In these turquoise waters, you can jet ski or kayak amid coral cays, or take in the panorama of the Whitsundays landscape from a seaplane or helicopter – skydiving is even on offer!
Some islands are deserted protected National Parks, while others offer a variety of resorts, spas and activities all year round, taking advantage of the mild weather which the region is blessed with an average of 300 days per year.
The Whitsundays is home to the renowned island resorts of Hamilton Island, One&Only Hayman Island, Daydream Island Resort and Spa, Long Island Resort, Paradise Bay Eco Escape, Lindeman Island, Brampton Island and South Molle Island, to name just a few.
The largest of the Whitsunday Island resorts, Hamilton Island combines the best of island living: beaches, coral reefs, native flora and fauna, fine dining and the award-winning Hamilton Island Yacht Club. While 70% of the island is national park, Hamilton Island has a full calendar of social events each year, including food and wine festivals, ballet performances, regular school holidays programs and an internationally significant yachting regatta, the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week which runs each August.
The par 71 championship Hamilton Island Golf Club on neighbouring Dent Island is the only championship island golf course in Australia.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven wonders of the natural world, larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.
It's the world's largest coral reef, comprising over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands.
Charter guests to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy snorkelling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins, among many other experiences.
At the start of the island chain, Lady Musgrave Island is a 14 hectares (35 acres) coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef, with a 1,192 hectares (2,950 acres) surrounding reef. The island is the second island in the Great Barrier Reef chain of islands (with the first being Lady Elliot Island). Popular with day trippers and campers, Lady Musgrave Island boasts a beautiful protected anchorage within a semi-enclosed lagoon. The island is considered an ecologically significant natural breeding ground for birds such as white-capped noddy terns, bridled terns, black-naped terns and silver gulls. From December to May, migratory wedge-tailed shearwaters, known as 'mutton birds', nest in burrows, while hundreds of other winged species call the island home at various times of the year.
The island is a nesting place for green and loggerhead turtles, and there is usually a turtle-research representative camping on the island during nesting and hatching times. Small whitetip reef sharks and leopard sharks can often be found in the shallows around the island. These species are not dangerous to humans, and are fascinating to watch. Green and leatherback turtles can be spotted resting on coral, and the coral lagoon is a haven for a multitude of fish and coral species – making for excellent snorkelling.
At the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island, 150 miles north of Cairns, is a haven of isolation, relaxation and indulgence. Lizard Island boasts 24 white sandy beaches and its own dazzling Blue Lagoon, perfect for snorkelling or simply as a scenic backdrop to your charter vacation.
Anglers will revel in Lizard's reputation as one of Australia's most exciting fishing destinations. The famous Lizard Island Black Marlin Classic is held in October and Black Marlin fishing season (September to December) attracts visitors from all over the world, eager to hook a "Grander", a fish over 1,000 pounds. The strict tag and release policy means the animals are healthy and prolific and your chances of catching a legendary Grander are better than anywhere else!