The Whitsundays, QLD, Australia
There is no doubt that the Whitsundays have some of the most stunning beaches in the world. If you have seen photographs of the purest white silica sand and brilliant turquoise waters, a visit to this region will not disappoint. The sand really is that colour and the water really is that clear. But there isn’t just one great beach to enjoy in this part of Australia’s east coast. Discover the 5 best Whitsunday beaches to make time for in your visit.
When it comes to beaches in the Whitsundays, you really are spoilt for choice. On Queensland’s east coast, the Whitsunday region consists of many mainland beauties as well as 74 islands waiting to be explored. With all these to choose from, it can be a tough job working out which ones to make time for, especially if you have a short visit planned in this stunning area. Many people think they need to head out to the islands for excellent beaches, which can be costly and time consuming. Don’t just focus on the islands because there’s so much beauty to enjoy on the mainland too.
Our top 5 favourite Whitsunday beaches from our East Coast of Australia Road Trip will show you just that. We’ll also give you helpful information on how to get to each one, what type of traveller they suit best and what you will need to bring with you.
1. Hideaway Bay
Hideaway Bay is our favourite place on the mainland in the Whitsunday region. It is literally hidden about a 50 minute drive from popular Airlie Beach. We were sharing it with just one other couple when we visited so if you are keen to find a break from the crowds, this is the option for you. Hideaway Bay is a great choice if you don’t have the money for a sailing trip or don’t like boats, but still want to enjoy the beautiful bright colours the Whitsundays are known for. Choose Hideaway in the morning, before moving on to beach recommendation number 2.
Getting here: 50 minute drive from Airlie Beach town
You will need: a car, refreshments, towel or chair
Great for: low-cost Whitsunday magic
2. Dingo Beach
Dingo Beach is also a drive from Airlie Beach and in the same direction as Hideaway Beach. In contrast to the remoteness of Hideaway, here you will find benches, bathrooms and a swimming enclosure. Take a walk along the stunning coastline and admire the beautiful shells the sea washes up. You can eat overlooking the ocean by bringing a picnic or stop in the local Dingo Pub and Hotel to buy food. You might even be lucky enough to spot wildlife from the shore. Adhere to all crocodile warnings and swim only in the designated safe areas.
It makes sense to visit Hideaway Bay (recommendation number 1) in the morning whilst you are out this way, and then make your way to Dingo Beach before returning to Airlie Beach. Dingo is a little bit more built up than Hideaway, but just as beautiful.
You may also like our top spots for Beach Camping in Australia.
Getting here: 45 minute drive from Airlie Beach town or 10 minute drive from Hideaway Bay
You will need: a car
Great for: safe swimming and lunch
3. Conway Beach
Conway Beach is completely different to Hideaway and Dingo in that the sand on this stretch of beach is not the bright white silica colour found in other parts of the Whitsunday region. This does not take away from its beauty though. Conway stretches for 2km making it a great option for those who love space, especially as its usually completely empty. Conway Beach is a 30 minute drive from Airlie Beach through parts of Conway National Park. It is important to remember that you are in crocodile territory in this region so you are advised not to swim here.
Swimming Option near Conway Beach
If you are keen to swim from the mainland in this part of the Whitsundays, there is a great little stop on the way to Conway Beach. Venture to Cedar Creek Falls which is roughly a half hour drive from Airlie Beach. Here you will find a small waterfall when there’s been rain, but even without rain, this is a great swimming hole. Suitable for children and adults alike, this natural location is a great road trip stop, a day trip in itself or perfect on a drive around Conway National Park.
We made a small detour here and stopped for a swim before continuing another 10-15 minutes to Conway Beach, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch in complete isolation overlooking the glistening, summer water.
Walking Option near Conway Beach
Conway National Park offers walks of varying lengths for all levels of ability. Mount Rooper is considered one of the best with a lookout point offering panoramic views of the Whitsunday islands.
Getting here: 30 minute drive from Airlie Beach town (a little longer if detouring to Cedar Creek Falls on the way)
You will need: A car, refreshments, towel or chair
Great for: the more adventurous
4. Queens Beach
If you have a vehicle for your time in the Whitsundays, just north of Airlie Beach, take the time to visit Bowen and its award winning Queens Beach. Bowen is around a 1 hour drive from the town centre of Airlie, or less from Hideaway Bay or Dingo Beach.
Bowen is well known for delicious KP mangoes so we highly recommend a quick stop in the tourist information centre on your way to Queens Beach, where you can buy 100% mango sorbet. There really is nothing better than Bowen Mango Sorbet to quench your thirst and cool you down on a hot Queensland day.
Continue on to Queens Beach where you can enjoy a picnic for lunch on one of the many public benches provided. Take a peaceful walk along the soft sand with hardly anyone around and relax in the shade of one of the trees. Before you leave Bowen, be sure to head up to Flagstaff Hill for fantastic views of the Whitsunday islands and the turquoise water surrounding them. Take a minute to admire the benches and tables at this lookout point, made from 3500 recycled plastic bottles.
Getting here: 1 hour drive from Airlie Beach town or a 6 minute drive from central Bowen
You will need: a car, refreshments
Great for: experiencing rural and authentic Australia
5. Whitehaven Beach
No one can compile any list involving the best Whitsunday beaches without including world-famous Whitehaven and Hill Inlet. If you are searching for those typical Whitsunday postcard shots, Whitehaven Beach is where you will want to be. Most sailing and boat trips will help you reach these two jaw-dropping locations. Choose from a full-day Sailing trip there and back or overnight sailing adventures that allow you to fall asleep and wake up with those incredible postcard views. An overnight option is best for anyone looking to enjoy a really incredible Whitsunday sunset or sunrise.
You may also be interested in a Hike and Hill Inlet Tour.
Whitehaven Beach by Air
Although sailing is a real bucket list Whitsunday experience, a great social affair and pretty damn cool too, Whitehaven is busiest around the areas that the boats pull in. If what you really seek is untrodden silica sand and warm clear waters away from the crowds, we cannot recommend highly enough splurging on a seaplane or helicopter tour. From the air, you are more easily able to appreciate the views the Whitsundays are most famously known for; that swirling mix of white and blue on the approach to Hill Inlet, with glorious Whitehaven Beach stretching up ahead.
Seeing untouched, crowd-free areas of Whitehaven Beach from the air is one thing, but actually landing on part of this more isolated stretch takes you into a whole new realm of Whitsunday magic. If you fancy a real treat or are celebrating a truly special occasion, choose a helicopter tour that actually lands and leaves you alone for around an hour to enjoy Whitehaven Beach without any interruptions. Not only do you get a bird’s-eye view with a tour like this for the very best photo opportunities, but you also get a Whitsunday beach experience unlike anything that can be offered by the many boat tours that connect to Whitehaven Beach.
Getting here: Whitehaven can be accessed by boat, seaplane or helicopter from Airlie Beach on the mainland. Times vary depending on the tour offered.
You will need: your camera to hand at all times!
Great for: incredible views and an unforgettable Whitsunday experience
You may also enjoy reading Whitsundays By Air.
Where To Stay In The Whitsundays
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to options of where to stay in the Whitsundays. There is something to suit every budget, every traveller and every style of occasion. Here are our top recommendations for your Whitsunday stay:
- For camping choose BIG4 Whitsundays Tropical Eco Resort – formerly known as Flametree Tourist Village
- For a low-cost, central location without the need for a car, choose Base Backpackers
- If you would like a mainland hotel with excellent views and service choose Peppers Airlie Beach
- To treat yourself or a loved one to an island stay right in the heart of the Whitsundays choose Reef View Hotel or Palm Bungalows
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It doesn’t matter if you’re a backpacker, flash packer or family of 4, whether you have access to a car or arrived in Airlie Beach on a bus, whether you’re good with boats or terrible on water, the Whitsundays has a beach location that’s right for you. Choose from these beautiful top 5 Whitsunday Beaches or explore further with island-hopping and longer sailing adventures. Spend your time in this picture-perfect area of Queensland with sand in between your toes and a camera full of insta-worthy images permanently attached to your hand. You can’t say you’ve visited paradise until you’ve witnessed the Whitsundays.
Discover more incredible Whitsunday Tour Ideas here.