When I'm briefing or chatting with visiting charterers, I’m often asked to recommend the best anchorages in the Whitsundays. There are so many amazing places to visit in the Whitsunday Islands and of course, where you go will be dependant on the weather conditions.
However, when asked where my personal favourite anchorages are, I usually suggest the below list, particularly for first-time charterers who want to experience some Whitsunday highlights and variety while on their charter.
Just outside of our base at Shute Harbour you will find Bauer Bay. It's a protected anchorage from the South and South-East winds, although it can get a bit rolly if the breeze tends into a more Easterly aspect.
The walks around the side of the golf course then up to Spion Kop Lookout will give you views to die for, without unduly punishing your physical abilities. The vistas down onto Bauer Bay and Unsafe Passage, and across to Daydream Island, then to the South-East across Whitsunday Passage to Hamilton Island will give you ample camera fodder.
Anchor on the eastern side and take the picturesque walk up to Spion Kop – voted the Top Island Walk of Queensland by National Geographic.
It's the best anchorage to explore the many kilometres of the national park walking tracks on South Molle Island. You can also anchor on the eastern side of the jetty and access the walking tracks - including those to Spion Kop viewing platform and Mount Jeffreys - at no cost.
Cid Harbour's safest and best-protected anchorage is Sawmill Beach. It's almost a perfect anchoring with depths 3 to 5 metres.
From the Southern end of Sawmill Beach, a track winds its way uphill to the top of Whitsunday Peak, where views will gently blow your mind. Allow 3 to 4 hours for the return hike on this one, and remember to take water and a snack to be enjoyed on top of Whitsunday Peak.
From the Northern end of Sawmill Beach, a shorter gentler stroll of 15 to 20 minutes will take you through the forest to a secluded, romantic treasure, Dugong Beach. This secret sport is certainly not the biggest or most popular beach, but definitely one of the most beautiful. Taking a picnic hamper and a bottle (or 2) of your favourite wines will give you a relaxing romantic escape or quality family time to treasure.
A brilliant fishing spot with the right ingredients of smooth current and clear waters for good, easy fishing for beginners and experienced alike.
Just two hours' sailing from Shute Harbour, it's a popular first-night anchorage. A great all-weather location, it was occasionally used by the navy during World War II. The main anchorage, at Sawmill Beach, is off a shoaling sandy beach edged with the reef. Climb through the rainforest to the top of the 437-metre high Whitsunday Peak. Watch for majestic sea eagles swooping for small fish.
Many people say Nara inlet is the best anchorage in the Whitsundays. Nara Inlet is a deep, fiord-like inlet stretching three kilometres with steep, heavily wooded embankments. It's very protected and suitable as an overnight anchorage in all weather. At the end of the inlet, you can visit the Ngaro cultural site, a cave with the first Australian's artwork dating back 9000 years and in the wet season, there are waterfalls to be enjoyed.
A good night’s sleep is guaranteed at Nara which locals say is the calmest and tranquil anchorage in the Whitsundays. Great for safe harbour during windy weather.
If there have been recent showers, small waterfalls tumble down the rocky faces and there are freshwater pools you can swim in. Keep an eye out for goats on the high rock faces.
Tongue Bay is a well-protected anchorage giving charterers immediate access to a walking track up to the Hill Inlet lookout. Anchoring at Tongue Bay also gives access across the isthmus to beautiful Betty’s Beach and the Lookout Beach.
Swimming, beachcombing, sun-worshipping, or gently strolling up to the awesome lookouts will enable you to take your own unique photos (the patterns in the sands of Hill Inlet change with every tide), across the Inlet all the way down Whitehaven Beach, which of course is known internationally as one of the great beaches on the planet.
Walk in famous footsteps. The seaplane chase in the 2008 movie Fool’s Gold – about a couple searching for lost treasure – starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson was filmed here.
Access the walking trail to the viewing platform overlooking amazing Hill Inlet, one of the most spectacular views in the Whitsundays. Experience the picture-perfect turquoise waters and white silica sand that has become the trademark of the Whitsunday Islands. You're likely to see lagoon rays and green sea turtles bobbing in the clear waters. It's an incredible sunset location.
Langford Island Sandspit is incredibly unique and a great place to head to if you want to enjoy a day of relaxing, sunbaking and snorkelling right off a stunning sandy beach. You can pick up a public mooring buoy for the day and then head to Stonehaven Bay where you can safely anchor for the night in a delightful ambience.
When the sun disappears, you’re guaranteed some stunning tropical sunset images. As it darkens, the lights of Hayman Island provide a twinkling backdrop to the Whitsunday skies.
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. Diving is sensational with easy, beach-water entry - perfect for first-time scuba divers.
Best scuba diving is on the north-west end where scattered bommies offer an interesting maze. There are a few shallow walls at the eastern end of the island too. The abundant fish life is mostly small.
There are, of course, many other recommended anchorages in the Whitsundays. When you charter a bareboat with us, we will make sure you can pull together a fantastic itinerary which covers the best anchorages to match your interests and the wind conditions.
Join us on a bareboat charter, visit these Whitsunday anchorages and enjoy the freedom to explore
Beautiful Bauer Bay, South Molle Island is one of the best anchorages in the region. Be sure to visit.