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Updated: 2nd September 2015
The Whitsundays are a slice of Australia beach paradise, located off the coast of Queensland they were one of my highlights whilst driving along the Bruce highway from Brisbane to Cairns.
The famous image of Whitehaven Beach, regularly called the ‘worlds best beach’ is one you cant have missed whilst planning a trip to the land down under. But does it live up to all the hype?
Getting to the Whitsundays
The main access point to the Whitsundays on the mainland is Airlie Beach. A small town which has a definite backpackers vibe to it. With plenty of bars, shops and accommodation options it’s a welcome relief to some of the smaller and lacking in facility places you might have stopped off at on the road-trip there.
With a well cared for swimming lagoon and the instant feeling that you need to relax it’s a pretty good spot to chill out for a few days and explore the neighbouring islands from.
If you are after good views and a bit more space then the Waterview Airlie Apartment where I spent two nights is a great call. The team there are friendly and seriously helpful in finding and booking activities for you, often hunting around for the best prices before coming back to you.
The Whitsundays comprise of 74 tropical islands including the most well known and air access point Hamilton Island. The most famous destination however is sure to be Whitehaven beach.
Hiring your own boat or jumping on a live-aboard are popular ways to explore all the islands have to offer and is something I am keen to get back to one day.
A boat over there from Shute Harbour or Airlie beach isn’t the cheapest in the world, but ask around town and you should be able to find which operators are offering deal prices at the time.
A small nature trail also takes you from the beach to a higher vantage point which gives you awesome views over some of the neighbouring islands.
For sure, the white sands of the beach and the beautiful clear waters are stunning. I have got to say though, I am not sure it was worth the cost or time to get there for just a beach. You can’t really appreciate the beauty of it in all its glory from the ground level.
Flying above the Whitsundays
It wasn’t until I got a birds eye view of both the islands and the Great Barrier Reef that I literally had my breath taken away.
Flying a scenic flight above the islands is not cheap. I went with GSL Aviation who operate from the airport just out of town, they also offer chartered transfers to other islands such as Hamilton Island which has its own runway airport.
Straight away you can feel at ease, with an easy pick up and professional pilots being sat in the front seat for once didn’t trigger my fear of flights which I thought such a small plane would.
It goes without saying this isn’t a cheap activity, starting at A$99 for just the islands or A$199 to include the reef as well.
I wish I could put into words just how mind-blowingly beautiful the view is from altitude. You can’t appreciate the ‘swirls’ of white haven beach from below, but above it is a treat for the eyes.
The famous ‘Heart Reef’ also is on route over the islands, again, this certainly did meet the hype. The sheer size of the reef which stretches all the way up to Cairns is certainly better grasped when taking a flight.
I would even go as far as saying if it’s a choice between playing in the sand or cruising above, the flight would get my money every time.
Where is your favourite beach in the world? Have you visited Whitehaven – disappointing or amazing?