The Whitsunday Islands are part of The Great Barrier Reef marine park and offer the best fringing reef snorkelling in the world.
There is no better way to experience the underwater wonders of the Whitsundays than from your private yacht. You have the freedom to decide where you go and for how long and in many cases, you get to snorkel right off the boat.
To make sure you get the most out of your experience, when you charter a yacht with Whitsunday Rent a Yacht, we provide you with snorkelling gear for free.
Apart from sailing, snorkelling is perhaps the most popular activity while chartering in the Whitsunday Islands. It’s an activity everyone can enjoy, especially the kids. In my opinion, it’s totally worth taking a snorkel and mask for everyone on board, you never know what amazing experiences you might sail across.
Before you set off, here are a few snorkelling tips to consider:
Almost every charterer who joins us at Whitsunday Rent A Yacht will ask the question, “Where are the best places to snorkel in the Whitsundays?” Depending on the season, weather conditions, wind direction or tide, my answer to that question might vary. However, for those who want to experience snorkelling while on your charter, I’ve created a list of my favourite sites to include on your itinerary.
Check-in with us before you set sail so we can advise you on the best snorkelling locations for the conditions. We also recommend you look at our snorkelling map which shows all of the sites around the Whitsunday Islands.
In our opinion, Langford Island is the best place to snorkel in the Whitsundays. It offers some very pretty, very accessible coral reef, adjacent to the sand spit itself. You can enjoy snorkelling right off the beach, with the best areas to explore sitting in close to the island. This makes it the perfect location to snorkel or simply relax on the sand. Ensure that you have secured your vessel to one of the public mooring buoys; drive your dinghy carefully to the beach and observe the reef protection markers.
False Nara, just to the west of Nara Inlet itself, offers a couple of public mooring buoys in close proximity to some gorgeous coral reef. This site must be selected when conditions are calm in this area; north/north-easterly winds are ideal. Try to be here when the tide is at its lowest half, which makes for easier snorkelling dives.
Blue Pearl Bay is located on the north-west side of Hayman Island. This area is a long time favourite with scuba diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Good coral and friendly fish make for a lovely session in the water. Moorings are at a premium here and we advise not to anchor in this region; you may need to wait for a mooring for a little while and be ready when another vessel vacates a mooring. Many of our charterers will visit this location to meet celebrity resident, Elvis – a Humphead Maori Wrasse! Make sure the kids have their underwater cameras ready.
This is a site to visit on a very calm day as it is exposed to winds and can experience strong currents. If you're lucky with the weather, it's worth checking out for some stunning shallow snorkelling over large coral beds.
Snorkelling at Hook Island is very popular because there are several areas you can go to depending on the wind. Butterfly Bay is just one of the snorkelling areas located on the northern part of Hook There There is no anchoring in Butterfly Bay however there are plenty of moorings to pick up. The best time to visit is in the middle of the day when the light is brightest for viewing a range of beautiful fringing reefs, bommies and marine life.
Another amazing snorkelling spot off Hook Island is Luncheon Bay. Make sure you go looking for the ‘tunnel of love’, a beautiful swim through coral formation, located on the fringing reefs in the bay.. Keep an eye out for the wild goats which sometime frequent the rocks above the bay. There is also no anchoring at Luncheon Bay due to deeper waters, however again there are plenty of moorings.
Manta Ray Bay is found on the north side of Hook Island. There is great snorkelling all year, but you’ll get an extra special experience if you visit at winter time and see the Manta Rays who come once a year. You can see where it gets the name! To protect the reef, you can’t anchor here, but you will be able to find a mooring.
On the south-east side of Hook Island, you will find Mackerel Bay where you can drop anchor. This location has excellent fringing reefs for snorkelling. Mackerel Bay is a known hotspot for seeing several different species of turtle found in the Whitsundays.
Stunning, picturesque and rewarding Border Island. Treat yourself to a beautiful location with plenty of coral and bommies to explore. If you want to take a break from the 'underwater' life, get your shoes on and shake off those sea legs by taking a walk up the recently completed bush trek. You will witness beautiful, breath-taking views of the Whitsunday Islands.
Dumbell Island located between Whitsunday Island and Border Island is a great halfway point between Whitehaven Beach and Hook Island. Dumbell is a fantastic spot to take the kids. You won’t only find picturesque coral in this area but you’ll also find many Nemo’s (clownfish) living in the coral.
Located on the west side of Haselwood Island across from Whitehaven Beach is Chalkie’s Beach. It's a lesser-known stop so you can dodge the day trip crowds which frequent Whitehaven, but you will still get to experience the same amazing soft white silica-sand. The fringing coral reef that lies just offshore is fantastic and you can also spot turtles here.
There are so many amazing opportunities to experience the underwater world when you go snorkelling in the Whitsundays. I've listed the snorkelling spots I think are the best, but if you have any questions about other sites or planning your bareboating itinerary please get in touch.
Join us in the Whitsundays to experience some of the world’s best-snorkelling destinations.