Australia is a phenomenal place for stargazing. Australia’s wide open skies and landscapes make Milky Way viewing from the Land Down Under accessible in countless places around the continent.
There are many favourite stargazing destinations, such as Uluru or Tasmania. However, those who know sailing will tell you there is nothing better than stargazing from a boat.
Sometimes, sailors tell a story that when anchored in a calm sea with a starry night, the water reflects the starlight – making it feel like you’re floating in the sky. While it takes some special conditions to align for a “fish bowl” of stars experience, the Whitsundays could get you pretty close.
In this post, we’ve listed the best locations to take in the night sky around the Whitsunday Islands, from a boat and from land too.
When is the best time of year for star gazing in the Whitsundays?
The Milky Way is best in the southern hemisphere through winter. This is when it’s at its highest in the sky and more can be taken in.
Stargaze from a boat in the Whitsundays for a unique experience
When you hire a bareboat to sail around the Whitsundays at your own pace, you decide where you anchor each night. Your chosen location will depend on the weather, but rest assured, there are many sheltered options.
After a day of sailing and exploring your new destination, perhaps with a bush walk or swim ashore, you can enjoy a meal as the sun goes down. Once the little ones are tucked in, take a blanket above deck to kick back and take in the magic above.
Lying on the deck of a boat with a warm breeze and unobstructed views of the night sky is an awe-inspiring experience you’ll never forget.
Standout Locations for Stargazing in the Whitsundays
Stargazing is best done without light pollution. If you’re sailing around the Islands, you’ll find several uninhabited islands with secluded anchorages to take in the night sky.
Open skies from Stonehaven anchorage, Hook Island
Stonehaven, located on Hook Island, has three bays to choose from, giving those looking for an overnight anchorage plenty of space. It’s considered one of the best anchorages in the Whitsundays for sunsets and open skies because it provides unobstructed views to the west.
Stonehaven is also a great spot for snorkelling and fishing.
Camping on the Islands
There are 25 campsites scattered around the Whitsunday Islands, providing opportunities to sleep among the palm trees, away from crowds and under the stars.
Our favourite camp spots include Whitehaven, Cairn Beach, Chance Bay, Denman Island and Steens Beach.
Parks and Wildlife have established basic infrastructure for campers. Please note that camping permits are required, and fees apply.
If you’re keen to camp under the stars, contact SCAMPER (Whitsunday Camping). They run a camping gear hire and transport service specifically for campers and will help with all your island camping needs.
Stargazing on Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island shared these fantastic photos on social media a few years back. If you’re visiting Hamo on a bareboat charter or for a resort holiday, don’t forget to look up!
Stargaze at Shute Harbour, the mainland
Airlie Beach isn’t a huge town, but it does have a fair bit of infrastructure and light pollution. If you’re mainland bound and want to soak in the night sky, consider a short drive to Shute Harbour. Tucked away and surrounded by the Conway Rangers, the night sky at Shute can be pretty spectacular.
For those lucky enough to be chartering a bareboat from Shute Harbour, book a sleep aboard the night before you set sail. A sleep aboard is an opportunity to check in the evening before your booking, sleeping on your boat and giving you time to settle in. The great thing about sleeping aboard at Shute is the peace and tranquillity surrounding you and of course, the stars.
Photo credit @janiceterrill_photography
Snorkel by day, stargaze by night on the Outer Great Barrier Reef
Forty nautical miles offshore on the Outer Great Barrier Reef, Cruise Whitsundays offers keen stargazers a chance to sleep on the Reef and under the sky.
After snorkelling and the day-trippers head back to shore, the pontoon and the Reef become exclusive to those booked for ReefSleep. Meals and drinks are a part of the experience, as well as having access to the underwater observatory where you can watch the Reef come alive.
Accommodating is a swag on the top level of the “Reefworld” pontoon. There are no official astronomers, just you and a view of billions of stars from your cosy bed.
Stargazing and slowing down to take it all in is what a holiday in the Whitsundays is all about. So the next time you visit the Whitsundays, look up!