Cruising the Whitsundays Australia

Cruising the Whitsundays Australia 1Blue water and beach – Whitsunday Islands – Photo Courtesy: J Brew


So you are ready for your Great Barrier Reef adventure and plan to cruise the glorious Whitsundays Australia… The conundrum appears when it is time to choose your boat however, and the sailing trips are as varied as the vessels they use.

Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:


Party Boats


Cruising the Whitsundays Australia 2Photo Courtesy: Sarah Ackerman

Usually modern vessels which pack in as many young overseas travellers as possible, who all have one aim in mind: to party hard and sunbathe – both worthy goals in the tropics. There is some snorkeling on offer as well, if your hangover allows for it, as well as the obligatory stop on Whitehaven beach (which applies to all the sailing trips of course) – the one with the striking white silica sand that is plastered on all the Queensland travel photos. Try and be sober for that one, as the beauty of this spot is world class.  – For party animals only.

Depending on the type of cruising you want to do, you can fly to the whitsundays or find a cruise that departs from your capital city and goes to the Whitsundays.


Scuba Boats


These are smaller vessels which accommodate fewer passengers, as the trip is aimed at experienced divers and those who wish to try diving for the first time. You can obtain your diving certificate or make a new level. Bear in mind that the dives are charged separately on top of the price of the trip, but the trips tend to be cheaper as a result and the facilities basic; don’t be surprised if your berth looks more like a shelf! Vegetarians beware: it might be pasta salad every day, but otherwise no one ever complained about being hungry.


Cruising the Whitsundays Australia 3An exciting Snorkling Excursion near Langford Island, Whitsundays, Australia. Photo Courtesy: Sarah Ackerman

One piece of advice: a trial dive is offered for first timers in a quite dead section of the reef – supposedly so you don’t get distracted and learn the skills. Don’t go, it’s not worth the price, and a depressing sight, much like the dead reef remains around each of the resort islands themselves. Thankfully, there are plenty of vibrant spots to snorkel and dive in, and the crew will make plenty of stops at those as well.


Tall Ships and Yachts


These are beautiful boats, and more costly as a result. Heartily recommended if your budget and itinerary can handle a longer trip, as these vessels not only offer creature comforts and atmosphere, but also make additional interesting stops, such as tours of the islands to discover treasures like aboriginal cave paintings, for example.


Cruising the Whitsundays Australia 4

Aboriginal cave paintings – Photo Courtesy: Paleontour

It is always worth taking your time to compare prices and itineraries, as spending a bit more in this case can make for a much better and more comprehensive overall experience. Plus you get to show off your sailing skills and pretend you’re one of the Pirates of the Caribbean!


Great Barrier Reef Pontoon


Cruising the Whitsundays Australia 5Quicksilver pontoon at Agincourt reef, Great Barrier Reef – Photo Courtesy: Gavin Tapp

For those who do not have a few days to cruise around the Whitsundays, there is always the day trip to the pontoon. Yes, people knock this Whitsundays attraction as an overpriced tourist mill. However for me, this is where the most gorgeous reef sights can be found, as the pontoon is located by the outer reef  (not so easily accessible by the smaller touristy boats which stick to the islands) and thus not as damaged and full of colourful underwater life. Here the world of Nemo truly comes alive and the huge reef forms walls as deep as the eye can see. This is a snorkeler’s paradise, as you’re able to see the entire colour spectrum of this underwater world close to the surface.

Do not miss the ride on the glass-bottom boat, as it takes you further into the reef to see more sea creatures, including reef sharks. This trip is perfect for families due to safety measures and facilities provided. Duck divers are in for a  treat: in the afternoons, the local colourful Humphead Wrasse comes for a visit and he loves his pats!


Patricia BieszkPatricia Bieszk is a freelance writer who loves to travel and take underwater photos of fish.

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