If you’re planning to go on a bareboat charter around the Whitsundays Islands for the first time, the chances are sailing to Whitehaven Beach will be on your itinerary.
Whitehaven Beach is a world-famous destination. Consistently voted one the best beach in the world, this pristine 7km stretch of pure white sand and turquoise water encapsulates why people come to the Whitsundays.
Tours bring day-trippers to experience Whitehaven and to view the swirling sands from Hill Inlet. It’s a large area, and most tours scatter their arrivals so they don't all land at once. At most, there will be a few groups of 15-20 people on the beach.
Those lucky enough to be seeing Whitehaven from a private yacht will find opportunities for seclusion in this fantastic patch of paradise. Before you bring your bareboat into Whitehaven we suggest you check out these navigation, anchorage and tips on things to do.
The best winds for visiting Whitehaven are east around to northwesterly. South Easterly winds can be pretty uncomfortable at Whitehaven.
Whitehaven Beach is on the east coast of Whitsunday Island, the largest island in the 74 Whitsunday Islands. There are a few things to look out for navigating this popular attraction.
Take care in the Solway Passage, paying particular attention to what the tides are doing. If there's a strong tidal pull combined with winds, the passage can get challenging.
When coming into the passage from the south, keep an eye out for the reef marker on the south-east end of Whitehaven Beach. To clear the reef, sail north until you are clear of the passage, then turn towards the beach.
French Shoal, is a sandbank out from Whitehaven Beach and it's one of the important spots to look out for when navigating the Whitsundays. When coming from the North, French Shoal is located between Chalkies and Whitehaven, but it is hard to see. Pass to the west of Esk Island to avoid the bank and then turn south to avoid the shallow mouth of Hill Inlet. After the Inlet head just west of Lagoon Rock, which is just off the beach.
An alternative route to anchor at Whitehaven:
A simple way to anchor at Whitehaven is to come straight down, with Esk Island and French Shoal to your right. Sail until you're level with Martin Islet then turn towards the anchorage, avoiding French Shoal and the shallow coral on the southern end of Whitehaven.
If this navigation talk is making you nervous, don't be. You will be briefed and taught all about navigation when you first get your boat. Most of this navigational advice is from 100 Magic Miles, the Whitsundays Islands bible which you will have on your boat.
The most protected anchorage for staying overnight at Whitehaven is at the southern end of the beach, adjacent Chalkies.
If you never anchor in less than 5.5 meters or more than 9 meters of water, you will never have to worry whether the tide is coming or going.
When you do your morning or evening radio call, our radio operators will be able to advise the best anchoring locations based on current weather conditions & tides.
There are no moorings at Whitehaven. You can learn more about anchoring in this post: How to anchor a boat
Whitehaven can be exposed, making it a bit choppy and uncomfortable for anchoring at night. If any southerly winds are blowing, you will want to find an alternative to anchoring for the night at Whitehaven.
A much more sheltered anchorage in southerly and northerly winds is Tongue Bay, at the northern end of Whitehaven Beach. From here you can take a 700-meter hike up to the famous Hill Inlet
There are moorings in the bay, and it's also possible to anchor.
You will need to be mindful of the tides at this anchorage, especially when taking your tender ashore. The beach can only be accessed at low tide.
Chance Bay is a beautiful little spot. When you go ashore in your tender, take a 3km hike from Chance Bay over to Whitehaven.
Chance is an excellent overnight anchorage in northerly conditions. Take care of the reef in the bay.
Chalkies Beach located on Haslewood island is opposite Whitehaven Beach. Many locals opt to visit Chalkies to avoid day crowds while still experience the same rare silica sand found on Whitehaven.
You can pick up a mooring at Chalkies in south-east and easterly winds. There are some great snorkelling spots on the reefs here.
We have a blog post which outlines all of the things there are to do at Whitehaven Beach.
For people who are self-sailing, you will also be able to enjoy:
Go sailing to Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands and enjoy the freedom to explore