If you have stumbled across this guide, you are more than likely contemplating a trip to the famous Whitsundays. If that is the case – if you’re even considering visiting these islands… DO IT! Seriously. You will not regret it, that I say with confidence. The Whitsundays are a group of islands located on the coast of Queensland. Visiting these islands was actually one of the best travel experiences I’ve had to date and a definite highlight of Australia.
I have so much to tell you about this adventure, and so much to show you! Let’s dive right in so that you are completely prepared for your own Whitsundays jaunt, I’m hoping the below guide will be plenty for you to go off.
Choosing Your Tour
Like any great adventure, you need to start by deciding on your mode of transport. If you really want to get to know The Whitsundays, you’ll want to do so by boat and for this, you’ll need to decide on a sailing tour company.
There are many different companies to choose from so I’d strongly advise that you do some research. I naively booked my Whitsundays tour with Mike when we first arrived in Melbourne, which was only around 6 weeks prior to actually embarking on the tour. Do not do this. We later discovered that everyone else on our trip had booked months in advance, so we were extremely lucky to have snagged a couple of spots. For this kind of trip, you really want to avoid disappointment and plan ahead.
I must warn you that sailing The Whitsundays does not come cheap, but the prices aren’t totally preposterous. If you’re exploring the whole East Coast of Australia, as I did, you’ll most likely have mapped out a few key activities you want to do that cost a little more. This is one of them, so set some budget aside. As I said, Mike and I did not plan ahead (lesson learned), so the tour we booked seemed a little on the pricey side when I first heard the figure. The trip we booked onto was only for 2 nights/3 days, but it’s important to remember that you wakeup when the sun rises so the days are long. You are sleeping on a boat, after all!
A lot of Whitsundays trips targeting 20-year-olds+ appear to be marketed as party packages. Not really my vibe. I left that version of myself behind in Zante a fair few years ago and though the memories are fond, I have no desire to relive them. Especially if I’m forking out for an exceptional experience halfway across the world. The party packages actually fall into the same price range as the tour we opted for in addition to foam party’s, crude drinking games, and a little more nudity than you bargained for.
That being said, there are plenty of other options out there. Mike and I booked onto the ‘Powerplay’ excursion; a decision we do not regret. Powerplay is marketed as a couples and single-girls-only boat (sorry gents). I suppose they think this means slightly calmer clientele, as opposed to the group on the ‘Spank Me’ boat. I’m serious, this boat exists. Please let me know if you opted for this one.
If you don’t really want to sail The Whitsundays, there are alternatives out there. Especially if you’re not too worried about budgets. The most direct mode of transport would be to charter a helicopter or seaplane, provided you are staying on one of the islands.
Details on the Powerplay Catamaran
As mentioned above, we opted for the Powerplay sailing tour – a tour that included many benefits. Contrary to the party boat, we had an onboard jacuzzi, 2 trampoline nets to laze about on, and a really really nice crew. The crew even prepare all of your meals for you as part of the package deal. I know, I know, it just keeps on getting better! Other features of the catamaran include:
- Private cabins: There aren’t many of these so be sure to snap yours up or you’ll end up sleeping on the top deck with your fellow sailors.
- A shower: 30-second showers are permitted per person, per day. Mainly to rinse off excess saltwater.
- Snorkelling gear: No need to worry about bringing your own.
- Scuba diving gear: There is an added fee for scuba diving, but it’s always nice to have options!
- Paddle Boards: For obvious fun related reasons
- Underwater blue lights: At night you can see the amazing creatures that come out to play. Apparently, some people actually partake in night time snorkelling sessions, but I can’t see myself signing up for that one anytime soon…
The Travel Group
Our Catamaran tour consisted of 18 guests and 3 crew members. As previously mentioned, the guests aboard the Powerplay Catamaran were usually couples/relatively calm individuals only. For our trip at least, this wasn’t really the case. The couple part I mean. In fact, we were the only couple on board, so don’t worry about third-wheeling! We were quite a diverse bunch. There were a few siblings, a few solo female travellers, a group of friends, and a family (no young children though).
As for the crew, we had our Skipper, one regular crew member and one trainee crew member. The entire crew were incredibly fun and friendly. They were professional and informative, teaching us about the islands, the wildlife and the history of the area. They were also just amazingly kind, cooking and cleaning for us the whole time we were on board.
For the most part, the crew brought the whole group together. I’m not usually one for organised fun, but their ice breakers and general laugh-a-minute attitudes made for a great few days. Which is hugely important when you’re all living in such close proximity.
What to Pack
- Swimwear: And more swimwear. You basically don’t need any clothes except for PJ’s.
- Towels and toiletries: For obvious reasons.
- Seasickness medication: Many people commit to a 3-day boat tour without realising they suffer from seasickness. The numbers are quite surprising! If you’re unsure, make sure to pack some just in case.
- Ziplock bags / Sandwich bags: Whatever you call them, bring them. Your electronics will thank you later. The tiny grains of sand at Whitehaven beach have many benefits but they do cling to everything. When you visit, make sure to keep your cameras and phones in these ziplock bags whenever you aren’t using them.
- Alcohol: Only if you want it. You not allowed to bring any glass onto most of the catamaran tours; Prepare in advance and siphon your nice vino into a plastic bottle. You can buy alcohol down by the marina where you board, but I’m talking beers and boxed wine only.
- S U N C R E A M
If you are interested to know what our days sailing around the Whitsundays consisted of in more detail, you can check it out here!