We have created this detailed Whitsunday yacht charter itinerary as a guideline for anyone embarking on a 7-night bareboat holiday through the Whitsunday Islands. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we encourage you to plot your own adventure and let the wind guide you throughout your cruise around the islands.
The most important factor to remember when choosing an anchorage is the weather forecast. By using the 100 Magic Miles book on your vessel as a reference, your navigation chart and advice from the VHF radio operator at our base, you will be able to make informed anchorage decisions at the start of each day.
We also recommend you discuss ideas you have for your itinerary with your briefer during your training on the first day. They will assist you in plotting the best course for the weather conditions predicted for your charter.
The beauty of the suggestions made in this Whitsunday Islands yacht charter itinerary is that you can travel clockwise or anticlockwise around the islands depending on the wind and tide and you will not miss a thing.
Arrive at Whitsunday Rent a Yacht's base in Shute Harbour where you will be prepared for charter with a 3-4 hour briefing. You will meet and greet your briefer in our comfortable reception area and then be guided to your vessel to load your personal belongings before your briefing.
The pre-charter briefing consists of an area brief, followed by a briefing on the operation of the vessel and its equipment. Your briefer will take you for a test run on your vessel to ensure you and your crew are confident in its handling. Once your briefer is satisfied you can handle your vessel, it's time to embark on your charter.
You will then head off to your first anchorage which, depending on the weather and the start time of your briefing, could be one of the many amazing locations. The beauty of starting your charter from Shute is we are closer to the islands, the nearest anchorage is less than an hour away.
You will be required to call in on the afternoon radio schedule with our proposed overnight anchorage and if you are still in transit, then it's a good idea to call base again once safely moored for the evening. Fleet vessels must be anchored for the evening by 4 pm.
If you arrive early or are having a pre-charter sleep aboard take a walk up to Lion's lookout and take in the majestic view over the harbour and out to the islands. Keep an eye out for the resident dolphins and drop a line in off the back deck or take the tender to Snow's Beach for a picnic.
Nara Inlet is a narrow 3km inlet making it a very protected and suitable overnight anchorage in all weather conditions. The fishing conditions are excellent and there are lots of oysters to gather from the rocky shore at low tide.
Nara is a deep and fiord-link inlet with steep, heavily wooded embankments. If there have been recent showers, small waterfalls tumble down the rocky face to the shore and provide a refreshing bath. There is a track up to the Ngaro Cultural Site, which is easily accessible for anyone with reasonable health and adequate footwear. With aboriginal cave paintings and an interpretive signage explaining the history of the traditional owners of the Whitsundays, this cultural site and bushwalk make a great activity in any weather.
Take a short walk past the caves to the flat rocky outcrop and you will get the chance to take stunning photos of your vessel looking back down the inlet. The friendly resident cockatoos are likely to pay a visit at mealtimes. Being very inquisitive and used to visiting yachts, the interaction with these birds makes for a great photo opportunity.
The inlet offers several anchorages, however, we recommend anchorage 1 or 3 right at the top of the inlet if there is space available, as they are the most protected and quite beautiful. The anchorages are surrounded on three sides by steep rocky faces with ferns, hoop pines, palms and varieties of other rainforest plants and wildlife.
Head to one of the areas most popular anchorages, Cid Harbour, on the western side of Whitsunday Island. It is often chosen as a great first anchorage as it is approximately a 2-hour sail from our base. One of the great all-weather anchorages, it was used by the Australian Navy and allied navies during World War II.
The main Sawmill Beach anchorage is a sandy beach edged with a coral reef. If you are feeling adventurous take one of the most strenuous walks in the islands through the rainforest over spring-fed streams and palm forest to the top of Whitsunday Peak (437m). Make sure you allow plenty of time before the sun sets and take plenty of water and sunscreen. Watch for the majestic sea eagles that swoop the waves for small fish and take stunning photos of your vessel from the peak.
For the less energetic, the bush walk from Sawmill Beach to Dugong Inlet is a must-do. This leisurely walk offers a beautiful secluded beach and is well worthwhile. Except to encounter large, lazy goannas, wallabies and lots of birdlife on the way. Don't forget your cameras.
Enjoy the serenity the next morning by taking your dinghy ashore and enjoying a bushwalk through the lush forest throbbing with bird song. Then be enticed back onboard with the aroma of a sizzling BBQ cooking on the rear deck. All our vessels are equipped with gas BBQ on the rear deck for al fresco dining Whitsundays-style.
From both Nara Inlet and Cid Harbour take a leisurely cruise along the western side of Hook Island, heading north to Langford Island. This is a delightful daytime stop-over with the coral reef and sand spit emerging at low tide and disappearing at high tide.
Langford Island, with its coral sand beach, has vegetation which gives the feeling of both a continental island and a true coral quay. The long sand spit is interesting to explore - a great daytime choice for all the family. Beachcombing is a must on the sand spit with a world of hidden treasures washed up with each tide.
It's a great area for picnicking at low tide and the vast array of tropical fish seething amongst the coral bommies makes it one of the best snorkelling spots in the area.
There is a very high chance of spotting a friendly turtle whilst snorkelling amongst the coral or enjoying a bite to eat back on the boat before heading elsewhere for the evening. As navigation can be tricky through the reef, especially in this area, always refer to your chart and the 100 Magic Miles guide book which shows how to enter and exit the area safely.
The five-star world-class one and only Hayman Island lie to the north of Langford Island. Visitation is allowed for a berthing fee and via pre-arrangement, so you can enjoy a sophisticated lunchtime experience. No overnight berthing in the marina unless you have accommodation booked on the island. Dress codes apply.
The best overnight anchorages in this area are Stonehaven to the east of Langford Reef on Hook Island or Blue Pearl Bay on the western side of Hayman Island. Stonehaven is an expansive 3km long open bay with a 400-meter mountain range on the eastern side of the best sunsets in the Whitsundays to the western side.
Be sure to sit back on the deck with a refreshing drink and your camera at the ready as the sunsets are not to be missed. There are three main anchorage areas to choose from and the northernmost anchorage has a very nice beach, with good fishing from the rocks to the south.
Stonehaven can be a little gusty in very strong winds but is a very secure anchorage and well worth the visit.
Blue Pearl Bay on the western side of Hayman Island offers another superb overnight anchorage in easterly conditions and some of the Whitsundays' best snorkelling and diving opportunities. What better way to end the perfect day than with a snorkel in the warm turquoise waters and the chance of spotting a school of brightly-coloured tropical fish. Wake up and dive back in for another snorkel, being ready to leave after breakfast when the commercial charter vessels start to arrive and bring the crowds.
Yes, Elvis is still alive! Watch for a glimpse of the Whitsunday marine life celebrity. Elvis the Maori Wrasse, who calls Blue Pearl Bay home. He is thought to be about 50 years old and is very friendly to snorkelers.
The northern side of Hook Island is where you need to be if you want to experience the Great Barrier Reef and all it has to offer. The numerous bays which line the northern end of Hook Island such as Butterfly Bay, Maureen's Cove, Luncheon Bay, Manta Ray Bay and Pinnacle Bay provide some of the best snorkelling conditions in our tropical waters and in the right conditions the visibility is superb.
When snorkelling and diving around this group, you can expect to see an amazing variety of coral specials and marine creatures including enormous clams, huge groupers, sea turtles, dolphins, stingrays and large schools of colourful tropical fish. Remember to always snorkel with a buddy and we recommend wet suits in all seasons for sun protection.
After a day of underwater activity make your way to either North Mackeral Bay on the eastern side of Hook Island or Butterfly Bay on the northern side for overnight anchorages - your choice will be guided by the wind directions Butterfly Bay is a 1km long cosy bay, which offers great protection from our south-east trade winds. If you venture ashore at Butterfly Bay and explore the creeks at certain times of the year, the bushland is clouded with thousands of blue butterflies.
There are 9 public moorings in Butterfly Bay, which are aimed at minimizing the human impact on the coral and the risk of damage to the reef, as this is a very sensitive ecological area. Remember to never stand on the coral or touch it when swimming past and always observe marine life from a distance.
From the top of Hook Island take a gentle cruise south to Border Island and enjoy a light lunch on board before walking to the top of this grassy little island ridge which offers a 360-degree view of the area. Anchor up in Cateran Bay to the north, as it is well protected from our trade winds and offers excellent coral reef and marine life to explore for a mid-morning snorkel and lunch.
After a relaxing lunch stop at Border Island, head to Tongue Bay for your overnight anchorage. This is where you will find access to the lookout loop and viewing platform with views of the amazing Hill Inlet, with its pure white sandy shoals and pristine beaches. Here you are likely to see an array of lagoon rays and green sea turtles bobbing in the clear blue seas, so don't forget your camera.
Take the time to descend the walking track into Betty's Beach and experience for yourself what it is like to feel the tropical warm waters on your toes whilst gazing out over the inlet and off to Whitehaven Beach in the distance. If the tides are in your favour you may even be lucky enough to catch this amazing vista at sunset and take home photos your friends and family will be jealous of!
Get the camera ready! It is here at Hill Inlet that you will experience for yourself the picture-perfect turquoise waters and white silica sand that has become the trademark of the Whitsundays Islands. This vista has to be the most iconic and photographed of all the Whitsunday views and it won't disappoint.
On a calm day, the northern end of Whitehaven Beach can provide a suitable anchorage for you to explore the beach and Hill Inlet from a different angle.
At your leisure make the trip along the length of Whitehaven Beach where you will get stunning views of Australia's most famous beach, with its 6km of pure white sand and clear turquoise seas. The best overnight anchorage is off the rocky point at the south end of the beach. Spend a day relaxing on the beach itself, take a picnic and enjoy a game of beach cricket, a swim in the shallows or an hour of peace and quiet before returning to the vessel for a delicious dinner with one of the best views in the world.
For an alternative overnight anchorage or day time stop in certain wind conditions, head east to Haselwood Island and anchor at Chalkies Beach on the western side. Some call Chalkies a mini Whitehaven as it too is blessed with that pure white Silica sand, which when combined with the calm turquoise waters helps to create the perfect Whitsunday anchorage.
Included in Trip Advisor's top ten beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach is a must-see. The sand is made up of 98 per cent silica, producing the sand's pure white appearance. Unlike normal sand, the sand on Whitehaven Beach does not retain heat, which makes it a dream to stroll along even on a hot summer day.
Any proposed itinerary need to be open to a great deal of flexibility, taking into account changing weather and wind conditions.
Some people will try and fit as many different locations into their charter as possible, whereas others may stay in the same spot for days on end. There are no set guidelines for where you should go and what you should do whilst out on the water and we offer this Whitsunday yacht charter itinerary as a suggestion only.
No matter what route you decide to take around the Whitsundays, you're sure to have the adventure of a lifetime. Be flexible with your plans and most importantly, have fun!
Customise your Whitsunday Yacht Charter Itinerary and enjoy the freedom to explore.