsunday Island, Wirrainbela Island, Workington Island
The Lindeman Group of islands is located at 20°27'S, 149°04'E. The islands in the Lindeman Group include; Baynham Island, Cornston Island, Gaibirra Island, Triangle Island, Keyser Island, Lindeman Island, Little Lindeman Island, Maher Island, Mansell Island, Pentecost Island, Seaforth Island, Shaw Island, Thomas Island, Volskow Island
The Molle's group include; Daydream Island, Denman Island, Goat Island, Mid Molle Island, North Molle Island, Planton Island, South Molle Island
The Northern Group comprises; Armit Island, Double Cone Island, Eshelby Island, Gloucester Island, Grassy Island, Gumbrell Island, Olden Island, Rattray Island, Saddleback Island
English is spoken throughout the Whitsunday Islands. The currency is the Australian Dollar. Major credit cards are accepted widely.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. And a divers paradise. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park protects 70% of the region fostering superb coral formations and an abundance of marine life. The tranquil and turquoise waters are home to whales, dolphins, turtles and manta rays. The Great Barrier Reef stretches nearly 1500 miles along the northeast coast of Australia; it is the largest structure on the planet built by living organisms. It can even be seen from outer space. Up close, however it is truly spectacular. New fish species are found in the Great Barrier area every year. There are approximately 4,000 molluscs and 350 hard, or reef-building, corals. One coral chunk the size of a basketball yielded 1,441 worms from 103 species. The Great Barrier Reef is comprised of more than 2,800 coral reefs. The carnival of colourful marine life that call it home provide some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world. Novice divers find it hard to describe the unforgettable encounter of seeing over a 100 fish per minute. Experienced divers will be moved by this ultimate experience.
Sunny tropical weather is almost guaranteed year round in the Whitsunday Islands. Avoid school holidays for off-peak periods. Yacht charters are cheaper and the Whitsunday Islands are not as crowded. At any time of year, there is usually enough wind for a pleasant sail.
Summer runs from December to March and is warm and humid with rain showers. Winter runs from June to September and is warm by day and cool at night. Trade winds usually blow slightly stronger from May to August. There is a risk of cyclones from February to March. Late September to early November are considered by some to be the best cruising weather in the Whitsunday Islands. The average daily temperature of is 27°C. January is the warmest month averaging 30°C and July the coolest month averaging 23°C. The water temperature remains a pleasant 23 - 27°C with the average year round water temperature being an inviting 24°C.
The months from October through to May are "stinger" season. Stingers are jellyfish. Jellyfish are the most common wildlife hazard in the area. There are many species of jellyfish in the area; the toxicity of their stings is just as varied. Jellyfish are a problem during stinger season when swimming is not advised at all. An encounter with one is very painful and can be life threatening. You may want to hire or buy a lycra suit to swim in if you plan to swim in the ocean during those months for safety reasons. A stinger suit is usually a full body lycra suit designed to prevent the effects of jellyfish. In recent years a major element in jellyfish injuries is the Irukandji jellyfish.
Tide will be a major factor in planning your sailing day. The tidal flow floods the area to the South, and ebbs to the North flowing around 3 knots. Where the islands are situated close together particularly at the Solway, Fitzallen and Hook Island passages, the tide flows at around 5 knots.
Each island has it's own fringing reef system and you will need to use your eyes carefully when choosing your yacht anchorage. You should aim to anchor before 16.00 while the light is still perfectly OK and you will be able to avoid the coral reefs. Buoy markers and public moorings are located in sensitive areas in several locations around the islands in order to protect the coral. You will find them in on Hook Island, Hayman Island and Daydream Island. You are required to either pick up one of the many mooring balls or anchor outside of the reef markers.
Many yacht charter companies are based in Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine is situated about 10 milers inland from Airlie Beach. Flying times are a 1 hour and 30 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes from Brisbane and Sydney respectively. As Airlie Beach is located on a peninsula that stretches out to the Whitsunday passage, it is an ideal base. The colourful beach town is focused on serving the needs of the large number of travellers who gather there to embark on a long yacht charter or just a day sail. Airlie Beach provides many of the essential services for sailors. Shopping areas are open seven days a week for provisioning and there are plenty of dining and entertainment options as well.
Whitehaven Beach is one of the most outstanding "sandscapes" in the world. It is recognized as one of the best beaches in the world it will be a highlight of your sailing holiday. Whitehaven Beach is located on the eastern side of the uninhabited Whitsunday Island; the natural silica sand spans 3 miles. The sand is said to be 98% pure Silica, giving new meaning to sandy white beach. This is a popular spot and you are likely to encounter other yacht charters. There are no moorings at Whitehaven Beach but plenty of space for anchoring the yacht.
Hamilton Island is one of the Whitsunday Islands most well known resorts and offers a vast range of activities and facilities. Hamilton Island has a fifty-acre fauna park featuring kangaroos, koalas, goannas and other local wildlife. The harbour is very impressive and comprehensive: fuel, water, shipwright, electrical and engineering services and a large range of supplies are all available. It is a good idea to contact the harbourmaster a few days in advance to reserve a berth even though there are many berths for both large and smaller boats. The harbour is located on the western side of Hamilton Island and is relatively easy to navigate. With the largest island airport Hamilton Island is very convenient and some large yacht charter companies have their base on the island.
South Molle Island is just 5 miles from the mainland. Take the walking trail, which brings you through lush forests to hilltop lookouts to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding islands. The many trails will provide opportunities to ponder magnificent views. Anchor the yacht on the eastern side of the jetty being sure to leave enough room for the very large water taxis to manoeuvre.
Hook Island is home to a number of quite, sheltered bays that offer some relief from the multitude of yachts sailing the Whitsunday Islands. In the northern bays of Hook Island public moorings are provided and their use is encouraged. These moorings are there to protect the fantastic coral formations fringing the entire northern coast of Hook Island. Hook Island has some of the best sites in the Whitsunday Islands for snorkelling and diving.
Hayman Island is another popular spot for divers. Dolphin Point offers a great diversity of marine life including clown fish, mackerel and trevally with the occasional hammerhead shark. Blue Pearl Bay is very popular with yacht charter boats and again here is much marine life to see.