If you're dreaming of a yacht charter in Australia, you can't surpass the world-class scenery and ideal sailing conditions in Queensland's Whitsundays.

The best place to charter a yacht in Australia


If you're dreaming of a yacht charter in Australia, you can't surpass the world-class scenery and ideal sailing conditions in Queensland's Whitsundays.

There are many places around the Australian coast to charter a yacht; however, few match the Whitsunday Islands’ convenience, conditions and beauty.

74 tropical islands make up an archipelago between the Mainland and the outer Great Barrier Reef. The islands are mostly uninhabited, with many offering pristine environments thanks to protection from long-standing National Park status. There are some island resorts, with Hamilton Island being the most accessible to those on a yacht charter.

The Whitsundays are an ideal location and backdrop for sailing, making them Australia’s yachting mecca and leading bareboat destination. If you’re planning a sailing holiday down under, this is the place!

In this post, we’ll touch on yacht charter destinations around Australia, why the Whitsundays are a stand-out sailing destination, and how to decide on and book a yacht charter that suits your crew.

yacht charter australia

What makes the Whitsundays the best place in Australia to charter a yacht?

The Whitsundays are safe and protected

The outer Great Barrier Reef acts as a barrier to large ocean swells. This means the islands are protected, and the waters are relatively calm.

Most anchorages are within 2 hours of each other, so there are plenty of opportunities to escape unfavourable winds and find a protected cove.

Experienced tourism industry

The Island’s proximity to the Mainland makes them easily accessible to holidaymakers, tourism operators and any help that may be needed.

Subtropical climate

Conditions are mild most of the year, and the waters are relatively warm.

Discover the pros and cons of seeing the Whitsundays at different times throughout the year.

There are so many things to do

On top of the scenery and sailing conditions, there are numerousthings to do around the islands. Diving, snorkelling, fishing, hiking and lazing by island resort pools can be enjoyed throughout your charter.

No licence is required to charter a yacht in Australia’s Whitsundays

Anyone can enjoy a sailing holiday in the Whitsundays because you don’t need a boat license to hire a yacht in the region.

Bareboat charter companies will train their guests on how to operate their vessels, with the option to add a sail guide for those who need to build their confidence.

An original Australian yacht charter company

Whitsunday Rent a Yacht is the original bareboat charter company in the Whitsundays. We’ve been operating from Shute Harbour since the late 70s, making us one of Australia’s longest-running yacht charter companies.

The two main yacht charter options: Skippered or Bareboat

With a destination decision made, you need to choose the type of sailing holiday you want – a skippered or bareboat charter, and you’ll probably want to find out the costs of a charter too.

Bareboat sailing holidays

Bareboat charters are sailing holidays without a professional crew. You skipper the boat yourself, giving you the freedom and flexibility to set your itinerary.

Pros of a bareboat holiday

  • Freedom to decide where you go and how long you stay
  • Cater for your crew the way you like
  • Plan your holiday to be around the activities you enjoy, eg. relaxing, snorkelling, hiking or sailing.

Cons to a bareboat holiday

  • You need to operate the boat yourselves which can be daunting if you have minimal boating experience.
  • Manoeuvring the boat between locations requires “all hands on deck, meaning you can’t just kick back and let someone else do the driving, anchoring and navigating.

Skippered Sailing holidays

A skippered charter can range from a group sailing trip with other travellers you’ve never met to privately hiring a high-end yacht with a skipper and possibly additional professional crew members.

You can hire a boat usually reserved for bareboat charters and add a sail guide who acts like a skipper but with more of a focus on helping you learn to operate the vessel. Alternatively, some charterboat operators in Airlie Beach provide a fully crewed boat you can hire as a package.

Pros of a skippered charter

  • Skippers provide peace of mind for those looking to relax. Having a skipper will mean you can kick back and relax.
  • If you hire a boat usually reserved for bareboat hire, a skipper/sail guide will show you how to operate the boat, and if you are confident, they can leave you to continue as a bareboat charter.
  • Skippers are locals and will share local knowledge.
  • You can set the itinerary and decide where you want to go, just like on a bareboat yacht charter.

Cons to a skippered charter

  • You need to provide a cabin and food for the skipper.
  • Skippers are an additional cost on top of the yacht hire.

yacht charter australia

Point of Sail, Leopard 50

What does a yacht charter in Australia cost?

When determining the cost of a yacht charter, you need to consider the duration, the number of people, the type of boat, and the time of year.

Luxury newer boats will always cost more to hire than older vessels.

Skippered or crewed charters are more expensive than bareboat.

When you look at boat hire prices, remember to add petrol and your food and drinks on top of the boat hire costs. Also, if you wish to stay at an island resort in the Whitsundays, you will need to pay a berthing or mooring fee.

Learn more about what it costs to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays: How much does it cost to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays

The cheapest way to charter a bareboat

You may have heard that Australian yacht charters are not cheap, but there are ways to make this holiday within reach for the budget-conscious.

  1. Charter in the low season (summer in the Whitsundays)
  2. Add more people to your crew. A crew of 8-10 ends up being the same, if not cheaper, than a hotel with sea views.
  3. Charter a monohull; they are cheaper than catamarans

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out these videos from families who chartered with Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

Boys and a Caravan charter with us back in September. Their boys absolutely loved snorkelling, and we reckon they caught one of the best sunsets we’ve seen captured from the Islands.

The Newton family charted with us in October 2021 for their dad’s 60th. Check out the fantastic water at Whitehaven, their excellent sailing skills and the tuna catch. Oh, and enjoy the tunes!


Exploring the 74 Whitsunday Islands

Exploring the 74 Whitsunday Islands

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Border Island; A nature lovers hotspot

Border Island; A nature lovers hotspot

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