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 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.
Please note, Cruise Whitsundays accepts payment via Eftpos or Credit Card only.
Yes, please reconfirm your booking the day prior to your scheduled departure by contacting our reservations team. Email email@example.com or phone 07 4846 7000.
Day Cruises, Resort Connections and Combos:
Guest changes: Permitted up to one (1) day prior to departure* (*fees may apply)
Guest cancellations: 100% cancellation fees apply within 48 hours of departure
Guest changes: Permitted up to 72hrs prior to departure
Guest cancellations: 100% cancellation fees apply 14 days and under prior to departure
Guest changes: Permitted up to 45 days prior to departure
Guest cancellations: 100% cancellation fees apply 30 days and under prior to departure
For more information view our latest Terms and Conditions.
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. Storage is available at our Port of Airlie location for the small fee of $10/bag for the day.
Luggage on our resort connection transfers is limited to one large suitcase and one carry-on suitcase per guests up to a maximum of 27kgs. Additional charges may apply for extra items.
Please be advised that we do not offer a luggage service on our 7:15am & 8:00am services from Port of Airlie.
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 snorkelling and 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.
Drones are generally not permitted on our tours, experiences or products due to operational and safety concerns. However, if you’d like to discuss the possibility of using a drone on your tour or experience, please contact the reservations team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All tours will still operate in wet conditions. We strongly suggest checking the weather forecast http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/forecasts/mackay-coast.shtml 48 hours prior to your departure date to check conditions.
Parking is available at our Port of Airlie terminal please be advised spaces are limited.
To avoid disappointment we do recommend taking advantage of our reasonably priced Bus Pick Up Service available for all-day tours, alternatively Port of Airlie is within walking distance of most accommodations in Airlie Beach.
If extending your stay on the Islands there are alternative Parking facilities available (https://issuu.com/cruisewhit/docs/m032_-_airlie_beach_parking) or you could take advantage of Whitsunday Parking, a Private Valet company.
For more information contact Whitsunday Parking on 0427 317 218 or visit their website http://www.whitsundayparking.com.au/.
Daydream Island is open exclusively to their overnight guests only. Day passes are currently not available
The water outside the Reefsuites will be lit directly by a light, which will enable guests to see marine life, but it is unlikely they’ll see the reef.
Yes, each Reefsuite will include basic amenities including a hair dryer.
Children must be 6 years or older to experience Reefsuites. Reefsuites will be charged at a per person rate, regardless of age.
We strive to maximise every guests time available in the luxury of their Reefsuite and we do vary our check-in/out times based on the operational requirements of Reefworld to ensure this is achieved. However, generally checkout is before 11am and check-in is from 3pm. Our Reefworld Hosts will be able to advise of specific timing upon your arrival at Reefworld.
Before you start packing and getting excited about your Reefsleep experience, we need to get some information from you. Please download and complete the medical declaration and meal selection form below. Once completed please return the forms to our Reservations team on email@example.com
Sign up to receive our e-newsletters featuring the latest news, exclusive offers and much more from Cruise Whitsundays and Journey Beyond.