The Whitsundays; A Bounty of Beaches

Some islands divulge their charms upfront.

Take, for instance, the tiny dots scattered throughout the world’s tropical oceans – within a single glance you’ve pretty much summed up the dreaminess you’re in for.

Then there are islands which, in the manner of a gemstone, reveal yet another bewitching facet each time you look.

Which is what makes the Whitsundays so distinctive and so desirable.

Embodying the rawness of the Australian landscape, these islands are defined by a dramatic beauty. Here, closely stacked, densely forested mountains tumble straight into a silken sea. Assuming a shape akin to a gigantic, gnarled starfish, the Whitsundays’ larger islands clutch the ocean with vast, serrated tentacles, creating a rugged panorama that conceals seemingly endless inlets and secluded beaches.

As befits a World Heritage area, only six of the Whitsundays islands are inhabited, albeit in a contained manner.

The iconic hill inlet.
The iconic hill inlet.

 And whilst this chain of flooded volcanoes may be home to a whopping 74 islands, there’s an even more critical marker for the discerning pleasure seeker: they boast an infinite number of untrammelled beaches.

Some, such as acclaimed Whitehaven Beach – renowned for its startlingly white sand and engrossing aquamarine swirls – present as shimmering, rainforest-fringed seductions that unfurl for kilometre after mesmerising kilometre.

Other beaches, thanks to the rambling shapes of the islands, take the form of tiny slivers of sand or secretive little coves, embraced by smooth boulders and hoop pine forest, psychedelic corals just a few strokes away.

World famous Whitehaven Beach.
World famous Whitehaven Beach.

If your intentions are romantic, it’s hard to beat walking through bird-laden bush to your own little beach to laze about, swim, snorkel, and then sate yourselves over a picnic lunch. For high-octane escapism, get dropped off at a secluded beach – helicopter and seaplane trips are the go for heavenly views.To relish the freedom of pulling up at whatever beach or island takes your fancy, whenever, a yacht charter lets you create your own romantic adventure.

If you’re feeling active, islands such as Whitsunday, Hook, South Molle and Hamilton offer fine walks which culminate in dazzling vistas over the archipelago. In the Whitsunday Islands National Park, unflappable rock wallabies and bush turkeys don’t mind the company.

Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef is a must do for couples..
Snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef is a must do for couples..

The quintessential Great Barrier Reef experience however, involves getting wet. Coral gardens fringe many beaches, with prime snorkelling spots lying off Hook, Hayman, Dumbell and the northern stretches of Whitsunday Island.That said though, turtles, harlequin-hued fish, and coral formations that could be straight out of a Pink Floyd film clip are likely to appear whenever you put your head underwater.

By way of a massive bonus, in the winter months, boat trips to snorkelling hotspots often pass by nursing whales. 

On the outer reef, the underwater scenes gets cranked up to 3D sci-fi. Picturesque royal blue channels within the reef create nutrient-packed currents which lure a confounding diversity of corals and sea creatures. It’s hard not to do a double take when you get up close to the Jurassic-looking huge gropers and giant clams that pout velvety jewel-coloured lips.

Taking the concept of an island stay to almost giddy extremes, it’s now possible to spend a pampered night out on a pontoon moored at Hardy Reef, a spectacular splash of incandescent turquoise. Along with a peerless sense of isolation, these reef-sleeps feature personalised diving and snorkelling, massages and starlit dinners.

For times that you’d rather be on the water rather than in it, there are sea kayaks, paddle boards, sail boards, tinnies, catamarans and parasailing.

A convivial village atmosphere makes Hamilton Island a homely gateway to the islands.To feel the local buzz, set up a picnic at the tables facing the sparkling yachts at the marina – be warned however, the cheeky cockatoos might have designs on your bakery treats.The nearby gallery features splendid depictions of local magic (is it possible to look at paintings of gliding turtles and not sigh?). A selection of waterfront eateries serve everything from fish and chips to imaginative gourmet fare and each evening, candles flicker upon tables tucked between the coconut palms of Catseye Beach.

A beach house at qualia.
A beach house at qualia.

Whilst some resorts heap on the hedonism – fancy a private plunge pool? – others combine value with comfort and throw in complimentary million-dollar views. 

To enhance the rejuvenating power of nature, wellness devotees have a lot to look forward to. As well as staples such yoga and pilates classes, innovations such as personal trainers and boxing classes make dessert seem a lot less sinful. Spas feature products conjured from the Australian bush.

Unlike most Australian island holidays, a break in the Whitsundays can consist solely of islands.There’s something very special about stepping off a plane, revelling in the fact that you’re surrounded by sea, then spending your entire holiday only on islands.

If you’re the sort of person for whom too many islands and beaches are never enough, the arresting natural beauty of the Whitsundays will work a treat. 

Great Barrier Reef
The reef from the air.

Couples will love: 

A private flight over the sparkling waters, vibrant reefs and renowned landmarks, such as Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef, of the Whitsundays.

A day at Hamilton Island’s Golf Club located on the exclusive Dent Island – grab a buggie, a set of clubs and take your time soaking up the tranquil 360 degree views.

A journey around a selection of coves and beaches with one of the local yacht charter companies.You simply can’t beat the serenity of an isolated corner of the Whitsundays, and journeys can be customised to run for a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Heading to The Whitsundays? Put these great dining options on your itinerary!

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