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Wondering what to do in the Whitsundays on your next east-coast adventure?
In this article, I’m going to share my top 7 fun adventure activities to do at the Whitsundays.
These are perfect for people, like me, who are fun and adventurous at heart.
If you’d like to see a visual of the experiences I did, ensure to watch the video below. I must say – it was a lot of fun recording this!
1) Set Sail Between the Whitsunday Islands
Whatever your reason for visiting the Whitsundays, sailing between the islands is an experience that you simply cannot miss.
The Whitsundays is known as the best region in Australia to enjoy sailing and is home to 74 tropical islands – all with magnificent beaches and secluded bays.
Sailing is the perfect way to get up close to the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Whitsundays and enjoy the Great Barrier Reef.
Navigate the Waters Aboard the Providence V
During my time in Airlie Beach, I had the opportunity to sail through the Whitsunday islands on the Providence V.
Providence V is a classic 62-foot gaff-rigged schooner, a replica of the American Blackfish schooners, which were some of the first boats to compete in America’s Cup.
Throughout our journey, we:
- Set sail around the Whitsunday Islands
- Had time to explore Whitehaven Beach
- and snorkel within the Great Barrier Reef
Here are some of the highlights from my trip:
Although snorkelling was included in this tour, the dive site we visited was pretty mediocre. Not a lot to see (coral or fish) and the visibility was average.
This isn’t really the fault of the tour operators because visibility is impacted heavily by the weather and season. Being a scuba diver, I may naturally have high expectations.
If you’d like to learn more about the Providence sailing adventure, you can click on the link below.
The “Camira” Whitsundays Full-day Catamaran Sailing Trip
If sailing on an old-style ship isn’t your thing, here are some other popular Whitsunday sailing tours you can check out.
Another eco-friendly company, Cruise Whitsundays, will take you on the adventure of a lifetime aboard their beautiful catamaran, The Camira.
Experience the wonders of the Whitsunday islands on this full-day catamaran cruise from Airlie Beach.
On this 10-hour cruise you will get to sail azure waters, visit the famous Whitehaven Beach, and hike to the Hill Inlet lookout on Whitsunday Island.
You will also enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch with a beer or glass of wine and the chance to lie out on their spacious deck to bask in the sun.
What I like most about this tour is that they take the time to educate you about the Whitsunday traditional owners (the Ngaro people), the history of the island and flora on the island. There aren’t many sailing tours that do this.
If you want the best of all worlds (sailing, wine and beach time) and aren’t fussed about snorkelling, then definitely check out the Camira.
Hamilton Island: Whitehaven and Chalkies Sail & Snorkel Tour
If you’re planning to stay on Hamilton Island, this Catamaran tour may offer a more convenient solution for you.
Hosted by Explore Group Australia, you’ll get to cruise around the Whitsundays in style aboard their purpose-built sailing catamaran.
As part of the journey, you’ll visit some of the world’s most iconic destinations including Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven Beach.
You’ll also get a chance to go snorkelling at Chalkies beach and witness an array of exotic and diverse marine life, including turtles.
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2) Take Stunning Photos at the Whitehaven Beach Lookout
One of the most famous places to visit in the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach. And for good reason…
This stunning tourist attraction has often been named one of the TOP 10 most beautiful beaches in the WORLD and Australia’s #1 Best Beach.
In 2021, Whitehaven Beach even took out the gold, labelled as the #1 Best 2021 Beach in the World, by TripAdvisor.
I’ve probably set your expectations pretty high now, ey.
Whitehaven Beach is best known for its bright white sands, which consist of 98% pure silica, and stunning swirls of turquoise water. It is believed that the silica sands were brought to the beach by prevailing sea currents over millions of years.
At Whitehaven Beach, you’ll get to walk to Hill Inlet lookout on Whitsunday Island, which has become one of the most photographed locations in Australia.
There are a number of ways that you can get to the island, however most are paid tours departing from Airlie beach and surrounds.
Some of the more popular tours that visit Whitehaven Beach include:
I have linked each of them above so you can check them out for yourself.
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3) Explore the Conway National Park Rainforest on a Segway
Keen for an adventurous land experience at Airlie Beach?
If you’re stuck on what to do in the Whitsundays after sailing around the islands, why not try a segway tour through the Conway National Park Rainforest.
There is only one company that does this, Whitsunday Segway Tours.
As part of the Rainforest Segway Tour, you’ll get to ride on your own segway through 9kms of this spectacular rainforest.
It’s the perfect way to enjoy all the sights and sounds of this stunning tropical rainforest, but with a more adventurous twist.
Read more about my segway experience with Whitsunday Segway Tours here.
If you have some free time and want to check out my super exciting highlights video, you can watch it below.
4) Go Scuba Diving / Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef
Diving in the Great Barrier Reef is a popular bucket list item for most travellers in the Whitsundays. But, the quality of diving and snorkelling here can vary significantly depending on when and where you go.
Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays HARD back in 2017. Sadly, it destroyed much of the reefs and island vegetation in its path.
Even today, you can see the lasting impacts of Cyclone Debbie, with many of the trees stripped off their leaves, broken coral dispersed onto the beaches and underwater ecosystems destroyed.
I first tried snorkelling with Whitsunday Sailing, but found the dive site to be a touch disappointing. I then tried snorkelling with Red Cat Adventures and the experience was a lot better.
Possibly due to going to a different dive site.
Although there wasn’t a lot of coral to see at the second and third dive site, the sea life and fish were awesome.
I got to swim with Frankie, the giant Maori Wrasse, and multiple sea turtles as they glided through the reef.
If you’re keen to go snorkelling but don’t want to be disappointed, here are some popular snorkelling tours with raving reviews:
These may help you to narrow down your options:
- Thundercat – Red Cat Adventures
- Airlie Beach: Outer Great Barrier Reef ReefWorld Pontoon
- Whitsundays Ocean Rafting Tour: Snorkel, Walk & Whitehaven
5) View the Reef From the Skies
Want to witness the Whitsundays from the skies?
Why not check out some of these awesome scenic flight experiences.
Scenic Flight Experiences
Flying over the Whitsundays is an experience like no other. It’s also the only way to get a bird’s eye view of the stunning Heart Reef.
There are even some seaplane tours that you can do which give you the best of both worlds – time to explore Whitehaven Beach and also the chance to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.
GSL Aviation Whitsundays offer some pretty cool scenic flight tours. From what I can see they are the main flight company operating at Airlie Beach.
This could be an awesome adventure activity to do at the Whitsundays! Some of their tours even include other activities in addition to flying.
You can view some of their main experiences on Get Your Guide, via the links below.
- Whitsunday Islands High-Speed Cruise and Scenic Plane Flight
- From Airlie Beach: Whitehaven Beach Seaplane Tour with Lunch
Aerobatics Flight Experiences
If you’re up for an even more extreme adventure, consider doing an Aerobatics flight from Airlie Beach.
CQ Adventure Flights are the main aerobatics flight company in the Whitsundays.
Take to the skies in a Yak52, a 1990’s Soviet Air Force Training aeroplane, for the flight of your life.
You’ll be flipped upside-down, maneuvered from side to side and get the true feeling of what it’s like to be in a combat.
You’ll even reach pressures of up to 5G as the mighty Yak52 performs a varying aerobatic routine against the stunning backdrop of Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays.
Given the plane only seats yourself and your pilot, the flights are fully catered to what you’d like to do. This allows you to choose the flight intensity – whether it’s gentle or mental!
Another benefit of this tour, compared to other tours in the Whitsundays, is that you don’t have to share the experience with anybody else.
It’s all yours to enjoy!
I didn’t get the chance to personally try this experience, however from their website it looks incredibly fun. I wish I had more time in the Whitsundays to give this adrenaline-packed experience a go.
You can learn more about their experiences here.
6) Do Your First Skydive Over Airlie Beach
Feeling brave? Skydiving is definitely another adrenaline-pumping activity to do at the Whitsundays.
What an incredible way to tick this exhilarating experience off your bucket list.
I tried skydiving and loved it so much that I’m intending to do my second tandem skydive at the end of this year.
If you’re an adventure adrenaline-junkie like me, this can be a great way to add some sizzle to your trip.
Skydiving Australia is the main company that offers skydiving in the Whitsundays, from Airlie Beach.
They offer a tandem skydive activity which allows you to have the most exhilarating feeling of freefall whilst marvelling at the stunning views of Airlie Beach, the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.
You can learn more about their experience below.
7) Zip Around the Islands on a Jet Ski / Jet Boat
If you haven’t ridden a Jet Ski before, this is definitely a MUST on your Whitsundays journey.
A Jet Ski tour is also a great way to have fun if you’re with a group, as you can fly your way around the Airlie Beach coast together.
Jet Boat Tours
Enjoy an exhilarating ride on one of the fastest boats in the Whitsundays with Ocean Rafting.
On their Whitsundays Ocean Rafting Tour, you’ll get the chance to ride, beach, snorkel and bush walk… all in one day!
Departing from Airlie Beach, you’ll venture to the world famous, Whitehaven beach where you will have around 2 hours to enjoy this stunning natural wonder. You’ll then have the opportunity to snorkel at 1-2 dive sites.
Given the speed of the boat – you’ll get more time for activities and exploring the islands, and less time on the boat.
Another great Jet boat company in the Whitsundays, is Pioneer Adventures. They even give you the opportunity to have a “banana boat” experience.
You can check out both of these tours on Get Your Guide below:
Jet Ski Rides
If you prefer to have a need for speed, a Jet Ski ride could be a great thing for you to do at the Whitsundays.
Hop on a Jet Ski from Airlie Beach, and start exploring the scenic bays, the coastline and the turquoise waters of the Whitsundays Islands at high speed.
And the best part… you don’t need a boat or watercraft licence to ride a Jet Ski on this tour.
During the safari, your guide will also provide you with an informative commentary about the area with plenty of opportunities to take photos along the way.
To learn more about GSL Aviations Jet Ski Safari, click on the link below.
So there you have it: 7 Fun Adventure Activities to Try at the Whitsundays.
Here’s a short list to help you choose:
- Set sail between the Whitsunday Islands
- Take stunning photos at the Whitehaven Beach Lookout
- Explore the Conway National Park Rainforest on a segway
- Go snorkelling or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
- View the reef from the skies in a special plane
- Do you first skydive over Airlie Beach
- Zip around the islands on a Jet Ski or Jet Boat