How To Get To Whitehaven Beach


Trekking to Whitehaven Beach can be done by boat or helicopter. Many visitors choose to come to Whitehaven Beach each year to see its breathtaking beaches and white sands! It is located along the southeastern coast of the Whitsunday Islands you get there by air or boat only.

The typical starting point to Whitehaven Beach is from Arlie beach which takes an hour and 20 minutes. This 34 km ferry ride is usually done via a guided tour.

From the Port of Airlie, a ferry departs hourly and will bring you to the Hamilton Marina, pick up additional passengers and from there it is about a 30 min ride to Whitehaven Beach.

Scenic flights via seaplane or helicopter can reach the beach directly in 15 minutes boats generally take about 2 hours whilst high-speed vessels can reach the beach in an hour. These travel times may vary depending on the tide and weather conditions.

Where Is Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsundays Island and is a 7 km stretch of silica sand with azure water. The beach provides a perfect landscape for many types of water and land activities.

Whitehaven Beach has two parts – the northern end accessed by Tongue Bay which brings you to Hill Inlet Lookout and the southern end where you can access several walking tracks and campsites.

Departure Points To Whitehaven Beach

In addition to departing from Airlie Beach, you can also depart from Hamilton Island or Daydream Island.

From Hamilton Island– You can arrive at Whitehaven Beach within 30 minutes via high-speed catamaran, a ferry that departs from Airlie Beach and passes through Hamilton Marina or you can depart from the Hamilton Island Air Terminal via a 30-minute scenic helicopter flight, 10-minute helicopter ride or by seaplane.

From Daydream Island – Whitehaven Beach can be reached with a 25-minute ferry ride across the Coral Sea.

Travel Distances To Whitehaven Beach

If you are coming from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, you would want to take a flight into one of the two main airports that services Whitsundays. Which would be the Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island or the Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine.

Great Barrier Reef Airport provides an access point to the islands and the Great Barrier Reef, whilst Whitsundays is considered the gateway to the region. From Brisbane, the distance is about 1215km, from Sydney it’s about 1520 km, from Melbourne you are looking at about 1987 km and from Cairns to Hamilton and to Whitehaven you are looking at about 508 km.

Travel Times To Whitehaven Beach

The travel time to getting to Whitehaven Beach can vary depending on the method of travel that is used and where you are coming from.

Flying times to Whitsundays are typically as follows:

  • 1.5 hours north of Brisbane
  • 2 hours north of Sydney
  • 3 hours from Melbourne
  • 1.5 hours from Cairns to Hamilton

Driving times can take anywhere from half a day to two days from the majority of the locations whether you go by car, train or bus. This is in addition to the travel time from departure points via ferry, charter boat (bareboat or tour), helicopter or seaplane.

Travelling Options

The Whitsundays Island region offers many options to see Whitehaven Beach. The following options tend to limit the time you have on the beach itself, however, you still experience the breathtaking scenery.

Aerobatics – Allows you to fly with a fighter pilot of a combat plane doing aerobatic stunts as you view the beach from the air.

Seaplane tours – You can fly over the Whitsundays Island with this scenic flight and then land directly on the beach.

Helicopter tour – You take a 15-minute helicopter ride to Whitehaven beach and are given a couple of hours to explore the beach.

Scenic Flights – You fly over the Whitsundays island with an aerial view of Whitehaven Beach, and surrounding lookout spots. This typically lasts for about an hr or 2.

Best Way To Travel To Whitehaven Beach

To reiterate, Whitehaven Beach is accessible by water or air guided tours. These tours can be a couple of hours, a day tour or overnight tour. The best way to travel to Whitehaven Beach is by taking an overnight boat tour.

By taking an overnight tour of Whitehaven Beach, you have more time and freedom to explore both ends of the beach.

What To Bring When Arriving At Whitehaven Beach

It is important to know that Whitehaven has limited facilities, basically outhouses, toilet facilities, and picnic areas. With that being said, you want to make sure that you are well prepared. Here are some items that you want to have on hand:

  • Stinger suits or wetsuits – This will protect the majority of your body from jellyfish stings. Jellyfish can be found in these waters year-round even though stinger season is during the summer months.
  • Gloves, suit hoods and swim shoes – this gives additional protection especially for children, elderly or pregnant women
  • Pool noodles or life jackets – primarily for those who aren’t strong swimmers
  • Camera bag – to protect your camera when you’re not using it
  • Sunscreen – The chances of getting a sunburn increase on the beach, so you want to make sure that protect your skin.
  • Reusable water bottle – You need to stay hydrated while exploring the beach, so it’s important to keep water on hand.
  • Thongs/sneakers – For the most part, you will be barefoot, however, you may end up doing a bushwalk to the beach or Hill Inlet Lookout-which it is recommended to have footwear.
  • Change of clothes/swimwear – If you decide to swim or do any type of water activities, obviously you want to have your swimsuit on hand. You would also need a change of dry clothes to put on after you get out of the water.
  • Insect repellant some beaches may have sand files.

If you choose to camp overnight at Whitehaven Beach, here are additional items that you should have on you:

  • First aid kit
  • Food or snacks
  • Tarp
  • Water – There are no freshwater resources available, so you want to have enough to stay hydrated.

The above items are just to give you an idea of what to bring with you to the beach. You can always contact your tour guide for their recommendations on what to bring. You should also verify if any permits are required whether it’s for camping or anchoring a boat.

What To Expect When Arriving At The Beach

The sand is extremely silky and white, surprisingly the sand was never that hot this is due to the sand is 98% silicon, so it repels the heat even under the sun all day. You will see lots of stingrays, even from the water they are very visible!

Along with plenty of lemon sharks galore, Have a go at feeding the fish while you are there.

Show them respect and they won’t bother you, It does get quite busy with incoming boats, You can only get here by boat as you have read before, and the trip itself is quite beautiful. It’s recommended that you camp here for a minimum of two nights to get your own feel of a deserted island.

Rangers are on duty daily so don’t worry too much about the outside world when staying on the island. You will find bathrooms and shade available for you to take rest and much-needed break.

The local ferry is set to drop off and pick up campers every day, (If needed you can request items that they can bring along the next day if you are staying more than three days). The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space and is the world’s greatest single structure made by living creatures.

With one of the negatives of camping is the bush flies that are found in abundance they will surround and some often bite at you as you walk through the open forest areas. Be sure not to take any bright-coloured pink or purple bags as they seem highly attracted to these bright colours. Carry a good Bushmans brand Insect repellant and you should have a better time.

Final Thoughts

To some Whitehaven Beach is considered heaven on earth. Therefore it doesn’t matter how you choose to travel to the beach, the journey itself is a once in a lifetime experience.

It was also once thought to have the Whitest Sand In Australia, but after many tests were conducted, it was found that prize went to a beach named Lucky Bay far away from Whitehaven Beach.

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