Whitehaven Beach, located in the Whitsunday Islands, lies within the Great Barrier Reef National Marine Park and is a protected world heritage site. This pristine environment continuously gets voted one of the best beaches in the world, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
In this post, we’ll go through how to visit the beach on a day trip or bareboat charter, Whitehaven attractions and logistical tips.
What is there to see and do at Whitehaven Beach?
Whitehaven Beach is indeed a white haven. Its 98% white silica sand juxtaposed with bright, clear turquoise water coupled with its pristine location makes Whitehaven breathtaking.
Once you’ve recovered from taking in the beauty, consider filling your visit with these activities.
Swim in the pristine ocean
The first thing you will want to do when you visit Whitehaven is taking a dip in the crystal clear ocean.
It’s possible to swim at Whitehaven Beach year-round thanks to the tropical waters sitting at a delightful 26 degrees.
The shores are shallow, making Whitehaven a safe beach to swim off. With no significant rips or swells to worry about, and the water temperature is delightfully tropical.
Safety Note: If you’re swimming, please check if it’s stinger season and take the necessary precautions.
Snorkel at Chance Bay
Whitehaven is not well known for snorkelling because it lacks fringing reefs. You can look under the surface to spot the occasional fish or turtle on the sandy bottom, but for the best snorkelling take a short walk to Chance Bay.
You can access the Chance Bay walking track from the southern end of Whitehaven.
The secluded waters of Chance Bay are home to many turtles, with Green, Fatback and Hawksbill sea turtles calling the area home.
Snorkel the fringing reefs and also try around the small islet.
Visit the Hill Inlet Lookout
The view over Hill Inlet is the most famous vista in the Whitsundays.
From the Northern end of Whitehaven Beach take a short 20-minute hike up to the viewing platforms. As you look down over the North end of the beach, you will see where the shifting tides create swirling layers of white sand and turquoise water.
The best time to see the iconic patterns in the inlet is mid-tide, but the view is fantastic at any time.
If you’re on a bareboat charter arriving via Tongue Bay, boats should come in on the high tide. As you walk up to the lookout, watch the information signs dotted along the way.
Take in the Silica White Sand
The sand is perhaps the most striking feature of Whitehaven. It’s delicate and pure and probably the whitest sand you will ever see.
Silica sand is made of pure quartz, reflecting the sun and not retaining heat.
Walking along the 7-kilometre sandy stretch, note how the sand squeaks under your feet. Whitehaven Beach was once known as the ‘Whispering Sands’ by its traditional owners, the Ngaro people.
Many people bring their jewellery to Whitehaven to polish using the famously fine sand.
Hike on some of the Whitehaven Trails
You can do several walking tracks on your trip to Whitehaven Beach.
The most famous hike is to the viewing platforms overlooking Hill Inlet at Whitehaven’s northern end. Take the beach track with Tongue Bay access and veer off to the Hill Inlet Track – a 700m loop passing three lookout points over the swirling sands.
On the beach’s southern end, there is a 3 km walk to Chance Bay, a stunning cove with some great snorkelling if you want to put a mask and snorkel in your backpack.
The 1.2km Solway Circuit loop walk, also found on the southern end of Whitehaven, will take you to another stunning view. You can join the Whitehaven Beach Headland track from this vantage point, a 400m loop that will eventually take you back down onto Whitehaven.
Camp at Whitehaven Beach
When you camp at Whitehaven, you wake up and have the beach all to yourself. There is a camping spot on the southern end of the beach with picnic tables and toilets.
Chance Bay also has a campsite for eight people; this spot can be accessed from your yacht or the walking tracks starting at Whitehaven. We think it’s one of the best camping spots around the Islands, again picnic tables and outhouse toilets are provided.
There is no running water on the island, and campfires are strictly prohibited. You will need to bring everything with you.
Book your campsite online with national parks or through our neighbours at Shute Harbour, Scamper Island Transfers.
Escape Crowds on Betty’s Beach
On the north end of Whitehaven, there is a secret little cove with the same white sand.
Follow the coastline to your left, and you’ll come to some rocks, it might seek like you can’t go any further but climb over, and you’ll see Betty’s Beach. This place is a secluded oasis. You will probably have it all to yourself.
Betty’s Beach is a sacred site for traditional owners. Women are said to have used the area around Betty’s Beach for birth (if anyone knows more about this please get in touch).
Which Island is Whitehaven Beach located?
Whitehaven Beach is on the Western side of Whitsunday Island, the biggest island out of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. It’s not part of the Great Barrier Reef but sits within the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef National Marine Park.
Weather at Whitehaven
Whitehaven Beach is in Queensland’s sub-tropical climate, with temperatures averaging between 23-30 degrees Celsius, or about 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
The wet season runs over summer and winter is a dryer time of year with slightly cooler yet sunny conditions. It’s ok to visit Whitehaven at any time of year.
For more info on the weather in the Whitsundays, check out our blog post: When is the best time to visit the Whitsundays?
How to get to Whitehaven Beach
There are two ways to get to Whitehaven, by boat or a scenic flight. Boats are the most popular transport form, with many day tours running from Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island.
Most tours to Whitehaven are eco-certified. To make sure everyone who visits Whitehaven gets to experience its beauty, tour operators stagger their timings so guests have plenty of space.
The best way to experience Whitehaven is from a bareboat. See below.
Can you get to Whitehaven Beach without a tour?
If you want to avoid tours altogether, you must hire a skipper yourself boat.
It’s also possible to arrange private tours. We recommend Mars Charters and Whitsunday Paradise Explorer, which offer private charters for small groups. You can customise your trip out to the islands and Whitehaven to suit what you feel on the day.
How to visit Whitehaven Beach on a bareboat charter
A bareboat self-sail yacht charter is the best way to visit Whitehaven Beach. Bareboat charters will allow you to experience a side of this famous beach that day-trippers don’t get the opportunity to enjoy.
Whitehaven stretches for an uninterrupted 7-kilometres, so bareboat visitors should have the opportunity to find a slice of paradise away from crowds. But to get the beach to yourself, it’s best to wake up early or save your visit for the afternoon. Early birds should try and get up to Hill Inlet lookout before the tours start.
The best anchorages near Whitehaven
For those cruising the Whitsunday Islands on a private yacht, you can visit as a day activity or spend the evening either at Whitehaven or a nearby bay.
Chance Bay is a beautiful little spot tucked around the corner from Whitehaven. You can take a 3km hike from Chance Bay over to Whitehaven when you go ashore.
Probably the most popular overnight anchorage for those visiting Whitehaven, Tongue Bay is a sheltered anchorage at the northern end of Whitehaven Beach. From here, take a 700-meter hike up to the famous Hill Inlet lookout.
The most protected anchorage for staying overnight at Whitehaven is at the southern end of the beach, adjacent to Chalkies. When you anchor your vessel at Whitehaven, you can watch the sunset over Whitsunday Island and the sunrise over Chalkies Beach on Haslewood. Check the wind conditions before staying here, as it can be exposed.
To learn more about anchorage, navigation, wind and tide tips for getting your boat into Whitehaven, check out a post in our post on sailing to Whitehaven Beach.
Seeing Whitehaven from the Air
Air Whitsunday Seaplanes offer several scenic flights featuring Whitehaven Beach and direct flights to the beach. When you do a direct tour to Whitehaven, your seaplane will land in a secluded section of the beach where you can relax sunbathing, swimming and exploring the remarkable pure silica sand.
If you’re not fortunate enough to take a scenic flight, enjoy this video from Riptide Creative of aerial shots from above Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven beach is pristine National parkland and an incredible place to visit on a bareboat charter or day trip. If you want to experience Whitehaven through a private yacht charter, please contact the Whitsunday Rent a Yacht team.