Whitehaven Beach, located in the Whitsunday Islands, lies within the Great Barrier Reef National Marine Park and is a protected world heritage site. This pristine environment continuously gets voted one of the best beaches in the world, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
In this post, we'll go through how to visit the beach on a day trip or bareboat charter. We'll also cover the best things to do on Whitehaven and any logistics you'll need to know for visiting.
Whitehaven Beach is indeed a white haven. Its 98% white silica sand juxtaposed with bright, clear turquoise water coupled with its pristine location makes Whitehaven absolutely breath-taking. Once you've recovered from taking in the beauty, consider filling your visit with these activities.
The first thing you will want to do when you visit Whitehaven is take a dip in the crystal clear ocean.
It's possible to swim at Whitehaven Beach year-round thanks to the tropical waters sitting at a delightful 26 degrees.
The shores are shallow, making Whitehaven a safe beach to swim off. With no major rips or swells to worry about, and the water temperature delightfully tropical, you may not want to get out.
Safety Note: If you're swimming, please make sure you check if it's stinger season and take the necessary precautions.
Whitehaven is not well known for snorkelling because it lacks fringing reefs. You can take a look under the surface to spot the occasional fish or turtle on the sandy bottom, but for the best snorkelling take a short walk to Chance Bay.
You can access the Chance Bay walking track from the southern end of Whitehaven.
The secluded waters of Chance Bay are home to many turtles with green, flatback and hawksbill sea turtles calling the area home.
Snorkel the fringing reefs and also try around the small islet.
The view over to Hill Inlet is the most famous vista in the Whitsundays.
To access the lookout, you will need to take a short 20-minute hike up to the viewing platform from Tongue Bay. Many day tours will take you here before bringing you around the stretch of beach which is Whitehaven. Bareboat charter visitors can anchor at Tongue Bay for the night.
As you look down from the Tongue Point Lookout, into Hill Inlet, you will see where the shifting tides create swirling layers of white sand and turquoise water.
The best time to see the iconic patters in the inlet is at mid-tide, but the view is fantastic at any time of day.
If you’re on a bareboat charter arriving via Tongue Bay, boats should come in on the high tide. As you walk up to the lookout, keep an eye on the information signs dotted along the way.
See this map showing where the lookout is in comparison to Whitehaven Beach.
The sand is perhaps the most striking feature of Whitehaven. It's fine and pure and probably the whitest sand you will ever see.
Silica sand is made of pure quartz meaning it reflects the sun and doesn't retain heat.
When you walk along the 7-kilometre sandy stretch, note how the sand squeaks under your feet. Whitehaven Beach was once known as the ‘Whispering Sands’ by traditional owners, the Ngaro people.
Many people bring their jewellery to Whitehaven to polish it using the famously fine sand.
There are several walking tracks you can do on your trip to Whitehaven Beach.
The most famous hike is to the viewing platforms which overlook Hill Inlet at Whitehaven’s northern end. Take the beach track which has Tongue Bay access and veer off to the Hill Inlet Track - a 700m loop passing three lookout points over the swirling sands.
On the southern end of the beach, there is a 3 km walk to Chance Bay, a stunning cove which has some great snorkelling if you want to put a mask and snorkel in your backpack.
The 1.2km Solway Circuit loop walk, also found on the southern end of Whitehaven, will take you to another stunning view. From this vantage point, you can join the Whitehaven Beach Headland track, a 400m loop that will eventually take you back down onto Whitehaven.
When you camp at Whitehaven, you get to wake up and have the beach all to yourself. There is a camping spot on the southern end of the beach with picnic tables and toilets.
Chance Bay also has a campsite for eight people; this spot can be accessed from your yacht or from the walking tracks starting at Whitehaven. We think it’s one of the best camping spots in the islands, again picnic tables and outhouse toilets are provided.
There is no running water on the island, and campfires are strictly prohibited. You will need to bring everything with you. Book your campsite online with national parks or through our neighbours at Shute Harbour, Scamper Island Transfers.
On the north end of Whitehaven, there is a secret little cove with the same white sand.
Follow the coastline to your left, and you'll come to some rocks, it might seek like you can’t go any further, but climb over, and you'll see Betty's Beach. This place is a secluded oasis, you will probably have it all to yourself.
Betty's Beach is a sacred site for the traditional owners. Women are said to have used the area around Betty's Beach for birth.
Whitehaven Beach is on the western side of Whitsunday Island, the biggest island out of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. It's not part of the Great Barrier Reef; however, it sits within the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef National Marine Park.
Whitehaven Beach is in Queensland's sub-tropical climate with temperatures averaging between 23-30 degrees Celsius, or about 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
The wet season runs over summer and winter is a dryer time of year with slightly cooler, yet sunny conditions. It's ok to visit Whitehaven at any time of year.
For more info on weather in the Whitsundays, check out our blog post: When is the best time to visit the Whitsundays?
There are two ways to get to Whitehaven, by boat or a scenic flight. Boats are the most popular form of transport with a plethora of day tours running from Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island.
Most tours to Whitehaven are eco-certified. To make sure everyone who visits Whitehaven gets to experience its beauty, tour operators stagger their timings so guests have plenty of space.
We recommend Mars Charters and Whitsunday Paradise Explorer who offer private charters for small groups; You're able to customise your trip out to the islands and Whitehaven to suit what you feel on the day.
A bareboat self-sail yacht charter is the best way to visit Whitehaven Beach. Bareboat charters will allow you to experience a side of this famous beach which day-trippers don't get the opportunity to enjoy.
Whitehaven stretches for an uninterrupted 7-kilometres, so bareboat visitors should have the opportunity to find a slice of paradise away from crowds. But to really get the beach to yourself, it's best to wake up early or save your visit for the afternoon. Early birds, should try and get up to Hill Inlet lookout before the tours start.
For those cruising the Whitsunday Islands on a private yacht, you will be able to visit as a day activity or spend the evening either at Whitehaven or a nearby bay.
To learn more about anchorage, navigation, wind and tide tips for getting your boat into Whitehaven, check out a post in our post on hits for sailing to Whitehaven Beach.
Air Whitsunday Seaplanes offer several scenic flights featuring Whitehaven Beach and also direct flights to the beach. When you do a direct tour to Whitehaven, your seaplane will land in a secluded section of the beach where you can relax sunbathing, swimming and exploring the remarkable pure silica sand.
If you're not fortunate enough to take a scenic flight, enjoy this video from Riptide Creative of aerial shots from above Whitehaven Beach.
Whitehaven beach is pristine national parkland and an incredible place to visit on a bareboat charter or day trip. If you want to experience Whitehaven to yourself through a private yacht charter, please get in touch.
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