Paradise found. Destination: Whitsunday Islands

This would be the time of the year that the serious offshore adventures would be making the cruise north for the winter. Destination? The paradisiacal Whitsunday Island group. Whilst we all look forward to the day we can make the long journey to those azure waters, there is no harm in a little desktop research.

There are 74 islands in the Whitsunday Island group, 32 of which are protected by the Whitsunday Islands National Park. In total, there is 152 nm² of cruising grounds. There is plenty to see and do above and below the water’s surface yet when it is time, there are two marinas which offer excellent land-based experiences. Below is a snapshot of Hamilton Island and Coral Seas Marina and in the new edition we will be covering Port of Airlie and Mackay Marinas.

Hamilton Island Marina

Centrally located in the archipelago, Hamilton Island Marina is bustling. The home of the famed race week, the marina waterfront is lined with restaurants, boutiques, an impressive yacht club, a fuel dock, an amazingly well-stocked IGA grocery store, laundry facilities & a great welcoming atmosphere at your doorstep. It is also a stone’s throw from go-karting, quad bikes, bowling alley, tennis courts, spas and the airport with direct flights to the major capital cities.

It is quite an experience to sit aboard, feel the rumble of the jet engines and watch the planes land on the adjacent airstrip. The proximity of the airport to the marina is one of the elements which makes this marina so popular. Within 15 minutes of landing, you can literally be on the boat. 

TOP TIPS:

Hire a buggy:
the island isn’t too big but if you have to carry laundry, provisions or baggage, a buggy will make it much easier. Also, there is a bit of a hill between the marina, the main hotel area and the airport which is easily conquered by buggy and less so by foot.

Go for a walk:
the main lookout on the north eastern side of the island is accessible by buggy however on the southern side of the island, there are extensive walking tracks to peaks and down to secluded beaches. They are well worth the effort and range from moderate to challenging.

Play golf:
one of the more recent developments by Hamilton Island was to build a particularly spectacular golf course on the adjacent Dent Island. The 18-hole course sits high on the island and has uninterrupted views of Dent Passage and the islands of the Whitsundays.

Coral Seas Marina and Resort, Airlie Beach 

Based on the mainland at the resort town of Airlie Beach, Abell Point Marina has gone through a renaissance emerging as Coral Seas Marina and Resort.

The facility is so impressive it received the worldwide status of Five Gold Anchor Platinum accreditation, the highest on offer. The marina is large and well serviced by restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Most impressive though is their concierge program which starts when you tie up and a dockhand meets you and extends to complimentary cars and access to possibly the most deluxe toilet amenities on the east coast. Coral Seas Marina and Resort now includes a resort, as the name suggests, which has expanded the dining options as well.

Proserpine Airport is the closest airport and regular bus services run between the airport, marina and main township of Airlie Beach. However, the marina works with a local helicopter service to provide transfers to and from both Proserpine and Hamilton Island. The helicopter certainly cuts the transport time and is just a little more than spectacular. 

TOP TIPS:

Use the Courtesy Cars.
The complimentary car certainly comes in handy as the local supermarkets are a little way away however, the marina can also assist with provisions. 

Ocean Club:
The Ocean Club is a floating amenity block within the marina and arguably the grandest in a marina on Australia’s east coast. It includes private ensuites, laundry facilities, an impressive observation deck, Business Club facilities and a spa.

Airlie Beach’s foreshore:
The foreshore of Airlie Beach is a short walk from the marina and a wonderful place for kids, families and those young at heart to play in the lagoon and adventure playground.

Cruising resources

If you are cruising the Whitsundays, there are two books which are necessary resources onboard as they provide invaluable insight into the area.

Cruising the Coral Coast

by Alan Lucas

This book is a mandatory text for anyone cruising the Queensland coast. Covering the coastline from Point Danger in the south to Cape York in the far north, it covers all the details and information for cruising these waters. There are maps, photos, pointers, and snippets of history. It is invaluable as a nautical bible and also a great read.

Find out more.

100 Magic Miles

by David Colfelt

Never was there a book with a more apt title. 100 Magic Miles details the Whitsunday Island’s cruising groups. Now on its 13th edition, this comprehensive almanac covers nautical information as well as snorkelling, diving, camping, fishing, walks and the outer reef. It is simply invaluable for cruising this region.

Find out more.

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