The 74 Islands which make up the Whitsundays archipelago contain dozens of anchorages offering options for protection from all wind directions.
Each anchorage in the Whitsundays is unique, with many featuring attractions such as hikes, snorkelling spots, cultural sites, incredible beaches, views and fishing spots.
When you charter a yacht to sail the Whitsundays, you have the freedom to explore the islands and their anchorages at your own pace. If you find somewhere you like, you can stay awhile - going ashore, taking the kayaks along the coast or simply enjoying the scenery from onboard your boat.
One of the great things about chartering a yacht in the Whitsundays is the sailing distance between anchorages is always under two hours. This gives you more time to explore your anchorage in the morning and evening.
The list below summarises the "crowd-pleasing" Whitsunday anchorages. We recommend these stopovers for first-time charterers who want to experience some of the Whitsunday Island highlights and some variety while on their bareboat charter.
For those who have seen these top anchorages, check out the resources link below.
And remember, it's difficult to fully plan where you will anchor before your trip as everything is weather dependent. It's best to charter with an open mind, going where the wind takes you, so to speak. The team back at head office will help you decide on the best anchorages to choose from during your morning radio calls.
One of the closest anchorages to our base at Shute Harbour is beautiful 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 punishing your physical abilities. Enjoy stunning views down onto Bauer Bay and Unsafe Passage and across to Daydream Island. You can also soak up a vista to the South-East across Whitsunday Passage to Hamilton Island.
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.
Located on Whitsunday Island, Cid Harbour's safest and most 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 that will 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, Sawmill Beach is 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.
Learn more about visiting Cid Harbour.
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.
Swimming, beachcombing, sun-worshipping, or gently strolling up to the famouse Hill Inlet lookout can all be enjoyed while anchoring at Tongue Bay.
Tongue Bay is a well-protected anchorage, however it can get busy with day tours. The advantage of anchoring here is you can head to the Hill Inlet lookout before or after the crowds.
If you want to expereince the Inlet view yourself, take the easy walking trail to the viewing platform overlooking Hill Inlet. It really is one of the most spectacular views in the Whitsundays. Take a truly unique photos of the sands as they change with every tide.
Anchoring at Tongue Bay also gives access to beautiful Betty’s Beach and Lookout Beach.
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.
You're likely to see lagoon rays and green sea turtles bobbing in the clear waters of Tongue Bay. It's also 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.
Note that Langford is not an overnight anchnorage.
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.
Blue Pearl Bay is located on the north-western side of Hayman Island. It's a superb overnight anchorage with some of the best snorkelling and diving in the Whitsundays.
Bareboat visitors usually swim directly off their boats. To swim from the beach, look for the channel which allows dinghy access to the southern beach - a great spot for beginner snorkellers to enter the water from shore. The beach at Blue Pearl Bay is coral, so remember to pack shoes.
For snorkelling, the water is deep just off the fringing reef, gradually shelving to the shore as it meanders around countless bommies and coral ledges. Scuba diving is at its best around Dolphin Point.
Look for the shy and endangered Proserpine rock-wallaby which sometimes hides out in the bushy areas. There are also some very friendly Maorie Wrass fish
Blue Pearl Bay is a fantastic spot to explore with your dinghy. Cruise along the rocky coastline and see if you can find a secluded cove to swim from.
Located on the North of Hook Island, Butterfly Bay is a one-kilometre long, cosy bay that offers great protection from the south and south-east trade winds.
Butterfly Bay is a Marine National Park Green Zone. There are public moorings situated to minimise the impact on the reef in this sensitive ecological area. Birdlife, and of course, butterflies are also part of the natural attractions found at this pretty anchorage.
If you venture ashore and explore the creeks at certain times of the year, the bush is clouded with thousands of blue Ulysses butterflies with a wingspan of up to nine centimetres. Butterflies can be seen from latitude 20°04'24 S and longitude 148°55'55 E.
Snorkelling is the main attraction at Butterfly Bay. For the best snorkelling, go along the bayside of Alcyonaria Point, named for the abundance of that coral there, or go just off the beach and marvel at the many small, colourful fish species.
The Stonehaven anchorage is located in a large bay on the North East side of Hook Island. It's a popular overnight anchorage due to its proximity to some of the Whitsundays' best diving and snorkelling sites.
Stonehaven is an expansive three-kilometre long open bay with a mountain range to the east and the best sunsets in the Whitsundays on the west. This is the spot for the best sunsets in the Whitsundays!
There are free moorings available. Be mindful of the reef protection markers.
The pick of three anchorages for shelter during strong southerlies is between Ian Point and Anchor Point where there are two public moorings.
There are some great snorkelling spots with interesting shallow diving and small marine life, including damselfishes, Christmas-tree worms and nudibranchs. Watch for dolphins frolicking or nosing around your boat at dusk. The tides very much control visibility below water - check your 100 Magic Miles.
To learn more about where to go while cruising the Whitsundays see these articles:
One of the best things about sailing the Whitsundays is the amount of safe and stunning anchorage there are to choose from.
When you charter a bareboat with us, we will make sure you can pull together a fantastic itinerary that 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.