100 things to do in the Whitsundays
1. Hand-feed resident stingrays including the cute little Spud at Stingray Splash at Daydream Island. And yes, they have all been de-barbed.
2. Tuck into a local crab claw, the biggest and the best outside Singapore at Fish D’Vine or slug down one of their mojitos, rated – by one journalist at least – as best in the world.
3. Grab a coldie, pick the perfect palm tree and then sit back and watch the sunset at Montes Reef Resort at Hideaway Bay… Shhh, keep it quiet. This is truly a local secret.
4. Master and commandeer the Derwent Hunter, a tall ship crafted in 1946 that plies the pristine waters in a bygone style.
5. Perk up with coffee in the cane fields at Whitsunday Gold Coffee, a quaint little plantation half-way between Airlie Beach and Proserpine.
6. Add a tick to that bucket list and warm up on the world’s whitest sand on Whitehaven Beach, listed as the No. 1 Beach in Australia and No. 3 Beach in the World in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Beaches Awards (2013).
7. Feel the solitude of the reef without the tourists and camp out on Reef Sleep pontoon. For $399 per person, you get two days on the reef, comfy swags and a million stars at night.
8. Chopper in to Australia’s only island championship golf course located on Dent Island.
9. See a swarm of majestic blue Ulysses butterflies at Butterfly Bay on Hook Island as they fly out over the ocean every morning and afternoon.
10. Sign up for Salty Dog Sea Kayaking‘s half-day, full-day or a marathon six-day tour and power yourself through the Whitsundays.
11. Walk from your lounge to the lawn, set up a banana chair and snooze just metres from the impressive Whitsunday Passage at Marina Shores.
12. Jump on board a Cruise Whitsunday ferry and island hop the passage. Taste test a poolside Pina Colada at each resort.
13. It’s not called the Great Barrier Reef for nothing – so get in and get diving.
14. Order up a lamb and baba ghanoush pizza and get a lazy box-office view of the Airlie Beach lagoon at Mr Bones Pizza. Warning: one pizza per couple is more than enough.
15. Say hello to the local cockatoos who like to drop in and say hi on every balcony in town.
16. Power it like P. Diddy. Who needs a movie star life and St Tropez when you can grab your own groupies and sail the coral blue waters on a 14-metre fantasy powerboat?
17. For a lazy chew with a view, book in to DejaVu’s eight-course gastrotourism Sunday lunch. The food is pure naughties, the price is unexpectedly ’90s at just $45.50 per head.
18. Take a 60-minute Heart to Heart and chopper over Heart Reef, perfectly shaped and surrounded by turquoise waters.
19. Hire a buggy and circumnavigate Hamilton Island and get up close to the multi-million dollar digs and soak in the divine island views.
20. Chew your way through eight taste-tingling courses at the Hayman Island Chefs Table. The finale – an igloo-shaped ice bubble with a perfectly round ball of sorbet inside.
21. Eat a Bowen mango where it all started, in Bowen, the home of summer’s most favourite fruit.
22. Upgrade your campsite at the Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort and get your own drive up ensuite bathroom.
23. Get behind the 8 ball with billiards or croon your heart out on karaoke at the lively bars in the main street of Airlie Beach.
24. Bet on a toad or two at the weekly Cane Toad Races every Thursday night at Magnums.
25. Crew a million-dollar yacht with some of the nation’s best each Wednesday for free. The yachties at The Whitsunday Sailing Club’s Twilight Yacht Racing are often short of crew, so turn up at 3pm for a spot of tacking.
26. Check out the Saturday markets on the Airlie Beach foreshore for the usual jumble of fresh fruit and veg, coffee, clothing, and one of the cheapest places for a massage.
27. Grab a hand line and land a prized barramundi, the prince of freshwater catches, just 30 minutes from Proserpine at the Peter Faust Dam.
28. Help save the Whitsundays with Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc., a hands-on volunteer experience where you pick up marine debris from the beaches of the Whitsunday Islands.
29. If you have your own set of wheels, join ‘Ride Whitsundays’ at the Airlie Lagoon Broadwater Avenue car park each Saturday at 8am.
30. Smell the wild lemon myrtle flowers and listen to the wampoo pigeon as you trek the lowland tropical rainforest along the Whitsunday Great Walk.
31. Light up a free BBQ at the Airlie Beach and Shingley Beach lagoons or Cannonvale Beach in a safe stinger-free environment surrounded by relaxed landscaped gardens.
32. Take a natural shower at Cedar Creek Falls, located 20 kilometres from Proserpine on Saltwater Creek Road.
33. Get your Rod Stewart track on (we’re talking the 1978 hit single, “I Am Sailing”) and set sail for the 74 islands of the Whitsundays on a bareboat charter.
34. Hang in a hammock and fall asleep to the lapping tide at the family-friendly BreakFree Long Island Resort.
35. Walk through the botanical amusement parlour, the Jamie Durie created gardens on Hayman Island.
36. Keep it cheap and enjoy a bucket of prawns for $15 fresh from the reef at the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
37. Picnic on the soft white sand at Boathaven Beach and suck up the stunning views of the Coral Sea and islands beyond.
38. Hire the four-bedroom, five-bathroom penthouse at Blue Horizon Resort Apartments and fill it with eight of your best mates. Then do little but sip on bubbles and guzzle down the Whitsunday Passage views.
39. Polish your engagement ring (or any sparkler for that matter) on the finest silica sand at Whitehaven Beach.
40. On a budget? Head to Cactus Jacks at Airlie Beach Hotel for their $10 all you can eat Chili Tuesday Night from 6pm.
41. Take home the ultimate tropical island holiday souvenir – a professional portrait session on Daydream Island.
42. Get down with gran over a $12 barefoot bowl at the Airlie Beach Bowls Club. The deal includes a sausage sizzle.
43. Re-enact the Hot Tub Time Machine at the Pinnacles Resort and Spa. These oversized spas offer sweeping views of the Whitsunday Islands.
44. Dig into a degustation dinner at Tides Restaurant & Bar at Peppers Airlie Beach and taste the local flavours.
45. Travel in an open-air tractor-drawn wagon train with Whitsunday Crocodile Safari and take a cruise to spot flocks of Magpie Geese, agile wallabies, resident brolgas, and the prehistoric saltwater crocodiles.
46. Whip around some of the most beautiful waterways in the Whitsundays on Ecojet Safari departing from Montes Reef Resort at Cape Gloucester.
47. Visit Colour Me Crazy, a brazen, bohemian, and madly riotous store in Proserpine that sells everything from jewellery to clothing and garden supplies.
49. While at Hamilton Island, order the dribble-worthy “son-in-law” eggs followed by “twice-cooked crispy duck” at Coca Chu Restaurant. No need to fly to Asia.
50. Change your footprint to a lighter shade at the ultra barefoot luxury, Paradise Bay Island Resort. The entire joint runs on 85 per cent solar energy.
51. Sit on the beach and enjoy live music every Sunday at the Airlie Beach Esplanade.
52. Hire one of Australia’s most exclusive holiday rentals, the luxurious Woodwark Bay near Airlie Beach and buy yourself 1618 hectares of manicured gardens, a lush tropical rainforest, a private beach, waterfalls and picnic huts. Surrounded by 20000 hectares of uninterrupted and untracked national parkland.
53. Choose the almond pithiviers as one of your six picnic dishes packed by those clever culinary kings at Hayman Island. Picnic packs start from $58. Now take them to a remote cove and enjoy.
54. Head inland to the old mining area of Collinsville and the Coal Face Experience museum.
55. Sup on a coldie at the Hamilton Island Yacht Club Marina and watch as fleets of sailors work on multi-million dollar yachts.
56. Heck, while you’re in the Whitsundays, why not get married? There happens to be a chapel on Daydream, Hayman and Hamilton Islands.
57. Cuddle a koala or any other furry marsupial at Wildlife Park Hamilton Island.
58. Visit the ‘wild side’ of the Whitsunday Islands on the exhilarating Ocean Rafting. The vessels were originally designed and built as rescue crafts and are driven by 450hp engines.
59. Pack a picnic and grab a blanket for movies in the moonlight on the giant 44-foot screen on the edge of Daydream Island.
60. Dive the Pinnacles, one of the best sites in the Whitsundays off the western beach of Hook Island and discover large coral boulders manta rays and white tip reef sharks.
61. Splash out for a night at the world’s best – qualia on Hamilton Island has been rated the number one resort by Conde Naste. Admire the 14 kilometres of immaculately trimmed hedges and the divine views.
62. Dress up and join in the Whitsunday Fun Race, part of the Airlie Beach Race Week finale every August.
63. Walk in the foosteps of the Ngaro people at Nara Inlet on Hook Island and discover ancient aboriginal artworks on the fragile rock surface.
64. Live like the rich and famous and get your own personal butler when you book the 120 sqm Hayman Island Beach Villas.
65. Descend six metres underwater and discover the wonders of the reef at Hook Island Observatory.
66. Take travel to a new pointe when a handful of principal dancers from the Australian Ballet bring excerpts from some of the world’s most loved ballets to the edge of qualia’s infinity pool.
67. Walk, run or ride the 3.7km Bicentennial Boardwalk from the Airlie Beach Lagoon, past the Botanic Gardens to Cannonvale Beach (and check out the outdoor gym along the way!).
68. Explore the 13 kilometres of walking tracks through abundant island rainforest on Long Island.
69. Watch the sunset from the decks of Sundowner Cruises and absorb the twighlight hues with beautiful Shute Harbour views.
70. Sip on an aperitif and watch the sunset from the Roman Pool at Clipper Restaurant, Coral Sea Resort.
71. Island “chop” by helicopter and get to the best parts of the Whitsundays faster.
73. Lounge around the nation’s most iconic pool – the hexagonal Hayman Island pool
74. Holiday big on a small budget and go camping on the largest island in the Whitsundays, Whitsunday Island. Permits are around $5 a night.
75. Get inspired by Hamilton Island’s palm fringed beaches, then take an on-island art class to capture the beauty first hand.
76. Hike to the lookout at Hill Inlet for stunning views over Whitehaven Beach.
77. Go whale watching in July just by being on the water at the right time.
78. End the week with a Sunday session at Dingo Beach Hotel.
79. Be a renegade and team up with Renegade Fishing Charters for a half-day or full-day fishing charter.
80. Fly a kite at Conway Beach.
81. Line up for an old-fashioned country pie like Hugh Jackman did at Jochheim’s Pies and then visit the sites of Bowen and spot where Australia the movie was filmed.
82. Choose from two free audio tour options and learn about the history of Hamilton Island. Tours can be downloaded onto your smartphone.
83. Hone up like Fedderer and play a set or two on any of the Big4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort’s tennis courts.
84. Listen for the deep croak of the male Green Tree Frog as the January breeding season ramps up in the forest.
85. Walk one of nature’s gifts at low tide and spot starfish, crabs, stingrays and other marine life along the myriad of Whitsundays’ sand flats.
86. Wake up to a box office view and more likely a cockatoo hoping for a feed at Hamilton Island’s Reef View Hotel.
87. For the best morning brew with a view, head to the Fat Frog Beach Café at Cannonvale Beach.
88. Walk to the top of Mount Whitsunday – it’ll test your fitness (and your legs) and the views over Airlie Beach to the Coral Sea are worth the effort.
89. Hire a stand-up paddleboard from Whitsunday Stand Up Paddle at Shingley Beach and go exploring.
90. Take in the great Bowen views with a cup of coffee at the 360 on the Hill café.
91. Hire a set of fins and a snorkel from the dudes at Catseye Beach at Hamilton Island and snorkel the fringing reef directly off the island at low tide.
92. Take in the full panorama of Bowen, the islands and countryside from Flagstaff Hill.
93. Get the kids in the kitchen with a chef-led tour of the ever-popular Hayman Chocolate Room.
94. Go coastal and unleash the hounds at Health Licks in Airlie Beach. This healthy living café hosts its own ‘K9-Club’ which meets every Saturday at 10.30am. While owners enjoy the organic menu, furry friends happily play in the doggie area in front of the café.
95. Treat yourself to a coconut-infused spa treatment and enjoy a power smoothie and a gluten and grain-free treat in the cafe afterwards at Coconol in Proserpine.
96. Sail to Bali Hai Reef with seven of your closest mates aboard the S.V. Domino and enjoy lunch on the island.
97. Toast the sunset with craft beer and tapas, on the water at Denman Cellars at the Port of Airlie.
98. With the world-famous Whitehaven Beach on the opposite shore of Whitsunday Island, Chalkies Beach is often forgotten about. But with its white silica-sand and usually clear waters, the fringing coral reef that lies just offshore adds another reason to stop here, away from the crowds for an underwater adventure with the fishes.
99. Get can’t-be-beaten views of The Whitsundays as you hurtle towards earth with Skydive Airlie Beach.
100. Drift away on a massage bed actually in the ocean with Spa Hayman’s 90-minute Ocean Massage signature spa treatment.
Is there anything else you think we’ve missed off the list?