Qualia

Island life: the ultimate Whitsundays accommodation guide

So you’ve been seduced by The Whitsundays and its promise of island-hopping adventures, reef-fringed beaches, world-class snorkelling and sailing and endless opportunities to reconnect with nature. All that’s left to do now is book your dream Whitsundays island accommodation using our guide.

Whether you’re a bargain-hunting backpacker, a luxury-seeking honeymooner, or somewhere in between, here’s your ultimate guide to The Whitsundays’ best spots to rest your head.

Escape to your own private island

If it’s seclusion and privacy you seek, Camp Island, just north of Bowen, could be your dream destination. It may be just 3km offshore, but you’ll feel a million miles away from civilisation on your very own private island in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. And the best bit? It’s completely yours for you and up to 13 friends for around $1500 a night.

Check in to your beach bungalow (there are just four on the island), then grab a snorkel and explore the spectacular coral gardens just a few steps offshore. Soak up the serenity while you fish for your supper off the jetty or prise fresh oysters from the nearby rockpools. Then watch the sun set and the moon rise from the verandah as your executive chef cooks up a seafood feast. (If you’d rather self-cater, that can be arranged too).

Travel notes: access to Camp Island is via a 20-minute barge-ride from Elliot River’s jetty or helicopter from the Whitsunday Coast Airport.

Replenish mind, body and soul at a high-end resort

Got a little cash to splash? Find out why qualia on Hamilton Island has been voted one of the best luxury resorts in the world more times than you can count.

Feel at one with your surroundings as you sip sundowners on your private sundeck, tucked discreetly into the lush tropical foliage. Soothe your body and soul with a nourishing, Indigenous-inspired wellness ritual at Spa Qualia. Savour locally-grown, sustainably-sourced produce on a 6-course culinary journey at the poolside restaurant, Pebble Beach. (And that’s before you’ve even stepped outside the resort).

Travel notes: Qualia is just a short 10 minute ride from the island’s airstrip by golf buggy (the only method of transport on Hamilton Island). Jump on one of the daily flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Cairns or arrive in style on your own private helicopter or jet.

There’s more luxury to be found on Hayman Island at the recently refurbished Intercontinental Resort. Think private sunset beach picnics, elegant accommodation and custom-designed reef experiences – all set against the quintessential Whitsundays backdrop of rainforest clad hills and vivid blue seas.

Feel right at home in an island bungalow

Hamilton Island’s got a whole lot more to offer than exclusive, adults-only resorts: it also happens to be the perfect destination for families. And nowhere does family-friendly accommodation quite so well as Hamilton Island Palm Bungalows – located just a stone’s throw from the tranquil waters of Catseye Beach and the island’s huge resort style pool.

Inside your freestanding cabin you’ll find the makings for instant family relaxation: kitchenettes, a bar fridge and enough room for an extra single bed or cot to have the little ones in tow. So load up the golf buggy, blow up your pool inflatables and get ready for non-stop family fun.

Travel notes: The Marina Village is just a few minute’s drive away where you can stock up on groceries, relax with a drink or treat the kids to a woodfired pizza or fish and chips.

Get back to nature in a beachside bure

Palm Bay Resort | Queensland islands

You know a place is off-the-beaten-track when the only way you can get there is by water taxi. At just 9km long and less than half a km wide, Long Island is a small-but-perfectly-formed gem just south of Airlie Beach.

Check out of the daily grind and into your Balinese-inspired beachside bure on Palm Bay Resort, one of only two resorts on the island.  Described as self-catering with a twist, you can create your own feast in the resort kitchen, then leave the staff to do the dishes while you kick back and relax in the stylish shared dining room. For the inside track on what to do on Long Island, check out this 48-hour guide.

Travel notes: charter boats depart from Shute Harbour throughout the day – but be sure to book in advance.

Sleep under canvas and a blanket of stars

If you’re travelling on a budget (or just like to get as close to nature as possible), pitch a tent island-side at one of the South Molle Island National Park campgrounds.

This deserted island experience pares things right back to basics  – including the price. Discover ancient Aboriginal sites and wander through eucalypt rainforest, explore the coast by paddleboard or kayak, then fall asleep to the sound of cicadas and waves lapping at the shore.

Keen on island camping? Check out these other epic island campsites.

Travel notes: thanks to a limit on the number of people that can camp on the island at any one time (it’s capped at 48) you’re pretty much guaranteed to have those long white sandy beaches all to yourself.

Spend a night (or three) on the water

Known as Australia’s home of sailing, The Whitsundays is the perfect place to brush up on your sailing skills and embark on a bareboating adventure. There’s no captain or crew required: it’s just you, your friends and family adventuring on the open seas.

Talk to the folks at Go Bareboating, Whitsunday Escape, Cumberland Charter Yachts or Queensland Yacht Charters to find out what’s involved and check out their fleet of luxury yachts and catamarans. Curious to know more? Check out this how-to guide.

Travel notes: if you’d rather someone else did the hard work, for a little extra you can hire a skipper to take the wheel.

Mix conservation with pleasure at an eco-resort

Daydream Island is an award-winning eco-resort that’s all about fostering love and respect for the Great Barrier Reef while making sure guests have an unforgettable island holiday.

Work up a sweat with an endless list of watersports, games, classes and daily activities (free for resort guests).  Visit the island’s famous Living Reef Lagoon and feed a baby stingray. You can even take an underwater observatory tour with a resident marine biologist.

Travel notes: Daydream Island is just a short boat ride from either Airlie Beach on the mainland or nearby Hamilton Island.

Looking for mainland Whitsundays accommodation ideas instead? This guide is packed with suggestions.

*Please note the temporary closure of all Queensland campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state-managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.