When you picture Australia one of the first images that comes to mind is Whitehaven Beach in The Whitsundays. You might not even realize it, but that picture perfect view of the swirling sand bars in the ocean is always what springs to mind for me. And you can experience it for yourself at the very edge of Whitehaven Beach, right in the heart of The Whitsundays.
Exploring Whitehaven Beach was our top priority when we were booking our trip to Hamilton Island and The Whitsundays, a lifelong bucket list item. We spent a whole day exploring this beautiful part of coastal Queensland with the incredible crew at Cruise Whitsundays. Whitehaven Beach is an iconic Aussie destination, often rated as Australia’s #1 beach and winning tourism awards! It’s one of those places that is so untouched and pristine that you can’t help but be amazed.
The day started with a pick up from Hamilton Island Marina at about 8am and we took off for Whitsunday Island – the largest island in The Whitsundays. The cruise time was only about half an hour, so it was an easy and incredibly scenic trip through the many islands of The Whitsundays and out to Whitehaven Beach. There are actually 74 islands that make up The Whitsundays, with our ferry cruising around many of them as we made our way into the heart of The Whitsundays. As part of the full day tour, we were given our itinerary and a run down of the day on board, as well as our own personal esky packed with our lunch and snacks, and before we knew it we had arrived on some of the purest white sand in the world.
Whitehaven Beach stretches 7km long across the southern coast of Whitsunday Island, offering visitors plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a little part of the beach all to yourself. The luminous white colour of the sand is due to the sand being made of 98.9% pure silica, which also keeps the sand a lovely cool temperature. No running from your towel to the water like your feet are on fire here, you can easily walk around all day with no shoes and no worries. Just the way it should be! We spent the first few hours of our day relaxing on Whitehaven Beach – swimming in some of the clearest water we’ve ever seen, eating snacks on the sand and exploring the island from the sky with our Mavic Pro (where we think we might just have found some of the best views).
Just after midday we boarded a smaller boat and headed over to Betty’s Beach, the home of the Hill Inlet Lookout, offering you those breathtaking views that Australia is all about. We left our bags under a tree on the beach (perhaps guarded by a young girl on a rope swing?) and headed off on the quite easy but incredibly humid 1.2km walk to the lookout. The Cruise Whitsundays crew offer a guided tour up to the inlet, pointing out unique flora and telling stories of the local area, while letting everyone walk and explore at their own pace. The Lookout offers you beautiful views over both Hill Inlet, and also Betty’s Beach below, where a small lagoon and angled sandbars create their own unique view.
As the tides shift throughout the day the white sand and blue hues of the water in the inlet mix together to create some beautiful patterns and reflections. The tide will determine the contrast of the white and blue when you visit. If you’re visiting during the low tide you can often see complete sandbars swirling around the inlet and cutting through the blue ocean, while visiting during a higher tide means that the inlet is almost completely blue, with darker and lighter shades mixing together to create the perfect image (like ours).
We spent the next hour or so relaxing on Betty’s Beach at the bottom of the Inlet hike. It might be a big call, but I think I might have loved Betty’s Beach even more than Whitehaven! Not many tours take you to Betty’s – with most dropping you off at Tongue Bay on the other side to explore the lookout – so we had this piece of paradise all to ourselves! Betty’s Beach is right at the bottom of the inlet (so you can also check it out from the lookout) and the water is so warm, you could easily stay in it all day until your skin is all wrinkly and shriveled. There are often turtles and stingrays swimming around these warmer waters too, so keep your eyes peeled for any ocean friends!
Making the short journey back to Whitehaven Beach, there are a couple of different options for how you can spend the rest of your time on Whitsunday Island. The Cruise Whitsundays crew offer a couple of different walks that you can take in the afternoon that explore more of this epic island. The Solway Circuit Lookout walk takes you on a short 1.2km (30 minute) hike offering stunning views over Solway Passage, Pentecost and Haslewood Islands. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can continue from the Solway Circuit to Chance Bay on the other side. The walk to Chance Bay takes you 6km (90 minutes return) through Whitsunday Island’s forest and woodlands to a completely secluded beach on the other side, offering you time to take it all in and have a dip before heading back.
If relaxing is more your thing though, there’s no pressure to hike – you can spend your afternoon relaxing and swimming back at the Whitehaven Beach camp. There is no shade on Whitehaven Beach, so Cruise Whitsundays have a bunch of beach tents that you can use for the day. I definitely recommend hopping on that offer early and creating yourself a little beach home for the day. It’s the perfect place to store all your belongings and your lunch eskys while you’re swimming and exploring the island. Unfortunately we were a bit too slow to claim one and missed out in the morning, with a few sunburns to show for it the next day! When the half day groups swapped over though we were able to grab one for the afternoon and it gave us some much needed relief from the sun and a great place to relax for the rest of our day.
The finer details of the Ultimate Whitehaven Beach Hike, Hill Inlet and Lookout Tour with Cruise Whitsundays:
- You can jump on the full day Ultimate Whitehaven Experience from both Airlie Beach (departing at 7am) and Hamilton Island (departing at 8:05am).
- The tour costs $220AUD per adult ($110AUD per child) for the full day tour and includes lunch, afternoon tea, snacks and use of all equipment.
- On the beach the crew had water, beach shades and beach games for you to use throughout the day. You can also purchase soft drinks for $2 – bring a few coins to make things easier.
- The summer season is stinger season in The Whitsundays and Tropical North Queensland. These stingers can be completely transparent and very small, making them very difficult to spot in the water. For your safety you can grab a stinger suit on the ferry before you land on the beach, to keep you covered up in the water and prevent the stingers from getting close to you!
- There’s a toilet block located closed by to the Cruise Whitsundays marquee on the beach.
We had a phenomenal day exploring the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays. I can not recommend the Ultimate Whitehaven Beach Hike & Hill Inlet Lookout Full Day Tour highly enough. We chose it because of the extended amount of time you got to spend exploring the Hill Inlet Lookout and Betty’s Beach – as half day tours do not have enough time to get there – and it was honestly the absolute highlight of our day and something to remember!
A huge thank you to Cruise Whitsundays for inviting us onboard to experience the ultimate day on Whitehaven Beach. We had an amazing time and cannot recommend highly enough. All opinions are of course, our own.