The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on Earth – so large it can even be seen from space. Spanning 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coastline, from Cape York in the north to Bundaberg in the south, the reef is not only an Australian treasure but a natural wonder belonging to the world.
This fragile ecosystem boasts more than 1,500 species of fish, 360 types of hard coral plus more than a third of the world's soft coral. It's home to endangered species including dolphins and dugongs. The Great Barrier Reef is also a nesting ground for the endangered green and loggerhead turtles and a breeding ground for migrating humpback whales.
The waters around the Whitsunday Islands are incredibly calm making them the perfect sailing ground. This is all thanks to the Great Barrier Reef which acts as a barrier for large ocean swells.
The 74 Whitsunday islands benefit from being one to two hours by boat from the outer Great Barrier Reef. When you sail around the Whitsundays, you will be able to experience the Great Barrier Reef’s fringing reefs; coral which lies close to the shore.
The fringing coral reefs scattered amongst the islands are home to many spectacular marine species as well as hard and soft corals. There are various snorkelling and dive sites amongst the islands which you will be able to experience from your private yacht at your own pace.
Unlike some of the press you may have heard concerning the Great Barrier Reef, the reefs surrounding the Whitsundays are in great health. You can learn more about the state of the reef in this post: The best thing you can do for the Reef in 2020
The outer Great Barrier Reef is not a part of the approved cruising zone when you charter a yacht with any bareboat company in the Whitsundays. This means you can’t take your rented yacht out to see the famous natural structure, however, you're still able to include a visit to the Reef on your itinerary.
While sailing the Whitsundays, you can experience the outer Great Barrier Reef on a seaplane flight. We can arrange to have an Air Whitsunday plane pick you up off the back of your boat and take you out to see the famous “heart of the reef” coral formation from the air. You will then be taken down to a private pontoon at Hardy Reef where you can enjoy coral viewing from a glass-bottom boat and snorkelling. You could also arrange to join one of the day reef tours departing from Hamilton Island.
Our flotilla group cruises are a convoy of yachts with a highly qualified skipper on the lead boat. You have the option to sail with the skipper, or you can sail your boat with your crew and follow the skipper’s navigation. Flotillas have been designed so charterers can explore far-reaching places otherwise not accessed by a regular bareboat charter in the Whitsundays.
We love living in the part of the world and sharing the amazing Great Barrier Reef with our visitors. Let us know if you would like to add seeing the Outer Great Barrier Reef to your sailing holiday in the Whitsundays.
The Whitsunday Islands are the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.