Whitehaven Beach picture1 of 2
Whitehaven Beach2 of 2
DarrenTierney/Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Natural Wonders, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.6

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

It's the most photographed beach in all of Australia, and after one look at its white sands, you'll understand why. Stretching across more than 4 miles of Whitsunday Island's east coast, Whitehaven Beach is made up of 98 percent pure white silica. These alabaster sands prevent heat retention, meaning you won't feel like you're walking across a string of hot coals while wandering along the swirling azure shoreline.

When you're not diving or snorkeling in the stunning beryl-tinted waters, recent travelers recommend taking a short hike to the Hill Inlet lookout at Tongue Point for photo ops and panoramic vistas. But keep in mind, jellyfish are plentiful in Queensland in summer and fall, so you'll need to wear protective gear if you plan on swimming during these seasons. Past visitors also suggest using ample sunscreen with a high SPF to avoid getting burned.

The best way to get to Whitehaven Beach – which is free to visit 24 hours a day – is by boat. Power boats, luxury yachts and ferries by companies like Cruise Whitsundays and Grand Prix Yachting offer daytrips that depart daily from Shute Harbour (near Airlie Beach) or Hamilton Island. Many overnight sailing trips also make a stop at Whitehaven Beach. But if one afternoon along the ashy sands isn't enough, you can also set up camp in the eucalyptus woodland behind the beach. For more information about daytrip operators and tours, visit Tourism Whitsundays' Whitehaven Beach page.

See all Hotels in Great Barrier Reef »

More Best Things To Do in Great Barrier Reef

Diving and Snorkeling1 of 9
Cairns2 of 9
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Diving and Snorkeling

Many visitors say the Great Barrier Reef is best seen through a scuba mask, but it's no small feat to traverse the area's dive spots. When choosing which regions to explore, consider your skill level, the amount of travel involved and the trip length in that area. Two of the most popular diving and snorkeling locales are listed below:

Hosting a kaleidoscope of fish, sea turtles and humpback whales, Cairns' reefs are teeming with wildlife. Known locally as the Outer Barrier Reef, these reefs are ideal for first-time divers and families because of the one- to three-hour travel times from Cairns' Reef Fleet Terminal. Popular spots by Cairns include Michaelmas Cay, Moore Reef, Green Island and Hastings Reef. Ocean FreeSeastar Cruises and Tusa Dive all offer a variety of half- to full-day cruises; diving and snorkeling cruise packages start at 205 Australian dollars ($152) per adult and AU$120 ($89) for each child.

Read more
chameleonseye/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Great Barrier Reef »

Explore More of Great Barrier Reef

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

CDC Coronavirus Travel Updates: What to Know About Current Travel Restrictions

Cruises suspend sailings; hotels, airlines tweak cancellation policies; see the latest CDC travel advisories.

What Will Happen to My Elite Status and Points Because of the Coronavirus?

Limited travel due to the coronavirus prompts airline and hotel rewards programs to make policy changes.

14 Top Jigsaw Puzzles, Games and Books to Keep Travelers Entertained

Even though you're stuck at home, you can still indulge your wanderlust with these activities.

15 Top Cookbooks to Buy

Travel to far-flung destinations and enjoy international food without leaving home.

The 12 Best Language-Learning Apps, Programs and Online Courses

Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill.

The 13 Best Sedona Tours

Get lost in the magic of Sedona's red rocks on these top adventures.

What is an Ecolodge? 21 Top Eco Resorts and Eco Hotels Around the World

Luxury meets environmental welfare at these top-notch ecolodges.

The 12 Best Puerto Rico Tours

Experience island living at its best on one of these guided trips.

I Went On a Cruise During the Coronavirus Pandemic. This Is What Happened.

Coronavirus concerns, itinerary changes and uncertainty lead to an unusual vacation.

5 Travel-Themed Activities to Do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Use these suggestions to fill the travel void amid the pandemic.