The Best Island in the Whitsundays: Whitsunday Island


The Whitsundays Islands are an archipelago group of 74 islands providing a huge range of natural diversity. Picking the best Whitsunday Island is not an easy task!

A recent guest asked us what we think the best Whitsunday Island is. For a moment, we were stumped. There are, after all, 74 Islands in the Whitsundays. And each one is unique and wonderfully beautiful in a tropical paradise sort of way.

Asking a local who loves this part of the world to pick their best Whitsunday island is like asking them to pick their favourite child! But we’ve taken the challenge on.

Using a process of illimination, we determined our best Whitsunday island by considering these factors:

  • Suited for bareboat charter visitors
  • A range of anchorage options offering protection from different winds
  • Secluded bays and natural beauty which feel off the beaten path
  • Famous attractions
  • Great hikes through diverse landscapes and up to stunning views
  • Snorkelling and diving sites

Whitsunday Island the best whitsunday island

The Best Whitsunday Islands is… Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island is the largest (275.08 km2 in area), the most central island. Surrounded by several smaller islands, Whitsunday Island is fantastic to hike with interesting outlooks from various vantage points.

Home to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet, the most famous locations in the islands, many day visitors take tours to Whitsunday Island to see these main attractions and to get a taste of island life.

Overnight sailors will have the opportunity to take advantage of Whitsunday Island’s sheltered anchorages, snorkelling, fishing and fantastic hikes, particularly from Cid Harbour and Whitehaven.

Whitsunday Island also has six campgrounds and retains complete natural beauty without any hotels or resorts.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is an Australian natural icon. Considered one of the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven is a stunning 7-kilometre stretch of pure white silica sand along the eastern side of Whitsunday Island.

Silica sand is a very pure form of sand made from quartz. The grains are extremely fine, and as a result, the sand is like silk to touch and is said to be great for polishing jewelry. The sun bleaches Whitehaven’s sand to become even whiter so that it reflects heat, making the beach perfect to walk along barefoot.

Many day tours visit Whitehaven. Those lucky enough to be visiting by private boat will find an anchorage at the southern end of Whitehaven.

There are two hikes to enjoy from the beach. From the southern end, you can do the 3km hike to Chance Bay or the 1.3 km Solway Circuit Loop.

The best Whitsunday Island Whitehaven Beach

Tongue Bay to Hill Inlet Lookout

Tongue Bay is a popular overnight anchorage for those who want an alternative anchorage close to Whitehaven or for those who wish to access the famous Hill Inlet view early or later in the day.

Take the 1.3km walking trail from Tongue Bay up over Tongue Point and to the viewing platforms over Hill Inlet. Along the trail, keep an eye out for the turnoff to Betty’s Beach, a stunning protected cove to enjoy a dip.

The Hill Inlet vista is considered the most famous, if not the best, Whitsunday Island view. As the tide changes, so do the patterns made by the turquoise waters and sand throughout the shallow inlet, creating an ever-changing landscape to enjoy.

Best Whitsunday Island Hill Inlet

Chance Bay

On the southern end of Whitsunday Island, facing south towards Pentecost Island, Chance Bay is a fantastic secluded cove with overnight anchorage and camping options.

Chance is a double bay with two soft sandy beaches to choose from. The kids will feel safe here and can practice snorkelling in waters deep enough to stand in.

Hike from Chance Bay to Whitehaven Beach or along the Solway Circuit through some of the best examples of forest found on the Whitsunday Islands.

Chance Bay Best Whitsunday Island

Cairn Beach

Cain Beach is located on the northern part of Whitsunday Island, facing Hook Island.

There’s a secluded campground among the forest with a coral beach and rock pools to comb. The best snorkelling site is at the southeast end of Cairn Beach.

Take a hike along the Whitsunday Cain track, part of the Ngaro Sea Trail, and head for the Cairn lookout, which provides breathtaking views from the rocky summit over the islands.

Cid Harbour’s famous Whitsunday Peak hike

Cid Harbour is an extensive harbour on the western side of Whitsunday Island. There are several protected bays with overnight anchorages, great fishing and two popular walking trails.

Overnight anchoring is possible at Dugong Inlet, Sawmill Bay and Hughes Point.

Dugong Beach within Cid Harbour is a beautiful spot with a campsite and facilities. Take the easy 1-kilometre track along the coast from Dugong to Sawmill Beach and enjoy how the forest meets the beach.

Access to the famous, or is it “infamous” Whitsunday Peak trail is from Sawmill Beach. This is a hike not for the fainthearted, reaching 437 m sea level; Whitsunday Peak is known as the Roof of the Whitsundays. It goes without saying the views are jaw-dropping.

Please note that swimming is not permitted in Cid Harbour. Visitors are advised to be Sharksmart.

Best Whitsunday Island Cid Harbour

Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay is a fantastic anchorage to visit in northerlies. The Bay actually has five small beaches. Take the dinghy or kayak ashore at low tide and enjoy a secluded beach you will likely have to yourself.

Snorkelling within Turtle Bay is best done on the eastern side. Visibility will be best in neap tides and if the wind has been in the northern sectors for a day.

Named Turtle Bay for a reason, you have a good chance of spotting several different turtle species here.

Multiple campgrounds

There are six campgrounds on Whitsunday Island, making it one of the best places to camp in the Whitsundays. Surrounded by a blend of woodland and pine/palm forest and mainly positioned close to the beach, camping is fantastic to experience the islands.

Some of our charter guests send their teenagers ashore for a night of camping while the adults stay onboard.

All require booking in advance.

Campgrounds at:

  • Whitehaven Beach
  • Chance Bay
  • Dugong Beach
  • Naris Beach
  • Joes Beach
  • Cairn Beach

SCAMPER is a great company to talk to if you want to organise a camping trip on Whitsunday Island.

Best Whitsunday Island

If we’ve convinced you Whitsunday Island is the best island in the Whitsundays and you want to see it from your own private yacht, learn more about bareboating or get in touch.




Sail the Whitsundays and experience the best Whitsunday Island
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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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