Trip in a Van's Itinerary for Self Sailing the Whitsundays

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Trip in a Van share their Whitsundays self sailing adventure

Trip in a Van, a family of five who have been travelling Australia for 4 years, share their Whitsundays self sailing itinerary and tips.


Travelling family Trip in a Van joined us to cross a dream off their bucket list, hiring a catamaran and self sailing the Whitsundays. They enjoyed 5 days of cruising the islands with an itinerary full of fishing, snorkelling, exploring, relaxing & sunset bubbles.

In this post, Bec and Justin share details from their family sailing adventure and give some great destination and activity tips for anyone wanting to sail the Whitsundays as a family.


Whitsundays Rent A Yacht Angelique


Self Sailing the Whitsundays: 5-day itinerary

We have just returned from our bareboat sailing adventure in the Whitsundays with Whitsunday Rent a Yacht. It has been a bucket list experience of ours for such a long time & we are ecstatic that we got to enjoy it with the kids & 5 days of amazing weather.

Below we will give you a brief rundown of our Whitsundays itinerary. Be sure to watch our video for more info and fishing tips!

The Night Before: Sleep-aboard

We opted to sleep-aboard the night before our charter commenced to settle in and get used to yacht life. This isn't always available & it depends on how busy they are at the time but lucky for us, there was a free berth and we got to enjoy a sunset with bubbles in Shute Harbour. The fishing here at night time is pretty good too!

Shute Harbour Sunset

Day 1 - Training & we set sail!!

As we said, this is a bareboat charter which means you skipper the yacht yourself. Of course, this involves some training before you head out to the Whitsunday Islands on your own.

We hired Angelique, a 40-foot Beneteau Lagoon catamaran. The boat came fully equipped with everything we needed, we just brought our own fishing gear, clothes and food.

Around 3-4 hours in the morning is spent with an experienced yachtsmen who will take you through everything from how to flush the toilet & have a shower, right through to navigating the seas and anchoring safely. By the time you’re done, you'll be hoisting the main sheet and sailing the high seas.

We left Shute Harbour super excited and ready to explore the Whitsundays for the next 5 days. Our first anchorage was only a few hours away at CID Harbour which was a good first stop for us to pull up in the early afternoon and enjoy the sunset.

Make sure you troll some lures out the back while you’re getting around, we landed a big Spanish Mackerel on our way to CID Harbour... YUMM!!!

sighing rent a yacht

Day 2 - Blue Pearl Bay

We got up early for sunrise and started planning our day. With wind conditions coming from the east, we stuck to the protected side of the islands where there was calm water.

We explored a few bays on the way to our next anchorage at Blue Pearl Bay. At Blue Pearl, we picked up a mooring, dropped the dinghy and spent the afternoon exploring the beaches. This place is beautiful!!

Family self sailing holiday Whitsundays

Day 3 - Butterfly Bay

We enjoyed a lazy morning start with some schoolwork and bacon & eggs on the back deck BBQ before we headed around to Butterfly Bay & WOW!!!!!

Again, we troll on our way there and pick up a solid Yellowfin Tuna for dinner. They are sensational fresh on the BBQ, no wonder they call them the chicken of the sea!! We took a mooring in the shallows of Butterfly Bay surrounded by amazing reef. So much colourful coral and BIG fish. The kids were so excited and we spent the afternoon snorkelling. Stinger suits were needed this time of year, but they didn't stop us from having a ball in the water.

family self sailing yacht charter Whitsundays

Day 4 - Tongue Bay, Hill Inlet & Chalkies Beach

Another amazing sunrise wakeup & a big day planned. We head to Tongue Bay & anchor up. It is here you can take the dinghy into the beach and do the walking trail to the lookouts over Hill Inlet. Probably the most iconic view in the Whitsundays, the shades of blue with the white sands are unbelievable!!!

HOT TIP - wear shoes or thongs!! The footpath gets super HOT!! The walk is only 700 Metres and only takes about 15 minutes.

We jumped back on the yacht for lunch before cruising along Whitehaven Beach & parking on a mooring at Chalkies Beach. The dinghy came off again and we continued to enjoy snorkelling and playing on the dunes until dinner time.

Hill Inlet Whitehaven Beach

DAY 5 - Our last full day at Hamilton Island

We decided to make our way to Hamilton Island (or Hammo as the locals call it) for our last night aboard. You can book a berth in the Marina for $125 a night & then use the free island transport to explore and use all of the resort facilities.

On our way to Hamilton Island, we stop in at a pristine spot called Turtle Bay. We explored the secluded beach and swam in some of the clearest water we have ever seen!!

Once on Hammo, we spend the afternoon at the resort pool and beach before having fish and chips on the back deck while the sun went down. A little taste of Island life to finish off a fantastic experience up here in the Whitsundays.

Hamilton Island Resort

Day 6 - Heading home

We leave the berth at 9 am and head home to Shute Harbour to disembark, thank the team and head back to our caravan which was in storage at the caravan park in Airlie Beach.

What an unbelievable experience and family holiday!!! We cannot recommend self sailing in the Whitsundays highly enough. To be able to plan your own activities and pull up wherever you feel gives you a total sense of freedom and relaxation... And oh yeah, the scenery is NEXT LEVEL AMAZING!!!!

This is one holiday we won't ever forget!!!

amazing sunset Whitsunday yacht

The cost of hiring a yacht in the Whitsundays

So here's what everyone's asking right now… How much is it to hire a sailing catamaran in the Whitsundays?
Our trip was $6500 and we sailed a yacht called Angelique

Your best to jump on the Whitsunday Rent a Yacht rates page as prices vary depending on the vessel you hire and the time of year you'd like to go. But we can tell you right now you can get great deals because it's the low season and there are some big specials on!

If you have any questions about self sailing the Whitsundays please get in touch with the helpful staff at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht. 


Cheers - Justin & Bec
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