The Whitsunday Islands, Queensland

  • The Whitsunday Islands. Photo credit: Tourism AustraliaThe Whitsunday Islands. Photo credit: Tourism Australia

The Whitsunday Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Queensland, and in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.  With 74 islands, many or which are uninhabited and unspoilt, this is the largest island chain you will find along Australia's coast.  White sand beaches, sea and miles of blue sky make the Whitsundays an enduringly popular tourist destination.

There are a number of resorts on the Whitsunday Islands, which may well be miles outside of most student's budgets, but it's hard to put a price on natural beauty and you can still enjoy the Whitsundays by camping in one of the 34 island campsites.  The largest - Whitsunday Island itself - is designated and run as a National Park.  There is not much going on there and no resorts which means that there are plenty of secluded spots to get away from visiting day tourists.

How to get there

The Whitsundays are 1120km north of Brisbane, with flights available to two of the resort islands from Brisbane airport.  Although, the area is also accessible with coach services to Airlie Beach from Greyhound Australia, Premier and Oz Experience, or by Queensland Rail to Proserpine.  A multitude of taxis and transit buses are available to transfer to Airlie beach and the island resorts should you need it.  There are all sorts of ferry packages available from Airlie Beach, for getting around and to the islands whether you decide to go on a day trip, or stay over on one of the islands.

Another option for getting to, and around the Whitsundays is to sail!  A range of cruises are available from Airlie Beach for a 3 day trip, although you may find better (student friendly) deals available through agents like STA Travel, so it's worth having a look.

What to do

The main activity on the Whitsundays would probably be chilling out on the beach, with swimming and snorkelling a close second!  In winter (June til September) humpback whales pass the Whitsundays on their migration North, and whales are sighted almost daily, a trip on any boat around this time gives you an opportunity to spot one.

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