The Queensland coast is spectacularly long – thousands of kilometres of beaches, towns, cities and rainforests. Halfway between the Gold Coast and Cape York in central Queensland, the Whitsundays are right in the middle of it. Getting here is a breeze, by air, road or rail.
The Whitsundays are serviced by two domestic airports: Whitsunday Coast Airport on the mainland at Proserpine, and Hamilton Island Airport.
Direct domestic flights with Qantas, Virgin Australia, Tigerair and Jetstar arrive from Australia’s east-coast hubs: an hour from Cairns, 90 minutes from Brisbane, 2.5 hours from Sydney and 3 hours from Melbourne.
Whitsunday Coast Airport is 38kms inland from Airlie Beach. Hire a car at the airport or pre-book a shuttle into Airlie Beach. If you’re arriving via Hamilton Island, our island resort services connect you with the airport and Airlie Beach.
Queensland Rail operates the ‘Spirit of Queensland’ train between Brisbane and Cairns, stopping at Proserpine along the way.
It’s a 14-hour journey from Brisbane and 9.5 hours from Cairns, with trains departing both cities five times weekly.
‘RailBus’ coaches run between Proserpine Train Station and Airlie Beach, connecting with each arrival and departure.
On the Bus
Queensland’s main long-distance coach operators are Greyhound Australia and Premier Motor Service.
Both companies run daily services to Airlie Beach from Brisbane (19 hours) and Cairns (10.5 hours), and major towns in between.
The Bruce Hwy (A1) runs roughly parallel to the Queensland coast between Brisbane and Cairns. The turnoff to Airlie Beach is 1km north of Proserpine; from here it’s a 24km, 20-minute drive into town.
Airlie Beach is a 12.5-hour drive from Brisbane (1100km), 7.5 hours from Cairns (625km), three hours from Townsville (275km) and two hours from Mackay (150km).
The Whitsundays enjoys a tropical climate of hot summers, warm winters and bright spring and autumn days. Average daily temperatures range from around 22 to 23 degrees celsius in the winter months of June and July, and up to 29 to 30 degrees celsius in December and January during the height of summer. Water temperatures remain a welcoming 25 degrees celsius most of the year round.
The tropical wet season occurs during January to March when days can be steamy, and the summer heat is often broken by tropical showers.
Marine stingers may be present in the waters year round, with the higher risk season during October – May. During this period, jellyfish are prevalent in the waters around the mainland, islands and have occasionally been found out on the reef. It is recommended that our guests wear stinger suits which are provided free of charge on our Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach tours.
Day cruises departing Airlie Beach
All of our day cruises depart from our Maritime Terminal at 24 The Cove Road, Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach. The terminal features convenient airport style check-in and baggage conveyor belts, a large café with indoor and outdoor eating areas, a gift shop and comfortable seated waiting areas. Upon booking, you will be given a day cruise departure time. Check in is 30-40 minutes prior to your departure time.
Day cruises departing Hamilton Island
Our day cruises depart from the main marina opposite the Ice Cream Parlour at Hamilton Island. You’ll be required to catch a coach from your resort to the marina, please check with your resort reception for coach times. Upon booking, you will be given a day cruise departure time. Check in is 30-40 minutes prior to your departure time.
Island resort connections
We offer transfers from Port of Airlie, Hamilton Island Airport, Hamilton Island Marina, and Shute Harbour. Check in is 30 minutes prior to your departure time. Please note luggage check-in closes 15 minutes before departure.
If you are travelling on one of our day tours we recommend you bring your swimwear, a beach towel, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, comfortable shoes, a light jacket or sweater to protect against the wind and cooler weather, as well as a credit card or cash for snacks, drinks and optional activities.
If you are booked on our Reefsleep experience, in addition to the above, please bring one small overnight bag with your toiletries and a change of clothes.
Yes, please reconfirm your booking the day prior to your scheduled departure by contacting our reservations team. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07 4846 7000.
No show and 24 hours or less notice cancellation is 100% of fare. 24 hours – 48 hours 50% of fare. Transfer to another Cruise Whitsundays cruise with more than 48 hours’ notice incurs no fee and is subject to availability. Transfer to another Cruise Whitsundays cruise with less than 48 hours’ notice is subject to availability and if new fare is less then no refund will be made and if new fare is higher payment of the difference is required.
Full payment on Reefsleep must be received 7 days prior to departure. Cancellations must be provided in writing. No show and 24 hours or less notice cancellation fee is 100% of fare. 24 hours – 72 hours – 50% of fare. 3 – 7 days 25% of fare.
National Parks have recently installed two large covered areas to provide shade for visitors to Whitehaven Beach, as there is limited natural shade available. To assist our guests at Whitehaven Beach we also have two large marquees set up to provide additional cover. We can also provide individual sun shades, please ask your onboard crew for further details (subject to availability).
It takes approximately 3 hours to get to Hardy Reef from Airlie Beach, depending on the weather and sea conditions. For Hamilton Island departures, travel time is approximately 2 hours.
Luggage cannot be taken on our day tours, however if you are travelling as a house guest or to Hamilton Island Airport we will be more than happy to porter your luggage for you. Simply check-in your bags when you check in for your transfer. Luggage check-in closes 15 minutes prior to the vessel departing.
Snorkelling is available for guests travelling on our Camira Sailing Adventure, Reefsleep and Great Barrier Reef Full Day Adventure. Snorkelling equipment (mask, snorkel & flippers) is available free of charge for guests booked on these tours.
Scuba diving is available (at an additional cost) for guests travelling on the Great Barrier Reef Full Day Adventure. We provide our guests with the opportunity to dive, whether certified or introductory, guided by one of Cruise Whitsundays’ qualified instructors.
Please note: Age and medical restrictions apply to diving activities. A medical questionnaire must be completed. Divers cannot fly for 24 hours after diving and the company accepts no liability for medical conditions experienced as a result of flying after diving. All diving is operated by Reef Safari Pty Ltd and booking to dive with them deems acceptance of the terms and conditions as published on their website www.reefsafari.com.
Most of our Resort Connection vessels are wheelchair friendly, however for day tours & semi-submarine tours at Hardy Reef vessels are accessible by stairs, making them inaccessible for guests who are totally wheelchair dependent. For semi-mobile wheelchair users travelling to Whitehaven Beach, we have a beach wheelchair available. Please inform our reservations team when booking if you would like to use this chair while at the beach.
Home to an explosion of colourful marine life, the Whitsundays’ natural environment is truly special. Offshore you’ll find six of the world’s seven species of turtle, along with delicate coral reefs and migrating humpback whales, who frequent the area from June to October.
Thirty-two of the islands are protected as the Whitsunday Islands National Park – including Whitsunday, Hook, Hamilton and Hayman – but it remains our responsibility to reduce human impact as much as possible.
Leave shells and plants where you find them: the only thing you should take with you is your rubbish.
Don’t rush to flush and take short showers: fresh water is precious on the islands.
Never touch or stand on coral, even if you are wearing flippers.
Never touch marine life (fish, turtles etc) – human bacteria can make them sick.
For more on Cruise Whitsundays’ approach to eco-tourism, visit our Environmental Commitment page.