The Whitsundays is up there as one of Australia’s most spectacular destinations. If adventure is your jam, then we want to help you plan the wildest trip there possible. Wham bam thank you mam.
There is no denying that Airlie Beach is a popular spot these days; it’s essentially a holding pen for escape artists looking to explore the Whitsundays Islands and its bountiful supply of surrounding coastline. With an unthinkable amount to see and do in the region, the hardest part is filtering out what’s best for you to experience during a visit here.
We decided to pick out a top 10. It was a mighty tough job. We put our ears to the ground, crawled through the internet’s undergrowth, spoke to trusty locals and then uncovered the best of the best for those looking to have an absolute humdinger of an adventure escape in this tropical paradise. Deep breath, here goes…
Hydeaway Bay is a little gem of a place less than 40 minutes from Prosperpine airport. A highly recommended base during a visit here, it just feels light-years from the noisy madness of Airlie. It’s as close as you’ll get to island life on the mainland too – perfect for those with sea-sickness or extreme laziness. There are some quirky airbnb options on the beaches and in the surrounding hills for you to lay your hat near Dingo Beach.
2. Explore Finch Hatton Gorge
No trip to the tropics is complete without a deep soul cleanse beneath a waterfall. Whilst Cedar Creek Falls is closer to Airlie, it’s worth driving a little further into the Mackay Region to reach Finch Hatton Gorge. Park up and hike for 3km upon volcanic boulders and through rainforest to reach the Wheel of Fire Cascades. Prepare to lose your breath, it’s absolutely spectacular. If you’re partial to a cheeky rock jump too…just saying.
3. Croc Fest
Bredl’s Wild Farm is one wacky place and well worth a visit. It’s essentially a zoo, just without the ticketed turnstiles, fancy gift shop and the general polish that you’re used to. The crocs are of course the feature (did you know this part of Queensland has more than anywhere else the state?), but the whole experience is raw, up close, personal and very, very Australian.
4. Sail a Tall Ship
Choosing a boat in the Whitsundays is a bit like using Tinder in Sydney; there are some beauties out there but they’re rarely available. Get a match with the Derwent Hunter though and you’ve just bagged yourself a hell of a date.
5. Camp on your Own Island
Many people think you need to spend a small fortune to sleep on an island in the Whitsundays. We call BS. Yep, you can claim an island for yourself for the paltry sum of $6.15. There are a few to pick from – Saddleback Island is one such place. You won’t get room service here, but you will wake up to a view that’ll send your instagram followers into like frenzy.
6. Snorkel or Dive the Great Barrier Reef
No trip to the Whitsunday’s is complete without seeing the reef. It’s like going to a theme park and not riding the Big Dipper. The options are endless, whether you’re looking for a quick one day snorkeling escape or a multi-day diving expedition. Decide how many days (and dollars) you can spare, and lock this in. It’s an absolute must.
7. Go Sea Kayaking
The greatest adventures are the self-propelled ones, and in a waterworld like the Whitsundays the most achievable one is kayaking. Salty Dog Sea Kayaking are the go to provider for all your paddling needs and if you’re up to it, you can also paddle out to Gloucester Island and camp under the stars; go fishing, snorkel the bay and climb that goddam mountain.
#8 Hire your own Motorboat
“You play the motorboat?”
From Dingo Beach you can can also charter your own vessel to explore the surrounding islands in. Load up with a map, snorkelling gear and an esky and let the good times roll – just don’t forget to keep an eye out for the tide!
9. Take to the Skies in Seaplane
If time is short (and your piggy bank is full) an incredible way to see the reef is from the air with Air Whitsundays. The perspective it affords; the scale, the colours…they even drop you off on Whithaven Beach for bottle of champagne and a picnic. Indulgent? Yes. Worth it? F yeah.
# 10 Fall from the Skies
If flying in a perfectly constructed aircraft doesn’t provide sufficient adrenaline release, then you can always fling yourself out of it. There are many places to skydive in Australia, but none come close to here – hurtling yourself towards the world’s greatest natural wonder is a pretty cool way to close off your adventure to the Whitsundays. Book it in with Airlie Beach Skydive.