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Recommended anchorages

Click on an anchorage to read more about the amazing places to visit during your charter. All vessels are equipped with the "Whitsundays’ bible", 100 Magic Miles, which has more detailed information.

Burning Point
Burning Point
Bush Stone-curlew

Sailor's secret:

Look for schools of sting rays feeding on the grassy seabed at high tide and turtles breaking for air. At sunset, you'll see the lights of Lindeman Island appear.

Features:

Shaw Island is rugged and spectacular. Cruise to the south-west to anchor off Burning Point, at the southern end. The nearby beach is a Significant Bird Site - a nesting beach for the threatened beach stone curlew. Speed limits and visiting restrictions apply from October to March. The Great Barrier Reef supports some 215 bird species including 22 species of seabirds and 32 species of shorebirds.

Lindeman Island
Lindeman Island
Lush vegetation along a waking track on Lindeman Island in the Whitsundays

Sailor's secret:

Marvel at the magic of Lindeman which was formed about 110 million years ago when a volcanic mountain range was drowned by rising sea levels.

Features:

Lindeman Island has about 700 hectares of World Heritage national parkland. Explore some of the more remote parts via more than 20 kilometres of bushwalking tracks. Walk to the top of Mount Oldfield, 212 metres above sea level, and be rewarded with breathtaking, 360-degree views of Pentecost, Hamilton and Whitsunday islands. There are seven stunning beaches with Gap Beach - a fantastic spot for snorkelling and oystering. The jetty is public and may be used for unloading/loading passengers or to tie up the dinghy.

Happy Bay
Happy Bay
A climbing koala looking down from the branch of a tree

Sailor's secret:

Follow footprints in the sand and you might spot a koala in a gum tree. Happy Bay is one of the few spots in the islands where you can see koalas in the wild.

Features:

Happy Bay, at the northern end of Long Island and home of Long Island Resort (currently closed for refurbishments), is a popular first-night anchorage being just a couple of hours' sail from Shute Harbour. To stay overnight, radio ahead your arrival time and book a mooring with the watersports manager at the resort. Long Island is a national park dotted with walking tracks suitable for all.
 

Hamilton Harbour
Hamilton Harbour
An array of yachts and motor cruisers berthed at the jetties of Hamilton Island marina

Sailor's secret:

As host to a dazzling display of vessels from around the world, this is just the spot to capture a perfect sailing image as the sun sets over masts.

Features:

For an overnight fee that entitles you to the "keys to the island", you can berth at the marina and enjoy fine dining, nightclubbing, boutique shopping, watersports, go-karting and more. Hamilton Harbour is marked by port and starboard beacons. The harbour is dredged to 2.4 metres at low tide throughout, deeper in the channel that runs off the marina to the main jetties at the head of the harbour. Radio ahead to the harbour master to arrange a berth. Call on arrival and you'll be directed to a mooring. Moorings are alongside Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

Shute Harbour
Shute Harbour
Aerial view of Shute Harbour and surrounding coast with the Whitsunday Rent A Yacht base and jetty in the foreground

Sailor's secret:

The last ferry returns to the mainland at 6pm, setting the scene for a tranquil night in Shute Harbour. For dinner, cast a line for reef fish such as coral trout, red emperor or sweetlip right off your boat.

Features:

Home to Whitsunday Rent A Yacht, Shute Harbour is the focal point of communications between the mainland and the Whitsunday Islands. Protected in all weathers, it's the best mainland natural harbour along this stretch of Queensland coast. There are multiple national parks walks departing various points around Shute Harbour and a couple of jetties to stroll.
 

Gulnare Inlet
Gulnare Inlet
A man and woman paddling a kayak through aqua water by a sandy tropical island

Sailor's secret:

For a true wilderness experience, wait for high tide to take your dinghy or kayak and meander up the mangroves for several kilometres till you reach the foothills of the mountain.

Features:

A giant fiord-like anchorage which is shallow in parts, it's essential to enter on a rising tide. There is room for a number of vessels here and being so protected, along with its proximity to Hamilton Island, it's popular. It's possible to travel kilometres up the estuary by dinghy or kayak to see estuarine habitats and mangrove wetlands.

Hill Inlet
Hill Inlet
Hill Inlet

Sailor's secret:

To fully appreciate Hill Inlet at the end of Whitehaven Beach, view it from Tongue Point on Whitsunday Island when the tide is low and the colours merge to create a stunning kaleidoscope.

Features:

The walking track from Tongue Bay gives access to some of the beautiful beaches at the inlet's entrance. The inlet is also an important resting place for migratory wading birds that come from as far as arctic climes to fossick on the sandy foreshores. It's classified as protected and restrictions on access may be imposed at times for environmental management.

Tongue Bay
Tongue Bay
Hill Inlet in Whitehaven Bay.

Sailor's secret:

Walk in famous footsteps. The seaplane chase in the 2008 movie Fool’s Gold – about a couple searching for lost treasure – starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson was filmed here.

Features:

Access the walking trail to the viewing platform overlooking amazing Hill Inlet, one of the most spectacular views in the Whitsundays. Experience the picture-perfect turquoise waters and white silica sand that has become the trademark of the Whitsunday Islands. You're likely to see lagoon rays and green sea turtles bobbing in the clear waters. It's an incredible sunset location.

Cid Harbour
Cid Harbour
Aerial view over Cid Harbour and the surrounding lush hills of Whitsunday Island

Sailor's secret:

A brilliant fishing spot with the right ingredients of smooth current and clear waters for good, easy fishing for beginners and experienced alike.

Features:

Just two hours' sailing from Shute Harbour, it's a popular first-night anchorage. A great all-weather location, it was occasionally used by the navy during World War II. The main anchorage, at Sawmill Beach, is off a shoaling sandy beach edged with reef. Climb through the rainforest to the top of the 437-metre high Whitsunday Peak. Watch for majestic sea eagles swooping for small fish.

Bauer Bay
Bauer Bay
View across the turquoise waters and green hills of Bauer Bay on South Molle Island in the Whitsundays

Sailor's secret:

Anchor on the eastern side and take the picturesque walk up to Spion Kop – voted the Top Island Walk of Queensland by National Geographic.

Features:

Home to Koala Adventure Island Resort, it's the best anchorage to explore the many kilometres of national park walking tracks on South Molle Island. Moorings are available in the resort marina for a fee, but you can also anchor on the eastern side of the jetty and access the walking tracks - including those to Spion Kop viewing platform and Mount Jeffreys - at no cost. If visiting the resort, make radio contact and announce your arrival before going ashore.

Macona Inlet
Macona Inlet
A pair of Rainbow Bee-Eaters perched together on a branch over the water

Sailor's secret:

A sister bay to Nara Inlet, Macona receives more afternoon sunlight – perfect for prolonging the day. Its unusual sand is also full of trapped air that releases when you stand on it.

Features:

Macona provides protection in most weather conditions and is a fiord-like recess, surrounded by wooded hills. There are numerous sandy beaches to explore, including one on the north side that's perfect for sunset drinks and nibbles. In the water, look for multi-coloured fish, turtles and the odd seahorse. Abundant birdlife is best viewed from the many bushwalking tracks.

Nara Inlet
Nara Inlet
Aerial view of yachts in Nara Inlet and the surrounding lush hills of Hook Island in the Whitsundays

Sailor's secret:

A good night’s sleep is guaranteed at Nara which locals say is the most calm and tranquil anchorage in the Whitsundays. Great for safe harbour during windy weather.

Features:

Nara Inlet is a deep, fiord-like inlet stretching three kilometres with steep, heavily wooded embankments. It's very protected and suitable as an overnight anchorage in all weather. If there have been recent showers, small waterfalls tumble down the rocky faces. Take a short bushwalk to Ngaro Cultural Site, a rock shelter containing art and cultural deposits of the Ngaro people, the original inhabitants of the Whitsundays tracing origins back 8,000 years.

Hayman Island
Hayman Island
View of pools and surrounding decks at One&Only Hayman Island resort

Sailor's secret:

Check out Hayman’s unusually shaped swimming pool – the largest in the southern hemisphere, estimated to be the size of seven Olympic pools.

Features:

Hayman Island is the home of Australia's most awarded luxury nature resort - the five-star Hayman Island Resort. Prior bookings are essential if you're planning on visiting, whether for an overnight stay or day trip. There is no overnight berthing allowed in the marina - you must stay within the resort. Day visitors are permitted on the island between 10am and 3pm at specified times during the year. Island dress and conduct standards apply.

Chance Bay
Chance Bay
Aerial view over the two bays of Chance Bay and surrounding forested hills of Whitsunday Island

Sailor's secret:

If you’re visiting in the cooler months, watch for the dazzling white pied imperial pigeon which migrates from Papua New Guinea to lay a single egg.

Features:

A double bay with two beautiful sand beaches, there's good snorkelling around the reef and the little islet on the western side. Part of the Ngaro Sea Trail leads from Chance Bay to Whitehaven Beach, passing through some of the Whitsunday's finest forest and woodland, then joining the Solway Circuit track to Whitehaven.

Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay
View across aqua waters surrounded by lush hills of Turtle Bay, Whitsunday Island

Sailor's secret:

Explore the tiny coves and bays at this pretty bay while cicadas and other tropical insects provide the background music. Watch for manta rays skimming the surface.

Features:

Turtle Bay, at the base of Whitsunday Island, has a series of beautiful bays east of Fitzalan Passage. It's recommended for a lunchtime stopover depending on the season. There are some pretty beaches to explore and good coral snorkelling over the reef on the eastern side. Expect to see fish of varied sizes feeding in the shelter. Or, take in the wonderful views over Whitsunday Island, the largest in the Whitsunday group.
 

Whitehaven
Whitehaven
View along the white sand on Whitehaven Beach to aqua water and nearby islands

Sailor's secret:

Whitehaven is said to contain 800 million cubic metres of 98 per cent white silica sand – among the most pure on earth. Perfect for giving jewellery a shine or using as a natural exfoliate.

Features:

Whitehaven Beach is the most photographed beach in Australia and was named 'Travellers' Choice' for beaches in Australia by Trip Advisor in 2013. Stroll six kilometres of pure white silica sand, take a picnic, enjoy a game of beach cricket or a swim in the turquoise waters.

Chalkies Beach
Chalkies Beach
Three children lying on Chalkies Beach in snorkels, masks and flippers

Sailor's secret:

The white powdery sand of Chalkies was the inspiration for the name Chalkie given to a baby male white whale first spotted in the Whitsundays in late 2011.

Features:

Known as 'little Whitehaven', Chalkies Beach on Haslewood Island has the same white silica sand as Whitehaven Beach - remains of the volcanic rocks of the island's interior. The water is usually clear and the fringing coral reef just offshore provides some great snorkelling with amazing coral and colourful small fish. The beach is a beautiful place to spend the day.

 

Cateran Bay
Cateran Bay
Walker on the grassy island ridge, Mosstrooper Peak, that overlooks Cateran Bay on Border Island

Sailor's secret:

With its eucalypt forest and lush slopes, this remote and private bay on Border Island is a designated green zone. Put it on your itinerary if you’re looking for a romantic or secluded spot.

Features:

Cateran Bay is a great spot for lunch followed by a walk to the top of the grassy island ridge, Mosstrooper Peak and 360-degree views of the area.  On the northern side, the bay is protected from trade winds and offers excellent snorkelling. Reef protection buoys have been installed to prevent damage to the fringing reef.

Stonehaven
Stonehaven
Silhouette of moored yacht and dinghy at sunset

Sailor's secret:

The pick of three anchorages for shelter during strong southerlies is between Ian Point and Anchor Point where there are two public moorings.

Features:

Stonehaven is an expansive three-kilometre long open bay with a mountain range to the east and the best sunsets in the Whitsundays on the west. There are some great snorkelling spots with interesting shallow diving and small marine life including damselfishes, Christmas-tree worms and nudibranches. Watch for dolphins frolicking or nosing around your boat at dusk. Visibility below water is very much controlled by the tides - check your 100 Magic Miles.

Langford Island
Langford Island
Aerial view of Langford Island in the Whitsundays with yacht offshore

Sailor's secret:

When the sun disappears, you’re guaranteed some stunning tropical sunset images. As it darkens, the lights of Hayman Island provide a twinkling backdrop to the Whitsunday skies.

Features:

Langford Island is a delightful day-time stopover with the reef and sand spit emerging at low tide and disappearing at high tide. The long sand spit is a great exploration, picnic and sunbathing spot. Diving is sensational with easy, beach-water entry - perfect for first-time scuba divers. Best diving is on the north-west end where scattered bommies offer an interesting maze. There are a few shallow walls at the eastern end of the island too. The abundant fish life is mostly small.

Blue Pearl Bay
Blue Pearl Bay
Wallaby

Sailor's secret:

Look for the shy and endangered Prosperpine rock-wallaby which sometimes hides out in the bushy areas

Features:

Blue Pearl Bay offers a superb overnight anchorage and some of the best snorkelling and diving in the Whitsundays. The water is deep, just off the fringing reef, gradually shelving to the shore as it meanders around countless bommies and coral ledges. Snorkelling and diving is best around Dolphin Point. There is a channel which allows dinghy access to the beach - a great spot for beginner snorkellers to enter the water from shore.

Butterfly Bay
Butterfly Bay
Ulysses butterfly flying over magenta bougainvillaea flowers

Sailor's secret:

Perfect for spotting the majestic blue Ulysses butterfly with a wingspan of up to nine centimetres. Butterflies can be seen from latitude 20°04'24 S and longitude 148°55'55 E.

 

 

Features:

 

 

A one-kilometre long, cosy bay which offers protection from south-east trade winds. There are nine public moorings situated to minimise impact to the reef in this sensitive ecological area. Snorkel along the bayside of Alcyonaria Point, named for the abundance of that coral there, or go just off the beach and marvel at the many species of small colourful fish. If you venture ashore and explore the creeks at certain times of the year, the bush is clouded with thousands of blue butterflies.

Maureen's Cove
Maureen's Cove
Head of a lace monitor

Sailor's secret:

Enjoy uninterrupted views over a spectacular fringing reef to the Coral Sea. A great spot to watch for white-bellied sea eagles, lace monitors and brush turkeys.

Features:

The next bay to the east of Butterfly Bay and a snorkelling hot spot, reef protection buoys have been installed. A mooring is the best option if you have a choice. While snorkelling, you're likely to see some of the best coral on show in the Whitsundays, including large gorgonian fans near the point. There are two dive sites - one at the back of the bay and one known as Boulders on the eastern edge, which is also the best spot for snorkelling.

*Anchorage information courtesy of 'Whitsundays' Bible' 100 Magic Miles by David Colfelt

*Selected images courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland

*Sailor's secrets courtesy of Whitsunday Rent A Yacht.

*Read our recommended anchorages' itinerary for a 5 night charter (Download PDF)

*Read our recommended anchorages' itinerary for a 7 night charter (Download PDF)

*Read our recommended anchorages' itinerary for a 10+ night charter (Download PDF