How to get to Whitehaven Beach From Airlie Beach?

admin on December 24th, 2023

Before we answer the question of how to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach let’s ask the question, why do visitors to the Whitsundays want to get to Whitehaven Beach, what is the attraction of Whitehaven Beach and where is it?

One of the World’s Best Beaches

Whitehaven Beach has consistently been recognised as one of the world’s best beaches over the years in various rankings and awards. It beckons travellers with its white luminescent sand and crystal-clear waters. It features 7 kilometres of pristine, white silica sand, which is among the purest in the world. The sand is so fine and bright that it doesn't retain heat, making it comfortable to walk on even in the hottest weather and it even squeaks when you dig your feet in. And if you are very gentle you can even polish some of your jewellery in the soft silky sand.

Hill Inlet

Another attraction of Whitehaven Beach is the Hill Inlet lookout points. Located at the northern end of the beach, the hike up to Hill Inlet offers one of the most photographed views in Australia with influencers and other visitors Instagram feeds showing the stunning views of the winding sandy inlet to the world over.

The hike to Hill Inlet Lookout from Whitehaven Beach is a relatively short and enjoyable one, offering breathtaking views once you reach the top. The distance to the lookout is about 700 meters one way, making it a 1.3km round trip. The journey is not just a simple walk; it's a slightly uphill climb through bushland, but it's considered an easy hike that most travellers can comfortably accomplish. The average time to complete this hike is around 40 minutes, depending on your pace and fitness level.

Another question we get asked often is what is there to do at Whitehaven Beach, so we have listed a few of the fun activities below.

Things To Do at Whitehaven Beach

  • Swimming and Snorkelling: The crystal-clear waters of Whitehaven Beach are perfect for swimming.
  • Hill Inlet Lookout Hike: A must-do is the hike to Hill Inlet Lookout. This walk provides stunning views of the beach and the famous swirling sands, creating an unforgettable photo opportunity.
  • Beach Activities: With its 7km stretch of sand, Whitehaven Beach is ideal for beach activities like frisbee, volleyball, or simply building sandcastles. Its fine silica sand is also known for being gentle on jewellery, offering a unique way to polish any silver accessories.
  • Paddleboarding and Kayaking: The calm waters make it perfect for paddleboarding and kayaking, allowing visitors to gently cruise along the coastline and enjoy the serene environment.
  • Relaxing and Sunbathing: For those looking to relax, the beach is a perfect spot. With its soft, cool sand and tranquil atmosphere, it's an ideal place for sunbathing or reading a book.
  • Exploring the Flora and Fauna: The area around Whitehaven Beach is rich in Australian flora and fauna. Visitors can spot various bird species, marine life, and maybe even wallabies along the beach.
  • Guided Tours: Many visitors opt for guided tours that include informative talks about the beach's ecosystem and history, adding an educational aspect to the visit.
  • Photography: Given its scenic beauty, Whitehaven Beach is a paradise for photographers, from professionals to Instagram enthusiasts.
  • Picnicking: Many tourists bring their own picnic or enjoy the meals provided in their tour packages, making the most of the idyllic setting for a beachside lunch.
  • Exploring North Whitehaven Beach and South Whitehaven Beach: Each end of the beach offers unique experiences - from the secluded cove of Betty’s Beach at the north to the expansive stretch of sand at the south.

Despite its popularity, Whitehaven Beach often feels secluded, offering a peaceful escape from crowded tourist spots. Its location on Whitsunday Island accessible only by boat or helicopter adds to its exclusive and tranquil ambiance.

Travelling to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach is an adventure, with so many boat tour options and scenic flight options to suit every one’s itinerary. Here's how to make the journey as unforgettable as the destination.

Getting to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach?

Accessing Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach is a seamless experience, with the primary modes of transport being on a half day tour or full day tour, multi-night sailing holiday or on an exciting helicopter ride or scenic airplane flight. A lot of visitors opt for a one-day boat tour, which is favoured for its convenience and cost-effectiveness. Boats departing from Airlie Beach usually take 1-2 hours to reach Whitehaven Beach.

Daily boat services from Airlie Beach:

  • Port of Airlie Marina
  • Coral Sea Marina Airlie Beach
  • Shute Harbour

There are so many options when choosing your boat tour to Whitehaven Beach, whether you opt for a boat tour, private charter or a luxury superyacht, Barrier Reef Australia have the options to suit you. Here are just some of the Whitehaven Beach tour options we recommend:

Half day tours

Cruise Whitsundays: Departing Port of Airlie. Choose from a half day morning tour 7.00am to 2.15pm or a half day afternoon tour 12.00 midday to 6.10pm. 2 hours on South Whitehaven Beach. Tour includes morning or afternoon tea.
See all Half Day Tour Options

Full day tours

Cruise Whitsundays: Departing Port of Airlie. Spend a full 6 hours at the Northern and Southern sections of Whitehaven Beach. Enjoy a guide tour of Hill Inlet with our boat crew and take those famous photos from the top over the swirling sands of Whitehaven Beach Inlet. Catering for the day is morning and afternoon tea and a gourmet burger for lunch and a charcuterie board on the return to port boat cruise.
Camira: For a full day of tropical adventure, set sail onboard a first-class modern catamaran on a voyage through Whitsunday Passage. Guided walk to Hill Inlet and lookout, approx. 45 minutes snorkelling at surrounding fringing reef. indulging in a BBQ and seafood lunch.
Whitsunday Bullet: This is one of the cheapest, best value Whitehaven Beach tours in Airlie Beach. Stand up paddle boards at Whitehaven Beach, Take a guided walk up thru the forest to the Hill Inlet and snorkel the surrounding reefs.
Ocean Rafting: Fastest boats in the Whitsundays - meaning you get to explore more! The only Great Barrier Reef tour to have direct access to Hill Inlet beaches at Whitehaven Beach. Free snorkel instruction, snorkelling equipment and flotation devices. Visit both ends of world-famous Whitehaven Beach.

Viper: This is a simply must not miss high speed, high action Whitsundays snorkelling tour that shows you the best snorkelling on the outer Great Barrier Reef and takes you to Hill Inlet and South Whitehaven beach in the one day.

See all Whitehaven Beach tours.

Private Charter Boats

Whitsundays Private Charters: You have the freedom to select from various areas such as the cozy sun lounger, sociable cockpit, or relaxing aft deck, each offering the flexibility of basking in the sun or seeking shade based on your preference. Our experienced skipper will guide you in choosing the perfect destination based on your preferences and the prevailing weather and wind conditions. Various activities are available such as snorkelling, sea scooters and paddle boarding. There are full day (6hrs) and half day (4hrs) options available for your visit to Whitehaven Beach.
Charter Boats: Have a small group or larger group and need a private charter boat? The various types of boats have a skipper and may even provide some sort of catering options and have other destinations they may visit for snorkelling on the day. Some charter boats will even have bathroom amenities on the charter boat.  All Great Barrier Reef tours in the Whitsundays are customisable to suit the location of embarkation, the purpose of travel, and the places you wish to see and experience for yourself. Choose the number of hours you wish to charter the boat and the pick-up location, and Barrier Reef Australia will provide a quotation for you and your group.


Visitors can charter a superyacht in the Whitsundays for a day or multi-day charter and a visit to Whitehaven Beach is a must on the yachts itinerary along with other iconic destinations on the Great Barrier Reef. Here are just a sample of some of the superyachts that call the Whitsundays their home port.

  • Nisi - 24.90m (81.8ft) Multi-award winning designed yacht capable of accommodating 6 guests overnight with a 4th cabin on request.
  • Texas T - Luxury expedition style 28.05mt (92ft) accommodatin 8 guests overnight in 4 luxurious ensuite cabins.
  • Alani - Based on Hamilton Island this luxury yacht can cater for 35 guests on a day charter and 6 guests on overnight charters.
  • La Mar - Catering for 12 day guests and 6 guests overnight this 24m (78ft) yacht calls Hamilton Island its home port. 
  •    Change these yachts to Nisi – Texas T – La Mar – Alani as they are there permanently

During the months of May to November quite a number of superyachts make their way back to the Whitsundays for the peak superyacht charter season giving guests a much wider choice of motor yachts.  

Whitehaven Beach Scenic Flights

For a touch of luxury and unparalleled aerial views, travellers can choose a scenic flight option and arrive by helicopter to Whitehaven Beach. While these options are pricier compared to some of their nautical counterparts, the panoramic views of the Whitsunday Islands they provide are extraordinary.

Helicopter rides take off from Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island and Proserpine Airport, a 30-minute drive from the centre of Airlie Beach. You can easily reach the airport via taxi or local bus services. 

Whether by cruising across the Great Barrier Reef on a boat tour or from the sky in a helicopter or airplane, reaching Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach is a journey that is both straightforward and thrilling.

How long does it take to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach?

Your choice of transportation will determine how quickly you can arrive at Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach. Opting for a scenic flight is the quickest option, whisking you to the beach in approximately 15 minutes. For those pressed for time, flying offers an expedient route to Whitehaven Beach and offers one of the most magnificent views your eyes will ever see.

Boat tours to Whitehaven vary in duration according to boat size and type of boat. A swift powered vessel can slice across the Great Barrier Reef, delivering you from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven Beach in roughly one hour – a perfect compromise between speed and the opportunity to enjoy seeing the lush green islands that make up the Whitsundays.

For a more relaxed and unhurried style of travel, sailing is another mode of choice. Sail boats offer a more relaxed pace, with the trip taking about two hours. The Whitsundays is well known as a sailing holiday destination and those with time to indulge in the Whitsunday experience might consider a multi-day sailing adventure, which normally always includes a leisurely stop at Whitehaven Beach.

Travel options depart Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island daily.

Read our blog on The Best Ways To See Whitehaven Beach

And how to visit Whitehaven Beach from Hamilton Island

And for all things Great Barrier Reef take a look at these blogs

And if you still have some questions contact the crew at Barrier Reef Australia and they will be more than pleased to give you some good advice.


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