A comprehensive bareboating in the Whitsundays guide with links to more resources.

The Ultimate Resources Guide to Bareboating in the Whitsundays


Everything you need to know about bareboating in the Whitsundays with links to more detailed resources and trusted information.

We’ve been talking about bareboating in the Whitsundays for a long time (since the 70’s actually!). Our website is full of resources to help those interesting in sailing the Whitsundays on a bareboat charter feel prepared and learn handy tips to make the most out of their sailing holiday. Sometimes, however, it helps to be pointed towards what you need to know,  which is why we’ve created this Ultimate Resource Guide to Bareboating – so you can find everything you need in one place, with links to more information should you need it.

You’re welcome.

bareboating in the Whitsundays

What is bareboating?

Bareboating is hiring a yacht, catamaran or motor cruiser without a professional crew. You and your family or friends operate and live on the boat for a sailing holiday around the Whitsundays.

Bareboating means you have the freedom to choose how you explore. You decide your itinerary – where you anchor each night and what activities you do throughout the islands. (Within operational & safety requirements) 

Some people have incredibly adventurous bareboating holidays with lots of sailing, hiking and diving. Others prefer to make their sailing holiday a relaxing romantic escape enjoying lazing on pristine beaches, curling up with a book and living onboard at a slower pace.

What’s included on a bareboat?

A bareboat comes with everything you need to live comfortably including fresh linen, towels and a fully equiped kitchen to prepare your meals. All vessels will have safety equipment, navigational aids and a copy of the Whitsunday Sailing Bible, 100 Magic Miles.

Whitsunday Rent a Yacht provides complimentary snorkelling gear to all of our guests. At an additional cost, you can hire stinger suits, kayaks, SUPS and fishing gear.

License requirements for bareboating in the Whitsundays

You do not need a boating license to hire a bareboat in the Whitsundays. It helps if at least one member of your crew has some basic boating and navigation knowledge, but no formal qualifications are needed.

bareboating in the whitsundays

Briefing before your charter

Everyone receives a comprehensive briefing on how to operate their vessel above and below deck before they begin their charter.

Briefings usually last between 3-4 hours. If the briefer believes a crew will need more time learning how to maneuver their boat safely, they will ask them to stay in the briefing longer. Briefers will not allow crews who they believe can’t handle the boat out. In this case, a Sail Guide option is suggested.

The Briefing session will cover:

  • Navigation, reading maps and using depth finders.
  • Boat operations such as batteries, water and fuel
  • Dropping the anchor and picking up a mooring
  • Understanding tides and winds
  • Spots to look out for around the Whitsundays
  • Operating the radios and the process of “radio scheds”
  • What to do if you get into trouble
  • Where to go and your itinerary considering the conditions
  • The 100 Magic Miles book – a comprehensive area guide on board your vessel
  • Getting your boat underway and operating the sails (if this is something you can & want to do)
  • Any questions or concerns you may have

Preparing a crew who are new to boating

For peace of mind, it helps if you have at least one crew member with basic boating knowledge. Being experienced in boating, however, is not a requirement for hiring a bareboat in the Whitsundays.

If you are a completely novice crew, there are some things you can do to prepare…

Technical tips and sailing skills

In line with the above information on preparing a novice crew, there are some more advanced technical skills everyone who charters can brush up on.

whitsundays sailing charter

Safety & support throughout your charter

The Whitsundays Islands are considered one of the best and safest sailing destinations in the world thanks to several factors:

  • The Great Barrier Reef protects the islands from large ocean swells making the waters calm.
  • The Whitsundays receive consistent trade winds (east to south-easterly winds) making for great sailing conditions.
  • There are 74 Islands in the Whitsundays with more than 40 safe anchorage options to spend the night.
  • Bareboating and sailing in the Whitsundays are extremely popular, so help is never far away.
  • Cruising time between the islands is approximately 2 hours, which means you will have time in the day to enjoy your destinations without needing to spend too much time on the move.
  • If you are feeling unsure about your sailing experience or your ability to handle a boat, you can hire a sail guide for an hourly or daily rate to make sure you’re confident with skippering the boat yourself.

  • There is 24 hour support available in the form of radio calls to our office in business hours and an emergency after hours phone line.
  • The Whitsunday Rent a Yacht headquarters is the closest mainland port to the Islands. We have a brand new, top of the range “chase boat” which can speed out to guests if needed.
  • Hamilton Island, which is situated among our charter limits, provides a safe marina for bareboaters and quick access for emergency services.

Choosing the time of year you want to sail in the Whitsundays

Being sub-tropical there is a wet and dry season to consider in the Whitsundays. The wet season runs over summer and the dry over winter. Winter up here is warm and calm with little rainfall. Summer is hot and humid with tropical, fast moving showers. Generally, it’s warm and sunny. As the Queensland catch phrase says “paradise one day, perfect the next!”

All seasons have their perks, which we cover extensively on our site!

Choosing your bareboat

Bareboats are typically sailing monohulls, sailing catamarans or power cats. Each boat has it’s perks. Generally, we recommend catamarans for those who are looking for space and stability and monohulls for those who are budget conscious or keen to put the sails up.

It’s tempting to look at each boat in a fleet and focus on the luxury details. Things like air conditioners, fridge space and water makers can seem significant. But we suggest, when making a decision, bring it down to these fundamental questions and then start weighing up the bells and whistles.

When deciding on the right boat to charter, ask these questions

  • How many people are you sailing with and who are they?
  • What type of boat do you need? A catamaran or monohull?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you want to add a professional sail guide or skipper to your charter?
Shute Harbour Bareboat charter

The cost of bareboating in the Whitsundays

The cost of hiring a bareboat varies depending on three main factors

  1. The type of boat you want to charter – a monohull, power cat or sailing cat. Age of the boat is also reflected in the hire price.
  2. The time of year, or season you want to sail in. We have high, low & mid season rates. The peak season coincides with the whale season and perfect weather conditions for living on the water. Mid-seasons are periods we highly recommend because it’s likely you will have great weather and less school holiday crowds.
  3. The length of your charter. The longer you charter, the cheaper the nightly rate.

    The low season falls over summer, which is the wet season. 

    Some of our boats can sleep up to 10 people. If you split the costs between 10 people over seven nights, the price can be as low as $60 per person, per night.

    To gauge an idea on rates, deals and what vessel could work for you we have a simple online booking form . Of course, we also invite you to get in touch with our team who will help tailor a sailing holiday to your needs.

The Rent a Yacht booking process

The team at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht do everything they can to make the booking process as smooth as possible.

  •  We allow guests to place a “48 hour hold” (pencil in) on their preferred vessel and dates while they lock in flights and their crew.
  • Once the hold has been confirmed, a $750 deposit is placed with the remaining balance due 70 days before you set sail.
  • Charter bookings made within 70 days do require immediate full payment. Request our cancellation policy for all the details.

What to do after you’ve booked

Once your dates are locked in, we suggest looking into the following:

  • Book a sleep-aboard the night before your charter date. In other words, book to spend the night on your boat at our jetty before you set sail.
  • Arrange Provisioning
  • Book Insurance
  • Arrange parking and transport logistics (our reservations team is here to help point you in the right direction)

Provisioning and meal planning for a bareboat charter

On a bareboat charter, guests need to arrange all of their food and drinks. This can be done through:

  • Stopping past a supermarket on your way to our base
  • Doing an online order with a local super market and having your food delivered to our base at your arrival time.
  • Hiring a local provisioning company to provide meals and supplies for your entire trip or for some meals. Provisioning companies specialise in bareboat charters and can make sure your meals fit the storage requirements on a boat. 
bareboating in the Whitsundays

 Tips for Sailing with Kids

Bareboating in the Whitsundays is a popular family holidays with kids of all ages. While different ages may require safety precautions (which we list below), with the right parameters in place the whole family can share an unforgettable experience living on the ocean. 

There’s no shortage of family-friendly activities to enjoy in the Whitsundays, from snorkelling and swimming to beachcombing and bushwalking. Families can embark on adventures together, exploring secluded beaches, hiking trails, and even visit Hamilton Island Marina, where there are many activities for all ages.

Bareboating as a Group

Splitting costs, sharing meals, keeping the kids entertained and splitting up to embark on adventures are just some of the perks to chartering as a group. When bareboating, sailing as a group also means you have more hands on deck to operate your vessel and share the load, which can take the pressure off and add to the fun.

bareboating in the Whitsundays

Anchorages & places to see in the Whitsundays

There are over 40 overnight anchorage options for bareboat charters in the Whitsundays. Choosing where you go will be weather and wind condition dependent, but it does help to have a short list to make the most out of your trip. 

Cid Harbour Whitsunday Islands

Cid Harbour, Whitsunday Island

Cid Harbour is a sheltered, spacious anchorage. Make sure you go ashore to explore a variety of walks and beautiful beaches.

Nara Inlet, Whitsunday Island

Stop in at the stunning Nara Inlet to enjoy protection from winds, incredible scenery, the waterfall and a fascinating cultural site.

Hill Inlet View Whitsundays walking tracks

Hill Inlet Lookout, Whitsunday Island

Experience the spectacular ever-changing and world-famous views of the swirling sand within Hill Inlet.

best beaches whitsundays

Chalkies Beach, Haslewood Island

Sitting opposite Whitehaven Beach, Chalkies shares the same famous pure white silica sand. The beach is gorgeous and a great place to visit if you want to avoid tour groups on Whitehaven.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island

Whitehaven is often voted as  one of the best beaches in the world. Its 98% white silica sand juxtaposed with bright, clear turquoise water & pristine environment  makes Whitehaven breathtaking.

whitsunday beach

Langford Sandspit, Langford Island

Langford Island is a delightful day-time stopover with the reef and sand spit emerging at low tide and disappearing at high tide. The long sand spit is a great exploration, picnic and sunbathing spot.


Lindeman Island

Lindeman Island is perfect for those looking for seclusion, secret beaches, birdlife, hikes and an island adventure off the beaten path.

ulysses butterfly

Hook Island

Hook Island is fantastic for snorkelling; you could spend your entire holiday just exploring Hook’s different coves, forests and reefs.

BorderIs peak with sky

Border Island

Perhaps what makes Border Island such a special place is its natural beauty: its been heavily protected since the 1930s.

Best of location guides

Over the years we’ve compiled articles with lists of top location highlights and recommendations around the Whitsundays.

whitsunday beach

The top 10 Beaches in the Whitsundays Region

Best island and mainland beaches.

20 Whitsunday Island Places Charterers love

Recommendations from past guests.

bareboating in the Whitsundays

The top 10 anchorages in the Whitsundays

The most popular places to spend the night.

Whitsundays yacht charters

Secret Spots

Escape crowds when visiting these gems.

bareboating in the Whitsundays

Exploring the 74 Islands

General information on the Whitsundays.

snorkelling whitsundays packing list

10 Best Snorkelling spots

Snorkel off your boat or the beach.

Chalkies hike

7 Great walking trails

Experience the islands from a new perspective.

Scuba Diving the Whitsundays

8 Best scuba diving sites

Add scuba diving to your sailing adventure.

FIshing Whitsundays

Whitsundays fishing

Info on fishing and some location hints!

Bareboat itinerary samples

Sample bareboacharter itineraries outlining anchorage and activity ideas for your sailing holiday around the magnificent Whitsunday Islands

Visiting Hamilton Island while on a bareboat charter

With award-winning restaurants, activities for all ages and a vibe to match the best resorts around the world, don’t miss stopping off at the Hamilton Island Marina during your bareboat charter.

Hamilton Island Resort sailing whitsundays

Things to do while bareboating in the Whitsundays

Baerboating in the Whitsundays is not just about boating. Activities such as snorkelling, diving, fishing, kayaking, stand-up-paddle boarding and hiking can all be enjoyed as you explore.

Extra activities & equipment to add to your bareboat charter

You can book extra equipment such as fishing or diving gear, kayaks or SUPS when in the planning stages of your charter. There are also extra activities such as additional tours available from local providers which some people choose to add on to their trips.

fishing whitsundays

Airlie Beach: Things to do, places to eat

Airlie Beach with it night life, cafes, shopping and who could forget – The Lagoon – is a great town to spend some time in around your bareboat charter.

Shute Harbour: Whitsunday Rent a Yacht’s base

Whitsunday Rent a Yacht are lucky enough to operate out of stunning Shute Harbour, just 10 minutes drive from Airlie Beach. Shute is the closest mainland port to the Islands with the nearest anchorage just 30 minutes away (the nearest anchorage to Airlie is 2 hours).

Away from the tourist crowds, surrounded by Nation Park with abundant marine life you could mistake being at Shute for being on a Whitsunday Island.

ecotourism whitsundays sailing

Sustainability and Eco Tourism relating to bareboating in the Whitsundays

Whitsunday Rent A Yacht is recognised as a Green Travel Leader by Ecotourism Australia. When you embark on a bareboat charter with us, you can trust that your holiday is not having a negative impact on the incredible location you’re in.

Other Useful Whitsundays Bareboating Resources

Local authorities such as Parks and Forests and The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority provide useful resources for visitors to the Whitsunday Islands. The below sites are particularly useful for those wanting to hike or fish.

About Whitsunday Rent a Yacht

Whitsunday Rent a Yacht is the original bareboat charter company in the Whitsundays. We’ve been operating since the mid 70s!

When you charter with Whitsunday rent a yacht you’re in good hands.

  • Our Shute Harbour base and private facilities are the best place to charter from due to our proximity to the Islands and stunning natural surrounds.
  • We offer customised boutique service and experience
  • Our boats are immaculately maintained on site
  • We are a small locally run business providing good old fashioned service
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.

Sign up to our newsletter

* indicates required


Call Now Button