The Great Barrier Reef Whitsundays Style

10 ways to do the Great Barrier Reef in The Whitsundays

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Sitting pretty at the beating heart of the Great Barrier Reef you’ll find the 74 islands of The Whitsundays.

We know, that’s a lot of reef-tastic space to cover, and we get you might be wondering where the heck to even start?!

We’ve narrowed it down to the top 10 ways to do the reef, Whitsundays style.

1. Snorkel cruise

Snorkel Cruise

It’s a given that snorkel time is a priority when visiting the Great Barrier Reef. But since the Whitsundays has got more prime spots than you can count on your fingers AND toes, the best way to make the most of it is by adventure sail: cue the fringing coral reefs and bays of Langford Island, Hook Island and Border Island!

For those who don’t have much time in the region, hop aboard for a day tour with the Derwent Hunter Tall Ship, Whitehaven Express or Ocean Rafting (be sure to book their Northern Exposure Tour which has the most snorkelling time).

If you’re more of an avid snorkel adventurer, check out the two-and-three-day tours offered by Adventure Catamarans Dive and SailWings Whitsundays Adventures and Whitsundays Sailing Adventures.

2. Fly over heart reef

Fly over Heart Reef

The only way to see this Great Barrier Reef wonder is to get a bird’s eye view. Literally. Leave your snorkel behind when you take to the air for a scenic flight over this naturally formed reef in the shape of a heart that has been enchanting travellers for over 40 years.

Take off with Air Whitsundays, Heli Taxis or GSL Aviation. But be sure to check out their different tour options because you can tee-up your flight with a bunch of awesome activities. Private picnic on a secluded beach, anyone?

3. Sleep on the reef

Camping out in a swag under the stars is a pretty common Queensland activity. But what about doing it on a pontoon in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef?

On a Reefsleep with Cruise Whitsundays, not only do you get to camp out reef-style, but you get to spend two days exploring the colourful Hardy Reef and laxing it up on the sundeck. Then when the day tours depart the pontoon, only you and eight other guests get to enjoy the solitude and tranquillity of this natural wonder.

PS. At night the reef changes but doesn’t go to sleep, so why not take advantage and go on a night dive? (Must be pre-booked.)

4. Kayak

Kayak the Whitsundays

Explore the Whitsundays by paddle when you wind your way through the fringing reefs of Repair Island, Tancred Island and Shute Island on a half-day tour with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking, stopping off at White Rock to make the most of the crystal clear waters (and to go to town on a cheese and fruit platter).

Don’t want the fun to end there? Why not make it a full day where you’ll kayak on to Sandy Bay at South Molle Island for some more beach and snorkel time.

5. Learn to dive

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef

Make like Sebastien and relish life under the sea when you learn to dive on the Great Barrier Reef! 

Find introductory dives to PADI certified courses from this list of operators, or if you’re planning on staying at Daydream, Hamilton or Hayman Island, ask reception about their diving tours.

6. Bareboating

Bareboating in the Whitsundays

Skipper your own charter with friends and family as crewmates when you explore the reef by bareboat.

Voted as the best cruising experience three times in the People’s Choice Awards by Australian Traveller magazine, this is one sure way to explore the reef in style.

Each day you decide your next destination and anchorage, DIY cruising to the islands that tickle your fancy. Think of it like a hotel on water, where you can sleep, eat and cook onboard, plus spend your days snorkelling, picnic-ing, fishing and exploring the islands at your own pace.

Check out the pimpin’ vessels on offer by Whitsunday Escape, Cumberland Charter Yachts and Whitsunday Rent A Yacht.

7. Jet-ski tour

Jetski Whitsundays

Spot sea turtles, dugongs and even dolphins when you vroom you’re way through the Whitsundays on your own jet-ski. 

Whitsunday Jetski Tours and Ocean Dynamics will take you on an adventure through the heart of the Whitsunday Islands; cruising along the Airlie Beach coastline and stopping off for some island time at South Molle and Daydream.

7. Skydive over the reef

Skydive Airlie Beach

Photo by Skydive Airlie Beach via FB

Sure, skydiving is a pretty exciting activity in itself. But falling from the sky with the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef below you, now THAT is something special.

Skydive Airlie Beach teams the ultimate adrenalin rush with the ultimate view, so take the leap and cross it off your bucket list pronto!

8. Glass-bottom boat

You don’t need to get wet to experience the wonders of the reef. Head out with Cruise Whitsundays to Knuckle Reef Lagoon where you will find Queensland’s largest and most spectacular underwater viewing chamber.

On their Subsea Adventure, you’ll get panoramic views of life under the sea, all the while keeping your hair dry. It’s really a win-win situation, no?

10. Walk to the reef

Reef from Daydream Island

Photo by @pagingfunmums via IG

At Daydream Island, you don’t need to venture far to find the Great Barrier Reef. Step off the beach at Lovers’ Cove and you’ll be surrounded by coral gardens and an abundance of tropical marine life in less time than it took you to put on your mask and flippers.

What’s your favourite way to explore the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays?




  • http://queensland.com/blog Queensland Blog

    Nice one, Anthony! That one’s a little further north of the Whitsundays but a liveaboard like that is on all of our bucket lists at Hello Sunshine HQ :)

    • Anthony Dzioba

      Yep. If you’re going to do the Great Barrier Reef, you should do it properly :)

  • http://www.travel2next.com/ Travel2Next

    Love #6 bareboating is such a fun thing to do with a group of friends

    • http://queensland.com/blog Queensland Blog

      Damn straight, Travel2Next! And so much more accessible than many people think.