A Thrilling Tour of Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands

When visiting Airlie Beach, make it a priority to explore the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland home to the most beautiful beach in Australia.

I say that because I’ve walked upon many of Australian beaches, and none have the Wow Meter launching into the stratosphere like Whitehaven Beach does.

It consistently ranks in the best beaches in the world lists on TripAdvisor, just so you know I’ve got backup with my bold statement.

day trip Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia
Ocean Rafting trip to Whitehaven Beach

On our recent trip to Airlie Beach, we jumped on the fastest boat on the water to zip around the Whitsundays and take in as much as we could in one day.

Ocean Rafting is a small, bright yellow semi-rigid inflatable, designed to enter the shallow waters where no other sailing vessels have permission to go – that is right up on the sands of Hill Inlet on Whitehaven Beach beach.

Ocean Rafting is a full-day adventure taking in the best of the Whitsunday Islands and a fun ride when at full speed.

Langford Island

Langford Island - Whitsunday Islands, Queensland.
Langford Island

Our first sign of paradise after departing Airlie Beach was a quick stop at Langford Island, a popular spot with snorkelers, divers and many of the sailing boats that anchor here.

It features a long sand spit that basically disappears at high tide, and judging by the scene we witnessed a magic spot for sunbathing and swimming. 

Whale Watching, Whitsundays

Humpback whale waving hello in the Whitsundays
Humpback whale waving hello

After we sped away from Langford Island a few of the locals who inhabit the waters of the Whitsundays were nice enough to come by and say hello.

We were about a month too early for peak whale season and whilst there are no formal whale watching tours in the Whitsundays, whale sightings can be a free bonus inclusion on your tour which is always exciting.

A friendly humpback whale frolicking in the distance gave us a wave, and it’s times like these when our 300mm zoom lens comes in handy!

animal swimming in water

Not only were our kids overjoyed about seeing our first whale for the season, then shortly after two manta rays glided gracefully by without a care in the world – as they do.

(You can swim with manta rays in Coral Bay, Western Australia – we did and we also swam with manta rays at night on the Big Island of Hawaii)

Snorkeling Whitsunday Islands

Snorkeling in the Whitsunday Islands

Our snorkeling adventures took place at Maureens Cove and Manta Ray Bay, two spots off Hook Island where you can swim with the huge batfish who aren’t shy and will eat out of your hand.

The water was a little chilly upon entering, it was the middle of winter after all, but once we jumped in that quickly became an afterthought as we went exploring for marine life.

Snorkeling in the Whitsunday Islands
Snorkeling in the Whitsunday Islands

This was Kalyra’s first official snorkeling experience and she loved swimming around with daddy comforted by the fact we weren’t out in the middle of the ocean and the shoreline was within easy reach.

Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia

After getting our snorkelling fix we headed down to the biggest island in the Whitsundays, Whitsunday Island, and round the corner for the highlight of our tour – Whitehaven Beach.

Even though we’d been to Whitehaven before and knew what to expect, the moment Australia’s most famous beach comes into view is a site I’ll never tire of seeing.

Is there a prettier site in the Whitsundays? I don’t think so.

As you pull up and step ashore on the pure silica white sand and walk through the shallows of the crystal clear water you know you’re privileged to be setting foot on a real slice of Aussie paradise!

Whitehaven Beach - Whitsunday Islands, Queensland, Australia
Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

The swirling patterns in the white sand and aqua coloured water is like nothing I have ever seen.

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia
Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

You’ll be tempted to just collapse into the water or dig your toes into the powdery soft sand and sit in amazement.

But if you want to get the picture perfect postcard photo and see the beauty of Whitehaven and how the sea interacts with the land, you must do the walk up to Hill Inlet.

Hill Inlet, Whitsunday Islands National Park

Whitehaven Beach Whitsunday Islands (3)

At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach, you’ll enter the Whitsunday Islands National Park, and it’s here you can take the 10-minute short track through the tropical rainforest which leads to this spectacular lookout. (more outstanding national parks in Australia here)

Hill Inlet is a stunning cove where the tide shifts the sand to create a fusion of swirling colours. The patterns of the shifting sands and small deepwater channels of turquoise water stretch from the National Park out into the Coral Sea.

beach with white sand
people walking on white sand next to water
white sand leading into the ocean

Hill Inlet offers magnificent views across Whitehaven Beach and Whitsunday Island.

I’m sure you have seen this site many times through photographs, but you must witness it with your own eyes, it’s truly breathtaking!

It was a brilliant weather day and we got a family snap by using our tripod and the self-timer on our camera for cherished memories!

family standing on a balcony
Looking over Whitehaven Beach from Hill Inlet

The afternoon was spent walking, swimming and then enjoying a delicious lunch of seafood, BBQ chicken and salads on the best white tablecloth nature can provide.

What I loved about this day trip with Ocean Rafting is that we had plenty of time to actually enjoy and photograph Whitehaven Beach.

I’ve heard that on some tours your time on Whitehaven is very short, but if you’ve come all this way to see one of the top 5 beaches in the world you want your time in paradise to be as long as possible.

We had ample time to walk up to Hill Inlet, play on the sand, swim in the water, and lunch time was leisurely. And the amount and quality of the food was impressive.

I like to eat a lot and always get worried on these day trips that there won’t be ample food to satisfy my cravings but there was that much food to go around that I think I ended up having three servings, and our kids were well satisfied too!

If you only have one day to explore the Whitsundays and Whitehaven Beach, this tour is a great option. Our crew were fun and knowledgeable.

Ocean Rafting in the Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
Ocean rafting tour Whitehaven Beach

Depending on the time of year and the weather, make sure you take a jacket as the speed of the boat makes it windy and cool.

Other than that, bring your regular beach-day supplies and get ready for an action-packed day in one of our favourite places in Australia!

The Facts: Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach

Airlie Beach is the main gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and is situated on the mainland.

Getting there – Airlie Beach and The Whitsunday Islands are located a 13-hour drive north of Brisbane or 1hr 45 minute flight. Coming from Cairns it’s a 8-hour drive or 1.25hr flight.


Tours – Ocean Rafting has two different tours to choose from, the Northern Exposure and the Southern Lights tour. The Northern Exposure offers more snorkelling time and the Southern Lights offers more beach time.

Plan Your Trip in the Whitsundays

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Tours in Whitsunday’s

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