The Whitsundays is home to one of the top 5 beaches in the world, 74 islands and a mainland protected by the Great Barrier Reef, so it’s pretty easy to understand then why so many couples are turning their backs on overseas honeymoons when we have this practically on our doorstep.
Never being one to shy away from an adventure, I jumped on a plane to see what the Whitsundays had to offer. All in the name of research, of course!
I know what you’re thinking “But you already live in paradise!” These were my thoughts exactly, so that’s why I knew I’d be a little harder than most to impress. Let me tell you, the Whitsundays really brought its A-game.
Is This the Honeymoon for You?
Lovers and travel aficionados, you’ll be in your element if your idea of the perfect honeymoon involves turquoise blue water, sun, sand and outdoors adventure with a side of relaxation.
When To Go
The Whitsundays boasts a tropical climate, which means perfect warm winter, spring and autumn days and hot summers. I visited in winter and the climate was ideal, sitting at between 22-25 degrees every day. The water temperature is approximately 25 degrees celsius pretty much all year round, so you can even swim in winter.
Wet season runs from January through to March. This is when days can be steamy and the afternoon tropical showers are always welcome.
Although there is a higher risk of marine stingers in the waters of North Queensland from October – May, you don’t need to worry, because the locals have the protective stinger suits you need at little or no cost at all. There’s 8 million visitors travelling to this region every year, however very few are stung by dangerous stingers.
Located in Queensland’s tropical central coast, The Whitsundays is easily accessible from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Flights don’t currently run direct from the Sunshine Coast, but it’s an easy 1 hour drive to fly from Brisbane Airport.
You can fly direct from Brisbane with Virgin Australia, Jetstar or Qantas, to either the Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine) or the Great Barrier Reef Airport (on Hamilton Island) in about 1.5 hours.
Flights are also available direct from Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns.
Airlie Beach is 40 minutes drive from the airport, therefore you’ll need to organise a transfer. Skip the airport line ups by pre-booking your transfer with Whitsundays to Everywhere, who meet every single flight and offer a personalised service that drops you right to the door of your accommodation.
Feeling a little more adventurous? Combine your honeymoon with your first road trip together as newlyweds. From the Sunshine Coast you simply drive north on the Bruce Highway. Allow approximately 11.5 hours to drive from the Sunshine Coast to Airlie Beach.
Where to Stay
Airlie Beach is right in the middle of the Whitsundays and overlooks the bay and islands. It’s the perfect place to base yourself when travelling to the Whitsundays, because it’s the major departure point to visit the islands.
Luxury accommodation right on the waterfront, with uninterrupted views of the Coral Sea and a bunch of the Whitsunday islands. I highly recommend waking up a little earlier to watch the sunrise from your balcony. I’m not usually a super-early riser, but it was so worth it!
Options at the Mirage Whitsundays range from one, two and three bedroom apartments to two and three storey villas. Book the four bedroom penthouse though if you decide to bring your tribe of kids along. You won’t regret it!
The resort also has two large lagoon pools, an outdoor oasis spa and plenty of sundecks to lounge on whilst you enjoy a cocktail (or ten!). The main town of Airlie Beach is an easy 15-20 minute stroll along a waterfront boardwalk.
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Peppers Airlie Beach
Peppers Airlie Beach is centrally located and looks out over the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday passage. There’s a selection of newly renovated one, two and three bedroom apartments with ocean views, large balconies. My bathroom had the biggest spa bath I’ve ever seen in a resort room.
I sampled some of the best breakfasts in Airlie Beach right here at the resort’s Tides Restaurant and Bar. This place has grown a pretty strong reputation for itself, with lots of locals and other tourists visiting to dine here.
After a big day out exploring, you’ll want to head straight to their wet edge pool. Grab a cocktail, lay back in the sun lounges, because the sunsets from here are next level.
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Staying at the largest Whitsundays Island resort means you’ll never be short of activities, pristine beaches and a wide variety of coral and marine life practically at your door step.
There’s six different accommodation options, from luxury and standard apartments right through to holiday homes.
The resort is also home to Australia’s only 18-hole championship course on an island, so if you can be convinced to have a round of golf, just take first dibs on driving the golf cart. That’s always the fun part, right?
Hayman + Daydream Island
I based myself at Airlie Beach, because most of the other island resorts were still closed for renovations and upgrades, post Cyclone Debbie. Hayman Island is expected to reopen in July 2019 and Daydream Island have a planned reopening in April 2019.
What to Experience
With so much to see, do and taste in the Whitsundays, you’ll need to allow at least 10 days to enjoy a good range of the exciting adventures and relaxation on offer.
I’ve travelled to 44 different countries and this helicopter scenic flight is up there with one of the best experiences of my life! GSL Aviation flew me along the coastline and as if the turquoise blue water, fringing coral reef, secluded beaches and national parks weren’t enough, we even saw a few manta rays.
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Thundercat Boat Day Trip
Sure you could spend a week sailing around the Whitsundays, but why would you when you can see a bunch of the Whitsunday Islands all in just one day? Swimming and snorkelling is a must on this trip and I guarantee you will be surprised by the abundance of marine life. I had fish swimming through my hair!
When I visited in early August, the Humpback Whales were also in town, so breaching, tail slaps and a newborn baby were all part of the action.
The Red Cat Adventures Thundercat is designed for stability and speed, so there’s no need to be concerned about sea sickness.
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With 7km of white sand and sparkling turquoise blue water, Whitehaven Beach lives up to its best beach in Australia and the 5th best beach in the world status. The sand is 98% silica, so even on a hot day you can walk barefoot without burning your feet.
While you’re here, take the easy walk to see Hills Inlet. The views from the top provide the ultimate Insta loved-up honeymoon backdrop, guaranteed to make everyone back at home jealous.
Picnic on a Secluded Beach
Romantic picnics on secluded beaches is just part of every day life in the Whitsundays. I sampled my weight in delights from Peach and Pear Events Catering. Delicious goodies, champagne, cutlery, glassware and a picnic rug are all delivered to your chosen location and set up as a surprise.
This is the heart-shaped coral reef you’ve seen in all the holiday brochures. Due to protection laws, snorkelling and diving is prohibited, however a scenic helicopter or seaplane flight can fly you right over the top for a birds eye view.
Progressive Lunch Tour on a Tuk Tuk
I spent most of this afternoon hysterically laughing on the back of Tanya and Brett’s Tuk Tuk as they drove me right the way around Airlie beach for a progressive lunch experience unlike any other. We visited 3 of the best eateries in Airlie Beach – the ones not everyone knows about and learnt all the local knowledge. I’m still not sure if the luxury boat docked at the Marina actually belonged to Mark Zuckerberg or Prince Harry, but their stories were both informative and extremely entertaining. The Just Tuk’n Around tour took 3 hours and included plenty of food and cocktails.
Best Places to Eat
Most of the restaurants and bars are on or nearby the water, so you’ll pretty much always have the perfect vantage point for those famous Whitsunday sunsets.
I was surprised to discover that Airlie Beach had changed so much since my previous visit 10 years ago. Thanks to some of Australia’s best chefs relocating to Airlie Beach, the food options were incredible. There’s plenty of casual and fine dining options available and you’ll be hard pressed finding a local that doesn’t rave about their favourite place to grab the best seafood platter. Just don’t leave without sampling a tropical fruit sorbet or cocktail. There’s a good chance you won’t find the same varieties further down south.
- Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill
- Coral Sea Resort (head to the end of the jetty for a pre-dinner sunset cocktail first. #honeymoongoals)
- Fish D’Vine
- SHUCKZ Oyster and Champagne Bar
- Tide’s Restaurant and Bar (Pepper’s Airlie Beach)
- Sorrento Restaurant & Bar
Airlie Beach Honeymoon Resort – 1 bedroom Apartment: $180 – $400 per room, per night.
Boat day trip with snorkeling and a visit to Whitehaven Beach: $189
Whitsunday Helicopter Experience: from $229 per person
Lunch/dinner at a waterfront restaurant: average of $35 per meal
Domestic flight from Brisbane to Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine): Prices vary. I have seen them from as low as $59 one way.
Visit Tourism Whitsundays for more planning tips.
Disclosure: This trip was a honeymoon familiarisation tour hosted by Whitsunday Tourism, however this editorial is not a paid sponsorship. All views and opinions expressed in this post are disclosed with honesty and integrity. Average prices were correct at the time of writing. Written by Jenny Cooper.