Beaches in the Whitsundays are some of the best in the world, thanks to the stunning subtropical environment, the calm Coral Sea and most of the Whitsunday Islands holding national park status.
The Whitsunday Islands are spectacularly pristine with crystal clear waters, white sandy shores, rainforests meeting the beach and an abundance of marine life. There are 74 Islands in the group, meaning beach lovers can explore a range of coves and bays from the world-famous Whitehaven to more secluded spots such as Cateran Bay.
If you're unable to hire a boat or take a day tour out to the Islands, it's still possible to enjoy beautiful beaches on the mainland, with Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays coast offering its fair share of coastal treasures.
In this post, we'll feature the best beaches to see if you embark on a private Whitsunday's yacht charter and we'll also list our favourites beaches on the mainland.
Whitehaven Beach is consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the world and has won countless awards such as Queensland's Most Beautiful Beach.
Perhaps its biggest claim to fame is that Whitehaven is the most photographed beach in Australia. Visiting the Whitsundays and not seeing this picture-perfect location is like visiting Rome and not seeing the Sistine Chapel.
Stretching 7km in length, with incredible turquoise water at a temperature close to 25 degrees' year-round, Whitehaven is the perfect place for a day trip in paradise. It's the uninterrupted white silica sand that makes Whitehaven so unique. The sand is so soft that when you walk on it, it squeaks and it's so fine that it can polish jewellery.
Schedule a full day to enjoy this incredible world-class location. Take a picnic, enjoy a walk, sit in the shade and swim until your heart's content. Whitehaven is a must for people on a charter or visitors to Airlie Beach
If you are on bareboat charter and plan to spend the night near Whitehaven see this post on Whitehaven sailing and anchorage tips.
Sometimes referred to as the disappearing beach, Langford island is relatively small narrowing down to a tidal sand bar beach on the east.
We recommend you plan to visit Langford on low tide so that you can get the most out of the sand spit. The long narrow beach surrounded by crystal clear water is the perfect spot for sunbaking, cricket and to use as a base for swimming.
Snorkelling is one of the best activities to do off Langford Spit. There is a group of local turtles which frequent the area and are often seen on the north-western end of the beach. You’ll also find greate fringing reef corals and fish.
On the island itself, there’s a short walk to a view which looks over to the Whitsunday passage.
As the name suggests, dugongs are sighted in this area. If you’re lucky, keep an eye out from the beach and see if you can spot one of these gentle, shy creatures. Dugons are very wary of humans, a trait which may come from the times when they were hunted by Ngaro people.
Please note that snorkelling is not permitted at Cid Harbour to stay safe within SharkSmart guidelines.
A popular spot for group camping, facilities include a composting toilet and picnic tables. There are several walking trails from the beach. One is short 1.5km walk through coastal rainforest to Sawmill Beach and the other is a 2.5 k trail to the lookout at Whitsunday Peak (not for the faint-hearted).
Hamilton Island can be a great place to stop while on a yacht charter. It is conveniently located in the middle of the Whitsundays islands and has many resort facilities, restaurants, cafes and shops to help with stocking supplies or enjoying a meal out.
You can book an overnight berth at the Hamilton Island Marina for $125.00 or visit on an hourly basis for $17.50 per hour. Visitors are welcome to hire a golf buggy and drive around the 16km road looping the island taking you to its pools and beaches.
Catseye Beach, with its clear water, a long stretch of palm trees and sun lounges, is a great place to soak up the resort vibe of Hamilton Island. You can enjoy a cocktail from a hammock, get into some water sports, go snorkelling and even take a dip in one of the three resort pools skirting the bay.
At low tide on Catseye Beach, you can walk out onto the flats and take in Hamilton Island from a different perspective. The kids will love spotting hermit crabs and keep an eye out for turtles popping their heads up.
Cateran Bay is a beautiful, secluded place to stay and enjoy. Surrounded by imposing cliffs, the sandy beach feels like you’re in your own private paradise. We often tell couples to visit Cateran Bay because it’s one of the best moorings in the Whitsunday Islands for a romantic escape.
Border Island has been a protected green zone for a long time, meaning that snorkelling and diving are fantastic at Cateran Bay. The best snorkelling sites are on the east and west sides of the bay.
You can also enjoy a hike up to the top of the hill to experience incredible views towards the southern island groups.
Note that the beach is accessible by dinghy on a mid and high tide only.
If you’re keen to experience the famous sand found at Whitehaven Beach, then visit Chalkies Beach. Located across from Whitehaven and popular with locals, Chalkies is equally spectacular but without the day-tripping crowds.
You could spend a whole day soaking up the salt and sand at Chalkies and taking the newly established hiking trail up to a lookout with views over Whitsunday Island.
This is another great spot for snorkelling and swimming with great examples of the Great Barrier Reef’s fringing reef. You’ll be able to safely swim right off the beach and experience fantastic coral gardens and marine life, particularly in the north of the beach.
Charterers are not allowed to anchor off Chalkies, however, minimal moorings are available for day trips or staying the night. We suggest you get in quick.
Amazing Whitsunday Beaches are not exclusive to the islands. We understand that not everyone can take a charter yacht or take a tour, so we wanted to list a few favourite beaches which anyone can drive to when visiting Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday area.
Ask any local where you should go when you visit Airlie Beach and they will say “have you been to Montes?”
You'll wonder why this place isn't world-famous, it feels like you've stumbled across a secret and well, you kind of have.
About an hours’ drive to the north of Airlie (on the way to Cape Gloucester) you’ll find Hydeaway Bay. When you arrive, you'll wonder where the town is… keep driving past the holiday houses, over the ridge until you hit a dirt road and keep an eye out for the turnoff to Montes Reef Resort.
Trust us, you'll be pinching yourself when you arrive and you won't want to leave. Montes Resort provides the most incredible setting, great service, and reasonably priced fresh seafood. After lunch, you can enjoy a swim off the stunning beach, throw a line in or take a cocktail down onto the sand lounges.
Neighbouring Hydeaway Bay is Dingo Beach. Thankfully, this charming spot doesn't appear to have changed much in 30 years.
Dingo Beach is quiet and secluded. You’ll find a great shaded BBQ area and the beach is long enough to enjoy an enjoyable walk.
Offering a classic Queensland experience with open walls, local characters and holidaymakers this pub is what travelling is all about. And don’t worry, it’s not “fancy”, there isn’t a backpacker scene or any hustle and bustle to be found, just a quality experience. A visit to Dingo Beach is not complete without stopping off at the pub, you can’t miss it, apart from the general store it’s the only shop in town.
Cape Gloucester is located in the northern end of the Whitsundays, just up past Hydeaway Bay.
There are stunning views of the Coral Sea as you drive from Hydeaway Bay towards Cape Gloucester. Drive to the end so you can take your pick of sandy beaches or secluded coves to take a dip in.
We suggest allowing a whole day to enjoy beachcombing, swimming, fishing and a long lazy lunch at the Cape Gloucester Eco Lodge sitting right on the beach. Resort visitors are welcome to enjoy a dip in the amazing pool or soak up some sun on the deck.
Australia has many beautiful deserted beaches, but it’s still amazing to find a beach in Queensland that is so undeveloped so close to a major tourist town.
Situated in the northern region of the Whitsundays, Bowen is a charming older-style town just an hour north of Airlie Beach. Famous for its mangos which have been grown in the district since 1880, a visit to Bowen is not complete without stopping past the “Bowen Big Mango” at the information centre
After getting your selfie with The Mango, make sure you head to a beach constantly voted one of the best in Queensland, Horseshoe Bay. Framed by two stunning granite outcrops and surrounded by fringing reefs, you can snorkel and dive right off the beach.
In 2019, Bywa, an inter-tidal sculpture was installed in the bay as part of the Whitsunday Reef Recovery and Public Art Project. Bywa was created by Indigenous artist Brian Robinson and tells the reef’s creation story. Over time the sculpture will change and interact with its environment, making this art piece an interesting attraction for snorkelers.
To round off a wonderfully relaxing day exploring the bay, treat yourself to a meal at the fully licenced Horseshoe Bay Cafe and Beach Bar.
Often referred to as “New Beach” by the Airlie locals, Boathaven Beach consists of 60,00 cubic meters of soft white sand. How do we know how much sand is on the beach? Because it has been completely man-made.
In 2013, with the open of a new marina development at the Port of Airlie, this beach was created with one thing in mind, swimming and relaxing. The beach was designed so that it wouldn’t be affected by low and high tides are there are great views over to the Whitsunday Islands.
Spending a day hanging at Boathaven, or "new beach" is a favourite thing to do among Airlie Beach locals.
You’ll find the Whitsunday Sailing Club on one side and the Port of Airlie with its cafes and bars on the other, this is a great beach for relaxing in between holiday indulgence.
We hope you have the opportunity to experience these Whitsunday beaches. Send us a photo or tag us in your social media photo sharing so we can see which Whitsunday beach is your favourite.
Charter a yacht to expereince the beaches in the Whitsundays and enjoy the freedom to explore
Discover the many beautiful beaches the Whitsundays has to offer from the secluded to Australia's favourite at pictureseque Whitehaven.