Everything you need to know about bareboating with kids


Bareboating with kids in the Whitsundays is a family holiday full of connection, freedom and adventure.

Bareboating with kids in the Whitsundays is a family holiday full of connection, freedom and adventure.

The Whitsundays is the perfect location for bareboating with kids. The islands offer tranquil waters, safe harbours, beautiful weather, pristine environments and loads of opportunities for kid-friendly activities.

Bareboating is a family holiday which brings everyone together. You can tailor your trip to suit your interests, exploring the world-class Whitsundays at your own pace and in your own way.

In this post, we go through common questions travelling families ask our team, including safety considerations, experience concerns and ways to keep the kids happy on and off the boat.

bareboating with kids

Why is Bareboating a great family holiday?

The term bareboat refers to a yacht that doesn’t come with a crew. In other words, it’s a charter yacht you skipper yourself, and it’s incredibly adventurous.

Unplugging from screens, living on the ocean, and exploring tropical islands or even holiday resort islands is loads of fun for kids. And as every parent knows, when the kids are happy, entertained and worn out at the end of the day – it’s a great holiday!

Many of our charterers are families and groups of families who are friends. It’s not uncommon to see three generations or two families with kids hire a catamaran.

If you’re planning on sharing a yacht with another family, per head, it works out to be a very cost-effective holiday.

Bareboating family holidays are about:


When you go bareboating there are activities for everyone to enjoy. You’re not just going sailing, you are also going snorkelling, fishing, paddling, hiking and exploring secluded beaches. If you’re in the Whitsundays, you might even enjoy some resort hoping too.

Check out this list of things to do around the Whitsundays.


Taking your family on a yacht charter is the ultimate bonding experience. You’re all together, away from the stresses of everyday life and away from technology. A bareboat family holiday is centred around running a boat and keeping everything “ship-shape” – the type of thing that brings everyone together.


Unlike going to a resort or hiring a holiday house, when you hire a private yacht, you can see different places from the comfort of your own mobile home on the water.
One of our recent charters said the most challenging decision was choosing if they would stay another day at the beautiful beach they were already on or move around the corner to a new one.


bareboating with kids on beach

What’s the best age to take the kids on a yacht charter?

There’s no age limit for bringing children on a bareboating holiday, and it’s possible to enjoy a sailing holiday with children of any age.

Sailing with teenagers

While some teenagers may scoff at being on a boat with mum and dad, they will be surprised at how much they enjoy the experience.

Sailing is an activity that gets the adrenaline going and gives a massive sense of accomplishment. It is also an activity a teenager can be in control of. We highly recommend that teenagers be involved in the boat briefing; They are extremely valuable crew members.

Sailing with primary school-age kids

Primary school age is the best age for bareboating! They love being involved and feeling like they have meaningful tasks, not to mention all of the activities they can do, such as snorkelling, jumping off the boat and kayaking.

Sailing with babies and toddlers

Understandably, many families wanting to bareboat with a toddler are concerned if their little ones will be safe. Adult supervision is always required on a boat, so you will need to allocate a crew member to babysit.

We have found that the younger kids are the most adaptable and are happy to go on any adventure as their family is with them and still in their sleep routines.

As a bonus, from all reports, young kids sleep well on boats; the rocking has a calming effect.

Kids sailing holiday

What’s the best boat to hire for a bareboating family holiday?

You will need to decide between a monohull sailing yacht or a catamaran for your bareboat adventure.

Most families prefer to hire catamarans because they offer more space on deck. You will find that a catamaran is also more stable with a larger enclosed deck space. Kids will also love hanging out on the trampoline.

You may be thinking that a sailing yacht is a small space, and it could be challenging to have everyone living on top of each other, but you’ll be spending most of your days off the boat and doing activities so you will be able to give each additional space. Yachts are more cost effective than catamarans.


Does our family need to know how to sail?

A bareboating holiday can be tailored to suit any level of sailing experience. Before you take the yacht on your charter, you’re briefed by a professional who will provide you with easy-to-follow instructions. You will also be given constant radio support throughout your trip.


If you have sailed before and love the adventurous, liveaboard lifestyle then bareboating in the Whitsundays is the holiday for you and your family.

Not Experienced

If no one in your family has ever sailed, it’s best if you choose a motor cruiser or a catamaran. You don’t need to sail the boat; you can simply cruise with the motor.

If you are still unsure about your ability to manage a bareboat yacht, you can hire a professional sail guide to take you out for a day or two. Or you can find a local sailing school and learn the basics of sailing before your bareboat holiday.

Talk to our friendly staff, and we will be able to adapt your charter to help you feel at ease.

trip in a van whitsundays

Is Bareboating with kids safe?

Bareboating is an activity that is safe if you have clear safety parameters in place for your family.

Communicating about safety is important. You could start talking with your kids about safety on boats before your trip. Take them through their own safety briefing when you first get on your charter yacht. If necessary, you could also have a mini safety meeting each morning over breakfast to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Teach children respect for the ocean, wind and surrounding elements.  Don’t scare them, but remind the kids that falling into the ocean from a boat is not the same as into a pool.

General rules for sailing with kids:

  • All children under 12 must wear a life jacket when on deck or stepping outside the saloon area.
  • We provide children’s life jackets in sizes – 10-15kgs; 15-25kgs and 25–40kgs  (these are free of charge, but must be ordered in advance)
  • No children on the foredeck when under sail unless accompanied by an adult.
  • If the weather is too rough, kids stay in the saloon or in their cabins.  They may find themselves more comfortable in the saloon where they can see outside and it is generally the smoothest ride.
  • Have the older children ensure their younger siblings are wearing their life jackets correctly and make them in charge of ensuring this.  It provides the older child with a sense of responsibility.
  • While at the dock, explore the vessel with the children and explain the different boat terms, show them the handgrips and handrails.  Have them practice moving around the boat whilst holding on using the age old saying – one hand for you, one hand for the boat.

Tips for chartering with younger children (under 6):

  • Explain the preparation process from sailing to anchoring procedures. This enables the kids to understand the times you may be busy and unable to ‘jump’ to their commands.  Have them assist where they can so they feel involved.
  • Place your child in your lap whilst you’re steering (conditions permitted) and explain what you doing and what you are looking out for.  Ask them to let you know if another boat is nearing which will make them feel important.
  • Explain the functions of the main parts of the vessel and why it is important.  Then have them explain it to one of their siblings.
  • Show some knot tying skills and ask the kids to utilise have a go.
  • Point out the different fish species that they have seen after snorkelling and talk about them. There is a book called 100 Magic Miles on board your vessel which has a fish identifying chart.
  • Have your children clean and tidy their own quarters every morning explaining that a tidy boat is a safe boat.

Tips for chartering with children aged 6 and above:

  • Include your child in the navigation planning for the following day.  Listen to their suggestions and explain why it may be a good idea or not such a good idea.
  • Whilst underway, have your child assist with steering with you whilst explaining how the wind is working with the sails, the compass and the wind direction indicator.
  • Show them how to use the equipment, such as the head. Ask the child to help with the winches and coil the lines to put away in the bags when the sailing is done.
  • Get them involved in speaking over the radio, advising of your location for the day and night!
  • Older children should be quite capable of being able to steer the tender so let them do this and give them the title of ‘Tender Captain’.


Fishing kids Whitsundays bareboat

Activities for kids living on a boat

  • Pack a few boards and card games to play in the evening. Uno is always a winner!
  • Give the kids a waterproof camera
  • Do a holiday scavenger hunt. Hand out lists of nautical objects you’re likely to see during your trip to everyone on board – the winner is the first person who spots all the items. This website has some more scavenger hunt inspiration.
  • Plan to dress up and talk like pirates for a day!
  • Do a treasure hunt on board your vessel – or at the beach
  • On a warm night, camp on the deck under the stars
  • Bring colouring books and pencils. You can download these boat-themed colouring pages and print them out for your trip.
  • Some people bring remote control boats for the “kids”, but honestly, the adults seem to have more fun with them.

What things are there to do in the Whitsundays with kids?

One of the reasons the Whitsundays are such a fantastic family holiday destination is because of the countless things there are to do around the Islands. Plan a kid-friendly itinerary and ask the kids for their input, making sure there are lots of activities planned for off the boat. If you bring the kids in early to the conversation they will get very excited about the trip.

Your kids will enjoy:

  1. Staying at the Hamilton Island Marina – giving access to the resort facilities including the pools
  2. Visiting the Hamilton Island Wildlife Park, going to the bowling alley or enjoying many more family friendly activities on Hamilton Island
  3. Experiencing Whitehaven Beach and the famous Hill Inlet Lookout
  4. Rainforest walks and hiking trails with views of the islands. In the wetter months, plan to visit some of the waterfalls.
  5. Snorkelling – Check out this post on the 10 best spots to snorkel in the Whitsundays
  6. Fishing off the boat or on the beach. We’ve pulled together a list of fishing spots around the islands.
  7. Stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking – you will need to hire these as extras with your booking
  8. Whale watching from June to September
  9. Scuba diving for kids aged 13 and up

Where can we stay with the kids in Airlie Beach after our charter?

There are many family accommodation options in Airlie Beach, but the place that most families rave about is The Big 4 Adventure Park. It’s been voted one of the best kid-friendly resorts in Australia. The water park is full of slides and pools for all ages, there are mini-golf, an animal farm and daily activities. It’s the perfect place to keep the kids entertained so the parents can relax.

You won’t be short of things to do in Airlie Beach with lots of free activities around town for the kids. We’ve also listed some of our local tips on our top 10 restaurants in Airlie Beach.

Bareboating in the Whitsundays is a fantastic family holiday full of new experiences and adventure. Please let us know if you have any questions about taking your kids on a Bareboating charter; we love supporting several generations to experience the Whitsundays together.

Tips for Sailing with Kids Safely

Tips for Sailing with Kids Safely

Sailing with kids on a bareboat charter is a fantastic way to bond as a family, offering quality time away from screens and creating unforgettable memories. With proper planning and a few simple rules, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone on...

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Whitsunday Rent a Yacht acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and in particular the Traditional Owners of the Whitsunday's Region, the Gia, Juru and Ngaro People; We recognise their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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