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Beginner’s guide to the Whitsundays

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If relaxing on a Whitsundays  island, swimming on untouched beaches and snorkelling with stingrays sounds like your cup of tea, read on.

All 74 of the Whitsunday islands, scattered across the Great Barrier Reef region of northern Queensland, have a special something to offer families.

Beautiful Whitehaven Beach with turquoise water, white sand and greenery

Whitehaven Beach looks like it has fallen straight off a postcard Picture: Damien Dempsey

How do you know where to start?

Here’s our wrap of the most popular Whitsunday destinations for families.

Hamilton Island – family first

You’ve probably heard of this one. With its renowned Whitehaven Beach and direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Brisbane, Hamilton Island is a popular pick for families. Accommodation options range from high-end luxury to self-catered family homes.

Hire a golf buggy to explore the car-free island. Stop in at awesome activities such as kayaking, art classes, mini golf and snorkelling. The Yacht Club and Golf Club suit older kids and grown-ups wanting a retreat.

Don’t leave without visiting the startling white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach. You can take a day trip by boat, passing by the mesmerising swirling waters of Hill Inlet and venturing up to Tongue Point for unparalleled views.

Pool, cabana and palm trees at Hamilton Island resort

Hamilton Island resorts are perfect with littlies Picture: Kevin Gibbons

Daydream Island – marine adventure

Nice and close to the mainland, access to Daydream Island is from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island. Here, it is all about the water sports. You can pop in for a day trip or an overnight stay.

Snorkel in the sheltered waters beside the fringing reefs. Lover’s Cove is an excellent spot. You can also enjoy resort pools, water sport and an open-air cinema.

Daydream’s point of differentiation is its Living Reef, one of the largest man-made living coral lagoons in the world. It functions like an outdoor aquarium, containing stingrays, sharks, barramundi and hundreds of other fish species. Daily events include Stingray Splash, an encounter with baby rays run by marine biologists. There is also a Guided Fish Feeding and chance to swing by a shark nursery.

People snorkel in secluded cove

Lovers Cove is a great snorkel spot Picture: Tourism and Events Queensland

Long Island – remote nature

Long Island is the closest of the main Whitsunday islands to mainland Australia. It is nine kilometres long, but a measly 400 metres at its widest point. Most of that space is national park, covered in 13 kilometres of bush walking track.

Palm Bay Resort offers lovely Balinese-style accommodation right on the beach. It is self-catered and convenient for family groups. Check out the activities on offer, including kayaking and fishing tours.

Start of mini golf course

Have a play on the mini golf course Picture: Tourism and Events Queensland

Airlie Beach – the mainland option

Many of the natural attractions of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef can be accessed from the mainland. Airlie Beach is the largest town on the Whitsunday coast. It is the perfect launching point for day trips and boat tours, which typically depart from Port Airlie or Abell Point Marina.

Airlie Beach is a worthy destination in its own right. Come back from your island-hopping adventure on the reef to awesome activities such as sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, 4WD touring, mountain biking, bush walking and camping. You can stay in holiday parks such as Big 4, or in 5-star resorts.

Follow the walking trails in Conway National Park for some spectacular lookouts. Waterfalls such as Cedar Creek Falls are worth a wander. Airlie lagoon looks stunning at sunset.

Family on segways along a seaside boardwalk at Airlie Beach

You can go on segway tours near Airlie Beach Picture: Alexandre Gendron Photography/ Tiourism and Events Queensland

If you like the sound of island time on the Whitsundays, check out this story about Lady Musgrave Island and why it is perfect for adventurous families.

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