The Whitsunday Islands are like no other place in Australia or in the world for that matter! With 70+ pristine islands right on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, it’s an oceanic playground just waiting to be explored.
I grew up in Northern Sydney and spent a lot of time on the coast around Manly, shooting sunrise on the beaches and underwater in the local marine reserves. This is where my love for photography developed.
A few years later, I blended my passion for photography with my love for travel. Five years on and I am thrilled to be working as a full-time travel photographer and videographer.
My favourite spot to photograph in the Whitsunday Islands is without a doubt Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island. The turquoise water and pristine white sand beach is truly jaw-dropping and looks absolutely spectacular in photographs.
Highlights of My Travels to the Whitsunday Islands
I was fortunate to visit the Whitsundays for the first time just over a year ago. I went to a reef and Whitehaven Beach shoot for Cruise Whitsundays. This is when I caught the bug and I have been back several times since.
Hardy Reef, Haselwood Island, Whitehaven Beach and the Lindeman Island group are a few of my favourite spots. The highlight definitely being the night I spent in Australia’s first ever underwater hotel, Reef Suites.
My favourite memory of the Whitsundays is actually the first time I saw one of the Airlie Beach Backyard Sessions. This is a chilled night of watching live acoustic music at a secret backyard location.
I met a great group of people who have since become some of my best friends. It’s a small-town experience that you would just never find in Sydney.
Best Experiences in the Whitsunday Islands: The Heart of the Great Barrier Reef
There are two absolute must-do’s for anyone visiting the Whitsundays: visit the famous Whitehaven Beach and go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. Every time I visit I try to squeeze in both of these because there is nowhere else in the world quite the same.
As for the third, there are a myriad of other options which include a helicopter flight over Hill Inlet, a night at Australia’s first ever underwater hotel, a snorkelling day-trip to Heart Pontoon, driving golf buggies around Hamilton Island…there are just too many to choose from.
Spectacular Hidden Beaches in the Whitsunday Islands
I’ve been very lucky to have seen some of the best hidden gems of the Whitsundays, exploring with local friends I have made over my last few visits. So believe me when I say that Whitehaven Beach really is just the tip of the iceberg for spectacular Whitsundays beaches.
Betty’s Beach at Whitehaven is a beautiful secluded cove hidden in plain sight. Catseye Beach on Hamilton Island is a postcard perfect beach ideal for relaxing with a cocktail. Then there’s the secluded Naked Lady Beach on Thomas Island which is my personal favourite.
Of course, there are plenty of other local secrets you’ll just have to discover on your own.
Where to Stay in the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef
I have stayed at a few different places during my visits to the Whitsundays, but none more amazing than Cruise Whitsundays’ Reef World.
Situated on the Great Barrier Reef just metres from the coral, there are two ‘room’ options at Reef World. There’s Reef Sleep, a luxury double tent under the stars, or Reef Suites, an underwater hotel room with floor to ceiling views to the underwater world outside.
This has to be the ultimate accommodation option in the Whitsundays.
Rich Sealife of the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef
The Whitsundays is one of the most diverse underwater environments in the world, due in most part to the biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef that lies on the doorstep of the islands.
Thousands of species of fish, sharks, whales, turtles and rays can commonly be seen on the reefs and in the channels around the islands. I have swum with more turtles than I can recall and even watched one cruise past my bedroom window from the underwater hotel suite at Reef World.
How the Whitsundays are Coping with Climate Change
Like a lot of the world’s most beautiful destinations, the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef are currently facing some pretty tough environmental pressures.
The marine parks are incredibly well protected and the vast majority is still pristine and untouched, but coral bleaching and natural disasters have hit the region pretty hard in the last decade.
Appropriate management of the issues at hand will be critical in the effort to protect the region’s natural attractions.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
My first tip would be to try to get out to the secluded islands and the reef as much as possible. This is really where the gems of the Whitsundays lie. The great thing is the majority of the top spots are accessible to almost everyone regardless of your budget.
There are affordable group tours to Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, the Great Barrier Reef and the islands. So be prepared for a jam-packed itinerary and make the most of your time in the Whitsundays.
My second tip is to pack reef-safe sunscreen and a comfy pair of togs. You’ll be spending the majority of your trip with both of these very close by. Thanks for reading my guide on the Whitsunday Islands!