Hope everyone's having a great summer, so far and enjoying our 30% OFF BEACH AERIAL SALE! I'm really excited to share today's Travel Guide on the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands, which I spent time in Australia in December/January aka our winter. To say that this part of the world is incredible doesn't even begin to scratch the service on how amazing it was to experience it from the ground and from above. Unsurprisingly, the best time of year to visit is during Australia from June to November as noted by Travel + Leisure due to visibility quality. From experience, though January is quite nice, too! Bottom line now is the time to start planning, don't you think? Let's go!
We've already established the best time to go but the getting there isn't your typical A to B travel, unless of course you're already in Australia. There are direct flights to the Great Barrier Reef airport, which is located on Hamilton Island and greets flights from numerous Australian cities including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne as well as Cairns, which is a city in Queensland and is considered the gateway to the reef.
Jeff and I flew from Sydney into Hamilton Island, which is the most developed of the Whitsundays, as it has it's own airport, post office and bank as well as some resorts. However, it's far from overdeveloped. It is still full of beautiful natural open spaces and has numerous walking trails to explore on foot.
There are 74 islands that make up the Whitsunday Islands but only seven have accommodation options, ranging from the VIP experience on your very own private island to camping on Hook Island. This, of course, means accommodations are available in a variety of ways and more importantly scale accordingly to budget.
To really live it up...because YOLO, One & Only Hayman Island is private island resort and is the nearest island to the Great Barrier Reef.
If a private island resort isn't quite your speed (yet..haha!) other great accommodations include: Daydream Island Resort & Spa, at Water's Edge on Airlie Beach or where we stayed - Reef View Hotel on Hamilton Island.
This is where it really gets fun!
Get on the Sand - The beaches on all of the islands are clearly lovely but the best one of is Whitehaven. Located on the uninhabited Whitsunday Island, Whitehaven Beach is known as one of the world's most spectacular and I must say - I do not disagree! The extremely soft and naturally cool sand combined with the minimal crowd and crystal blue waters makes for a beach day that is nothing but perfection. To get to Whitehaven, you'll want to travel via a charter like Reefstar Cruises or Cruise Whitsundays.
Enjoy the day with minimal effort and catch the sunset on the way back for good measure...
Get in the Water - THE thing to do here is scuba diving and snorkeling...naturally.
Here we are exploring Bait Reef Marine Park, which is about a 20-minute boat ride from Hamilton Island marina. It was incredible drifting through the warm water and seeing all of the sea life below. If you want to learn more about other excellent spots to dip your head in, I found this list to be extremely helpful. Also, if you prefer to have some structure, there are great local companies like Quicksilver Cruises that offer guided tours and gear. If scuba diving is more your thing, it's my understanding that Hamilton Island is the place to start. For more information on scuba diving, this link should be helpful.
Get in the Air - Okay, so this one might go without saying when it comes to how I do travel, but it's also a big must do while visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
Via Helicopter - Nautilus Aviation, GBR Helicopters as well as the one I used Hamilton Air, are all excellent choices for a tour. I'm telling you, getting up in the air is very much a thing to do while visiting this part of the world. There are options of private to small group tours as well as variations on the amount of time in air.
Via Plane - As an alternative to a helicopter ride, there are scenic flight options available with companies like GSL Aviation or Air Whisunday. Who knows, it could have been either one of their flights below when I captured Seaplane, Great Barrier Reef.
And, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed all of this intel on the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands...and ideally, inspired a trip there yourself!