The very name, ‘Whitsundays’, conjures up images of pure white sand, deep blue waters and emerald-green islands with the obligatory waving palm trees. Straight out of the pages of Robinson Crusoe, it’s the stuff of dreams … and tourist brochures.
And it will come as no surprise that the reality is even better. Whitsunday Islands National Park is your golden opportunity to take the family on a 'never to be forgotten' tropical holiday, full of fun new experiences and adventures.
Picture this: Your young ones are frolicking happily on secluded beaches while you relax in the shade. You’re snorkelling over coral reefs with your older kids, watching their eyes pop with excitement behind their masks as the vibrant underwater world opens up before them. Then, in the evening, the kids are tucked up in the tent, lulled gently to sleep by lapping waves, while you watch the moonbeams glistening on the ocean.
You don’t need to embark on a perilous 'Robinson Crusoe' style adventure to get there! All it takes is a short drive to Shute Harbour or Airlie Beach where you can launch your own boat, or take day trips, camping tours or boat transfers to the island(s) of your choice.
Here’s just a taste of the tropical delights in store for you, whether you’re walking, watching wildlife, or frolicking in the water!
Call of the curlew—a camping idyll
If you’re seeking seclusion for your family, look no further! Curlew Beach camping area on Hook Island is a peaceful retreat tucked away from ‘passing traffic’ in Macona Inlet. If you arrive in your own boat (get there before low tide to ensure easy access), there’s a sheltered anchorage next to the camping area.
Pitch the tent behind the sand in the shade of casuarinas and spend your days on the beach and snorkelling on the reef just off shore. As you sit around camp in the evenings, you’ll be serenaded by the haunting calls of bush stone-curlews. They’re the intriguing birds you see during the day standing still as statues then suddenly dashing off on urgent business.
Camped here, you’ll truly feel like island castaways but you won’t have to do the hard yards. We provide a toilet and picnic tables; you bring the shelter, food and water!
Curlew Beach camping area | © Jana Hummelshoj
An island caving adventure—move over Indiana Jones!
Still on Hook Island, take your boat deep inside Nara Inlet for an adventure into the past—think ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’! You won’t find bolts of flames, angels of death or exploding heads but a visit to the Ngaro cultural site is just as intriguing.
Be transported back over 9000 years to a time when the Ngaro Aboriginal people thrived on the ocean’s rich resources. See 2500-year-old rock art adorning the walls of a once-hidden cave—one of the oldest Indigenous sites on Australia’s east coast. The steep, stepped climb to the viewing platform at the cave’s entrance is well worth the effort, as you’ll be captivated by the Ngaro rock art, middens and the stories they reveal. Take a quiet respectful moment with your kids to soak up the peace of this special place. Can they even imagine 2500 years?
And because we’ve got your back, here’s a cool fact to impress the kids: On 4 June 1770, Captain James Cook wrote in his journal, ‘On a sandy beach upon one of the Islands we saw two people and a canoe, with an outrigger’. Ngaro people meet Captain Cook. Well…nearly!
Stay in a place that the whole world envies
The famous white silica sands of Whitehaven are yours for a time when you stay at Whitehaven Beach camping area on Whitsunday Island. Sleep under the stars (or at least under canvas) in your camp site nestled among vine forest behind the beach.
The kids will never want to leave this famous beach with its swirling white silica sands and azure ocean waters brimming with tiny tropical fish ready to nibble their toes. And you? You’ll have one eye on the kids as you laze on the soft sand, taking a dip in the warm water when you feel the urge, and the other eye on the view. Simply heaven! All that’s missing is Man Friday with the cool drinks!
When you can drag the kids away from the beach, there’s an awesome island to explore! Gaze at sweeping island views on the Solway circuit or discover a secluded beach on the Chance Bay track. Naturally, you need a boat to reach this little slice of heaven, and you need to be self-reliant with all your gear but it’s worth the effort!
Go wild in nature—wildlife experiences for the whole family
Wildlife adventures await in the Whitsundays! If you visit during winter, you and your young ones will be awed watching majestic humpback whales that pass through these warm waters to calve between May and September.
Help your kids to discover the magical world beneath the sea when they don mask and snorkel, and swim among a myriad of fish and colourful corals. Listen to their delighted squeals through their snorkels and watch as fins splash and arms wave about, frantic with excitement at each new discovery.
Quieter activities, such as spotting seabirds, are fun too. From soaring sea-eagles to pied oystercatchers prodding the sand, to orange-footed scrubfowl in the forest, there will always be action of the feathered variety.
Kids and kayaks—watery fun for all
Robinson Crusoe had to build his own canoe but you can BYO kayaks. There’s no better way to explore the picture-perfect beaches of Whitsundays Island than under your own paddle-power.
Start the kids young and in no time they’ll be ready to join you on a Ngaro Sea trail adventure, a journey of walks and seaways linking several of the Whitsunday islands! Meanwhile you’ll all have fun, splashing around the shallows, with and without kayaks!
You simply have to do this before the kids grow up and leave home. Visit Whitsunday Islands National Park for more information and take a closer look at Whitsunday’s camping opportunities now! Remember to check park alerts before you go.