Okay, you’re seeking a loved-up tropical escape with postcard-perfect islands, a laid-back atmosphere and plenty to see and do. And you’re trying to avoid a long-haul flight. Sound familiar?
Australia is blessed with one of the world’s most spectacular island destinations and, lucky for you, getting here won’t take up a whole day of your itinerary. Of course we’re talking about Queensland’s famous Whitsundays. Looking to do more than just snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef (though, you should definitely do that too)? Don’t miss these romantic experiences to be swept up by Australia’s fabulous Whitsundays.
Related article: Sailing the Whitsundays: Luxury and fun on the water
Kick things off with sundowners and seafood by the water
An intimate dinner to the sound of lapping waves is a bit of a go-to for romantic experiences, but it’ll always win us over. In the Whitsundays, there’s an array of must-visit dining spots that celebrate the region’s best produce and scenery – perfect for some well-earned wining and dining.
A real local favourite, Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill in Airlie doesn’t disappoint. Regulars here have been known to come for a late breakfast and hang around till dinner, enjoying drinks and fresh fare throughout the day. Hidden away in a secluded bay, Northerlies is ideal breathtaking views, relaxed fare and top-notch drinks any time of day. Another beloved Airlie spot, Hemmingway’s in Abell Point Marina is the place to go for fine dining, expertly made cocktails and Coral Sea views. Looking to go all-out? Long Pavilion at qualia on Hamilton Island serves the finest Australian produce with a side of sigh-inducing scenery. Think crisp white linen, flickering candles, island surrounds and world-renowned gastonomic delights. Also at qualia, Pebble Beach is hard to go past for its indulgent seafood platters. Oysters, anyone?
Create your own romance-adventure story
Whether you’re serious adrenalin-junkies or you’re looking for a thrilling once-in-a-lifetime experience, the Whitsundays offers plenty to get the heart racing.
To get out and see the destination’s most cherished sights, join one of the local helicopter tour groups based in Airlie for a scenic flight over the reef. You’ll spot icons like the world-famous Heart Reef, Hill Inlet and islands encircled in turquoise before touching down on Whitehaven Beach’s blindingly white sands for a Champagne-paired picnic. Or, live the high life and set sail on the glamorous Lady Enid to feel like an A-list couple island-hopping their way around the Whitsundays.
Looking for something a little more action-packed? Red Cat Adventures runs exhilarating high-speed catamaran cruises around the islands that are sure to get the blood pumping. Take in amazing views and feel the wind in your hair before stopping at Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet lookout, and fitting in time for a little snorkelling.
Discover secluded stretches of sand
After ticking off the Whitsundays’ more well-known beaches, hire yourselves a boat from one of the local operators and discover your own secluded stretch of sand.
Hook Island is great for sheltered sandy bays, fjord-like inlets and pristine fringing reefs. While here, don’t leave without visiting the aptly named Butterfly Bay. Situated on the island’s northern side, this picturesque spot is where you’ll find colonies of vibrant butterflies hiding in shady nooks along the creekbed. Other fantastic options include quiet Cateran Bay on Border Island and the tiny hamlet of Hydeaway Bay near Airlie Beach. Or, just zip around the islands and pull up wherever inspires you along the way.
Explore the lesser-known rainforest
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Whitsundays was all about palm-fringed islands, sun-kissed beaches and turquoise waters, but there’s also pristine rainforest to explore. Located just 15 minutes south of Airlie Beach, Conway National Park is definitely worth a visit and feels as if its in a world of its own.
Featuring dense tropical rainforest, deep gullies, rocky cliffs, hidden beaches and outlooks with dramatic views, this natural wonderland is also home to the beautiful Cedar Creek Falls. Take along a picnic, hit the bushwalking trails or go for a rejuvenating dip for a unique Whitsundays experience.
Hole up in a luxurious hideaway
A romantic getaway calls for a sumptuous hideaway and there’s no shortage of options in the Whitsundays.
For a private island escape, claim one of Palm Bay Resort‘s beachfront bungalows, bures or villas for yourselves. Located on idyllic Long Island, the resort boasts private beaches, snorkelling and diving spots, plus a lovely day spa and poolside bar. Want to really treat yourselves? Book a stay at Hamilton Island’s stylish qualia for the best that the Whitsundays has to offer. With 60 airy pavilions facing the water, the luxury resort is known for its Insta-ready infinity pools, blissful spa and sensational dining options. Or, base yourselves on the mainland and enjoy Airlie’s charms and convenience with a stay at Mirage Whitsundays. Overlooking azure waters and nearby islands, the apartment-style resort offers a tranquil home-away-from-home just moments from all the action. Helpful links:Stay: Palm Bay Resort // qualia // Mirage WhitsundaysPlay: Lady Enid Sailing // Red Cat Adventures Eat: Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill // Hemmingway’s // Long Pavilion // Pebble Beach
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Image credits: Tourism & Events Queensland, Jules Ingall and Jason Hill