If you’re looking at when to charter a yacht in the Whitsundays, consider the wet season.
Some of our most regular customers, who have chartered with us for 15 years +, book their annual bareboat charter in the wet season because they know its perks.
Let us persuade you….
First, it’s important to highlight the fast-changing weather patterns common in the wet season and to know there’s much to be gained from booking a sailing holiday at this time of year. You will have access to discounted rates, options for shorter charters on our best boats, high chances of blue skies, calm seas and the Islands to yourself.
Read on to get some insider tips and learn how you can nab yourself a sailing adventure through the Whitsundays at a reduced rate. Plus, we’ll share some great activities to be enjoyed throughout the Whitsunday Islands in “the wet”.
How to make the most out of the Whitsundays Wet Season
When is the wet season in the Whitsundays?
The wet season occurs in North Queensland from January to March. In the tourism industry, we call this time of the year our low season – for you, that means a period with discounted rates.
What the weather is really like in the Whitsundays Wet Season
Every year our wet season is different; sometimes, we get more rain than others. This is why it’s always good to check the current and forecast weather conditions before ruling out a holiday to tropical Queensland.
Generally speaking, the temperatures in Feb and March sit around an average of 30 degrees Celsius with humidity.
A typical weather pattern for a day in the Whitsundays wet season is a heavy cloud burst later in the day or overnight with hard and fast rain. This means the mornings and throughout the day are often calm and sunny.
The weather changes really quickly. Check out these images from Hamilton Island. These photos were taken only a few hours apart, with a rainy lunchtime at the marina tavern and a sunny afternoon at the resort pool.
Take advantage of standby rates in the wet season
In the wet season, book at the last minute (our standby rates) based on the weather forecast.
Most of the bookings we receive in the wet season are made by people who understand the conditions and how quickly they can change from cloudy to blue skies. They stand by and keep a close eye on the weather – quickly booking with heavily reduced hire costs.
The low season offers these two advantages:
- You can book for a minimum of three nights (an option not always available in other seasons)
Unlike other times throughout the year, in the low season, you will also have the opportunity to book a short charter for three nights. An excellent alternative for anyone wanting a quick trip over a weekend and even an opportunity to take advantage of a long weekend like the Australia Day holiday.
- You will have access to our most popular vessels
A spontaneous, last-minute approach to organising a yacht charter holiday doesn’t often work. But because it’s the low season, there is a very good chance a popular boat from our fleet will be available.
What about Stingers and Cyclones in the Whitsundays?
For stingers, February and March are higher risk times (stinger season is from November to March). You can still enjoy water-based activities such as snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding; you just need to wear a stinger suit which you can hire from us for $5 per person per night.
Cyclones season does coincide with the wet season in Queensland. However, the likelihood of a cyclone directly impacting the Queensland coast is low.
We have access to state-of-the-art forecasting technology and local authorities who are all very experienced at monitoring cyclones in the interests of public safety. We can see when a large storm is brewing a week or more ahead of time, and we’re given several days’ warning if it’s looking like the Whitsundays will be directly affected. Once formed, cyclones tend to move slowly at about 8 to 12 knots – giving us plenty of notice if one is developing.
In the unlikely event of an approaching storm, we would recall all the boats to our base at Shute Harbour or Hamilton Island Marina with ample notice for your safety.
We strongly advise that if you are chartering a yacht in the Whitsundays’ wet season, as an extra precaution, you should take out travel insurance to ensure that your costs are covered if there is a boat recall due to extreme weather.
Things to do amongst the Whitsunday Islands in the wet season
There is still so much to be enjoyed throughout the islands if you get a bit of rain.
Visit Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island is a great place to berth for a night or two while on a bareboat charter. For a fee, you can book a berth at the Hamilton Island marina giving access to the resort facilities.
A bustling resort island, there won’t be a shortage of things to do on Hammo. You can hire a golf buggy and zip around seeing the sites, enjoy shopping, dining out, swimming in the public resort pools, 10-pin bowling and visiting the Wildlife Park where you can cuddle a koala.
Don’t miss a sunset hike up to the famous One Tree Hill lookout with extraordinary 360 views or walking on one of the nine trails through the island’s stunning National Parks.
Enjoy the walking tracks amongst the Islands & from Shute Harbour
When it rains, the forest on the islands comes alive. As you walk on one of the many trails throughout the islands, you will hear frogs, birds and the dripping of water with the smell of rain and life around you. Just pack a light raincoat and take it all in.
Four of the best places to hike during the Whitsunday Islands wet season.
South Molle Island
Located in the middle of the islands and known for its birdlife, grasslands and lush pockets of rainforest, South Molle is a favourite stopover.
Anchor at Baurer Bay, one of the best anchorages in the Whitsundays, and take the trail from the western beach within the bay keeping an eye out for signs. Choose from a shorter 1.7km walk to Lamond Hill, a 3.4 Km hike to the very popular Mt Jeffery’s or travel across the island on a 4.5km trail to Sandy Bay.
No matter what path you take, you will be treated to hiking through stunning scenery and taken to lookouts with views that will stop you in your tracks.
One of the most famous Whitsunday walks is deep inside Nara Inlet.
Take a 20-minute moderate hike up to a viewing platform which looks at ancient cave drawings from the Island’s original inhabitants, The Ngaro People. The cave’s artwork and middens have been dated back to 9000 years, making the Ngaro cultural site one of the oldest indigenous sites on the east coast.
Shute Harbour’s Mt Rooper Circuit & Swamp Bay Track
When you book with Whitsunday Rent a YAcht, you will have access to the sights within Shute Harbour. Shute is a stunning Whitsundays location not to be overlooked.
Book a sleep-aboard and enjoy hiking the 7.2km bushwalk through the Conway National Park before or after your charter. The hike will take you through unique local flora and fauna to a breathtaking view across the harbour towards the Islands overlooking Daydream Island, North Molle Islands, and the Whitsunday Passage.
Shute Harbour’s Coral Beach Walk
A 3.7km grade two walk, the pleasant and relatively easy Coral Beach walking track starts near our base at Shute Harbour at the top of the Lions Lookout steps.
When you arrive at the beach, you can beachcombing through the dried corals on the shore. The water is crystal clear, and the outlook is stunning. If you walk 180 meters east along the beach, another small track will take you to views of the Whitsundays passage and islands.
Whitsunday Island, the Hill Inlet Lookout
Take a short walk from the island’s northern end, near Tongue Point, up to the famous Hill Inlet viewing platform. The best time to enjoy this view is at low tide so you can see the contrasting colours and swirls made from the water and sand.
Whitsunday Peak, Whitsunday Island
From Cid Harbour, challenge yourself with the strenuous yet rewarding Whitsunday Peak trail. It’s a 5km return hike that should take approximately 4hrs to complete. The views at the top are incredible! Make sure you pack plenty of water.
See the Whitsunday Island Waterfalls
The wet season is it’s the only time of year you can see the Whitsunday Islands waterfalls flowing.
The most sheltered anchorages in the Whitsundays, if you take the tender right into the far end of Nara Inlet, you’ll be in close to where the waterfall lands into the ocean. If you want to get up even closer to the falls, follow the Ngaro walking track past the cave paintings, where you will find the falls cascading over rocks. Continue climbing up alongside the waterfalls for a dip in some freshwater pools.
Luncheon Bay is perhaps more famously known as a novice scuba diving site featuring the underwater “Tunnel of love” on the northern side of Hook Island. However, if you go ashore, you will find a small waterfall that drops into a rock pool where the kids can splash.
At the eastern end of Butterfly Bay you will find a little waterfall which only flows after heavy rain. Walkabout 10 minutes up the creek bed, and a tropical, secluded oasis will greet you with butterflies dancing in the trees.
Another Hook Island anchorage, Stonehaven, is one of the most popular spots to enjoy in the Whitsunday Islands wet season. The waterfall is one of the biggest in the Whitsundays, with countless rock pools and smaller falls to explore. Take care when climbing alongside the falls and look for the designated path.
Video from Sailing Yogi at Stonehaven Bay
Take amazing photographs
Many photographers know the best conditions for photos are cloudy or overcast skies, so heavy shadows and contrasts are avoided. During the wet season, the rain will downpour suddenly and clear just as quickly as it came. When it clears, the sun usually comes out, contrasting with the greys and clouds, creating an athletic sky.
A great tip is to send a drone up at sunrise and sunset for a fantastic light show amongst the clouds. And keep an eye out for the rainbows!
An opportunity to relax
If you’re planning to charter around the Whitsundays during the wet season, there will probably be a few rainy patches you’ll need to wait out. It can be an excellent opportunity to force everyone to relax, enjoy an afternoon nap, a good book or some board games with the kids.
Nothing is worse than returning from a holiday feeling like you need a holiday! At least with some forced downtime, you’ll be rejuvenated.
The biggest advantage to sailing the Whitsundays in the wet season
Perhaps the biggest drawcard to booking a sailing holiday in Whitsunday’s wet season, is that you’re likely to have many anchorages and beaches. This is a real privilege and opportunity for a world-class location with natural wonders abounds.
If you are willing to be flexible and are prepared to get wet, albeit, from warm rain, you are in for a real treat. You might even become one of our regular wet-season bareboaters.
Feel free to chat with our staff and find out what boat will be right for you