Having lived in Airlie Beach for four months now and been surrounded by the industry, I’ve got to know a fair bit about the boats that travel the famous Whitsunday Islands. There are 50+ yachts that tour the Whitsunday Islands and while most of them will hit up the same locations, they all vary in price, size, time frames, departure days and most importantly – clientele. A Whitsundays boat trip is often the highlight of any Aus adventure so make sure you choose the right one! So here we go – a little list of top tips and things to think about when booking a trip.
5 Things To Consider
1. Time Frame
How long have you got? How much time do you want to spend on the water? Just a day? Overnight? Boats range from day trips to three days, three nights. How many snorkel spots do you want to visit? How long do you want to spend on Whitehaven?
2. Fellow passengers
What do you want to get out of your trip? A small laid-back catamaran with some interesting conversation? Or a big party boat where you drink your way around the islands? Different boats are geared towards different folks – this is something to keep in mind when booking if you’re booking it yourself online rather than through a travel agent. If you’re unsure, hit up the reviews.
3. Activities & Diving
Do you want to go diving? Most spots will stop off for a snorkel but not all offer scuba diving – double check this before you book if you’re keen. Also something to keep in mind – not all boats go and dive the outer reef.
If you’re after some more activities there are also trips with added extras on board – such as paddle boards, glass bottom kayaks and jacuzzis. If that’s something you’re interested in, just ask your travel agent or check the boat spec. online.
4. To Sail or not to Sail?
Is the boat itself important to you? Surprisingly, it’s not to a lot of people, but for me how could it not be?! There are heaps of boats to choose between – from pirate ships to racing purple catamarans. If you’d like to pitch in and learn how to bounce up the main sail, a few boats such as Southern Cross even advertise themselves as a sailing experience where you can help out and learn a few bits and bobs about sailing.
BONUS TIP : Get seasick? Thunder Cat’s build is well known for being super stable and a great option if you get the belly wobble.
5. Itinerary & Whitehaven Beach
Keep in mind when choosing a boat trip that most boats will hit up the same spots but these spots will change depending on the winds and weather and nothing is guaranteed – even Whitehaven Beach! In the very unlikely event that weather conditions mean you can’t stop off at Whitehaven, please don’t get mad at your crew – it’s not their fault – if you don’t go to Whitehaven neither do they.
Something else to bare in mind is that not all of the boats stopping off at Whitehaven will drop anchor in the same place – if you’re interested in doing a short bush walk up to a lookout over the beach, you will want to jump on a boat heading to Hill Inlet or Tongue Bay.
How Should I Book it?
Travel agents are great resources and can absolutely point you in the right direction but keep in mind they’re there to sell and if they’ve been asked to sell a certain boat that day they will. For me the best option would be to go online, do your research and contact them before you get to Airlie Beach.
When’s the Best Time to Book?
Now! Some boats get booked up fast, especially during peak season. If you leave it until you arrive in Airlie, you may miss out!
“DAMN, I’ve only just come across this fantastically tremendous advice but unfortunately I need to get on a boat tomorrow. What should I do?”
Head to the travel agents in town with an idea of what sort of boat you’d like to get on. Booking last minute can actually work in your favour as trips get put on to standby rates if they haven’t been booked up, meaning you can save more than a dollar or two.
BONUS TIP : After you’ve booked you’re trip – make sure you know which marina you’re departing from – there are three. Most go from Abell Point Marina just outside of Airlie Central and a short walk down the board walk, not the one that the greyhound drops you off at (Port of Airlie). Abel Point also has a North and South and you need the right one! Just double check with your agent when picking up your tickets.