Boat hire in the Whitsundays: advice from bareboaters


We surveyed, interviewed and spoke to guests who have hired a boat in the Whitsundays to get their top tips.

There are several options for boat hire in the Whitsundays; bareboat hire, skippered charters, drive-yourself day boat hire and tours.

If you want the freedom to explore the islands over several days at your own pace, then the best type of boat hire in the Whitsundays is bareboat.

Bareboating is when you skipper yourself on a hired catamaran or yacht for several days. The vessel comes fully equipped; you need to bring your items. It’s like hiring a motor home for a road trip, except you’re cruising around tropical islands.

If the idea of bareboating is not appealing to you, you may like to consider other boat hire options from Airlie Beach.

Whitsundays Boat hire

Whitsundays Boat Hire

While the idea of taking out a catamaran or yacht for a sailing holiday without a professional crew can seem a little overwhelming, there are many protocols in place to ensure all charterers are comfortable and safe on the water.

We strive to find ways to prepare and put our guests at ease. In this article, we’ve spoken to people who have been bareboating in the Whitsundays before because the best tips come from those who have done it.

Can I really hire a boat in the Whitsundays and take it out on my own?

Many people are surprised to learn that you and your friends or family can take a fully equipped, high-end catamaran out without a skipper and operate it yourselves.

Bareboating is almost a holiday concept that’s too good to be true!

In the Whitsundays, you don’t need a license to hire a bareboat.

There are license requirements for hiring a drive-yourself day boat from Airlie Beach Boat Hire. To learn more about boat hire options and tour operators, we recommend reading Airlie Beach Boat Hire, Different ways to explore the Coral Sea.

If you had one piece of advice to share about hiring a bareboat in the Whitsundays, what would it be?

On social Media, we asked: What is your top tip for someone new to bareboating in the Whitsundays? And we got some great answers!

“Do a little research so you know where places are you want to visit. Then you can make a plan. Remember the plan may change due to weather and tide. Your briefer will guide you, but they need some indication of what you want from your holiday.”

– Julie Hand

“Take a bunch of friends and hire a few boats. We’ve done it twice, and each time was such fun! Such a beautiful way to see this special part of the world.”.

– Deborah Pinn

Do it with your besties.”

– Cathy Cassell

“Just book! It was the best family holiday. We can’t wait to come back.”

– Shallon Garton

“14 days minimum.”

– Steve Burton

“My wife and I rented a yacht for a week a few years ago. It was one of the greatest experiences. I would suggest everyone should experience a yacht cruise around the Whitsundays at least once in their lives.”

– Warran Low

“Pack light, lots of sunscreen, meal planning!”

– Laura Dent

Whitsunday Boat Hire

Tips after a girls-only sailing trip

We created a case study based on a Girls sailing trip Elara and her friends enjoyed in 2021.

Elara shares…

“We just did four nights. Seven nights I think would be perfect, or even longer.

We booked three extra hours of training in addition to the standard four-hour briefing, which was helpful.

Start the conversation NOW because the longer you wait while sitting hunched over your desk, the further you are away from an adventure with your best friends and a piña colada in your hand!”

Whitsunday Boat Hire

Sage advice from experienced bareboaters

Margaret and Shane have been bareboating in the Whitsundays for years. Margaret attributes the couple’s chartering success to the fact she’s an avid reader and likes to research places before she visits them.

“I think if you read about boating in the Whitsundays before you come and particularly if you can get hold of David Colfelt’s 100 Magic Miles, that’s the best preparation you can do,” she said.

“And get the right food!” Shane added.

Shane and Margaret shop online with Coles long before their plane has even touched down on the Whitsunday coast.

Over the years, they’ve collected phone numbers for a few local taxi drivers, and on the way to the Whitsunday Rent A Yacht base in Shute Harbour, they usually swing past Coles to pick their ‘click and collect’ shopping order up.

Boat deck

What I would do differently next time…

Robyn and her husband Ian chartered GiGi for their first bareboating holiday.

Robyn says “I wish we had done more research on the attractions and sights around the Islands. We missed the artwork in Nara Inlet, which I would have loved to see. I’m also more interested in hikes and landscapes, whereas Ian is more into fishing. I think we should have researched the different places that would suit both of our interests.

We still had a fantastic time, but chartering in the Whitsundays is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, so it’s worth doing some preparation before you go.”

Top boat hire tips from Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

Whitsunday Rent a Yacht has been hiring out boats since the 70s. We’ve seen it all! Even if you’ve chartered before, there are always some tips to take on. 

  1. Keep an open, flexible mind. The wind conditions will influence where you can go and what you can see. There is so much beauty and adventure to be had in the Whitsundays; even if things don’t go exactly to plan, you will likely be pleasantly surprised. 
  2. Hire a boat for more than five nights to get the most out of your trip. The first day is training, and on the last day, you need to return your boat in the morning, so it’s nice to have a few days on either side to explore and relax.
  3. Organise provisioning with a local provisioning company if you can. Many people book partial provisionings such as some ready-made meals and a seafood platter. 
  4. Book Insurance
  5. Look at how you can prepare your crew to sail and if there are any skills you can brush up on before your trip, such as anchoring or reading maps. Some local areas run sailing courses aimed at those going on a bareboat charter.



Why provision for your Whitsundays holiday

Why provision for your Whitsundays holiday

Several Whitsunday provisioning companies cater for holidays and specialise in bareboat charters. They all offer flexible packages which can be customised to fit the budget-conscious or those who want to indulge. While provision might at first seem like a luxury, it...

* indicates required


Get In Touch

1800 075 000

+61 7 4946 9232


6 Bay Terrace
Shute Harbour QLD 4802

Office Hours

8am - 5pm Weekdays
8am - 4pm Weekends
8am - 4pm Public holidays

Ready to Explore?

Ask us anything in the form below. If you want to get a quote or make a booking,  please use our booking enquiry form.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Sign up to our newsletter

* indicates required



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.

Call Now Button