A Brief Guide To Whitehaven Beach, Queensland

The scenic Whitsunday Islands
The scenic Whitsunday Islands | © Matt Glastonbury / Tourism Whitsundays
Photo of Ellie Griffiths
9 February 2017

With more than 85 percent of all Australians living along the coast, there is no surprise that the nation’s beaches are among some of the best in the world. Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef lies Australia’s best beach, the picture-perfect sanctuary of Whitehaven Beach. Stretching along the Whitsunday Island for seven kilometres, this pristine and award-winning beach should be on everyone’s bucket list.

History of Whitehaven Beach

Accessible by boat, Whitehaven Beach was discovered and named by Staff Commander EP Bedwell in 1879 and has long been known for its white sands and beautiful scenery. The bright white sand lying along this beach consists of 98 percent pure silica, making it very soft and fine, and it doesn’t retain heat like most other sand beaches – so it’s comfortable to walk barefoot on any day of the year. This sand is so fine, in fact, that it can clean your diamonds and jewellery!

Being the largest beach in the Whitsundays, this dreamlike paradise is unlike any other beach in Australia as its soft sand, turquoise waters and lush foliage continue to be untouched by pollution and inhabitation, where cigarette smoking is prohibited, and dogs are not permitted on the beach. Due to this, in 2008, Whitehaven Beach was awarded Queensland’s Cleanest Beach by Keep Australia Beautiful and further named the top Eco-Friendly Beach in the world by CNN in 2010.

Surprisingly, it has been said that over 10,000 years ago, the Whitsundays were once mountaintops; however, due to the rising sea levels, islands were formed from these mountaintops. Before the water levels rose, the Ngaro Aboriginal people lived in this area when they were all part of the mainland. Today, the descendants of this tribe still reside within the Whitsundays, whilst these islands reveal the careful consideration that the Government has undergone to preserve such Aboriginal culture and a natural world.

To protect the environment and endangered species found in the Whitsundays, the Queensland Government declared Whitsunday Island and the surrounding islands as national parks, and they also fall under the World Heritage Listed Area of the Great Barrier Reef.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands, QLD | Courtesy of Tourism Australia © Maxime Coquard

What To See & Do

Whilst on Whitsunday Island, there is plenty to see and do in your day trip here; no matter what your plans are for the day, ensure you pack plenty of food and water as there are no restaurants or hotels located here. From building sandcastles in the sand to exfoliating the skin through walking along the pristine beach and frolicking in the warm water, Whitehaven Beach is without a doubt a White-Heaven.

On Whitsunday Island, head to Tongue Point where you will be witness to the fusion of colours and one of the best views of Whitehaven Beach. From here, explore and hike through the Whitsunday Islands National Park, before stopping by the Hill Inlet on your way back down to Whitehaven Beach. Along the shallows of the shore, if you’re lucky, you may be visited by one of the various marine life that call this place home – from turtles to dolphins, be sure to say hello and get your picture, but don’t put them or yourself in danger. If you’re not so lucky, then head out on a yacht, a jet ski, diving or snorkelling tour and explore the Great Barrier Reef itself.

If you are visiting Whitehaven Beach in June, witness or take part in the half marathon, five-kilometre and ten-kilometre runs along the beach in the annual Great Whitehaven Beach Run. Also, along this beach is the annual 750-metre and two-kilometre ocean swim meet of Whitehaven Beach Ocean Swim, occurring every November.

Kayaking at Whitehaven Beach | © Phill Gordon / Tourism Whitsundays

Where To Eat:

If old-school Aussie treats from a local bakery are what you are after, then head down to the renowned Bob’s Bakery. From fluffy Lamingtons and neenish tarts to delicious meat pies and sausage rolls, there is something for everyone, whether you are after something for brekky or something for the picnic basket.

Specialising in seafood, the elegantly modern Mariners Restaurant serves Australian local seafood in the heart of the Hamilton Island Marina. Whether you want to relax inside or out on the balcony overlooking the Marina, you can enjoy your fresh fish, prawns and oysters as the sun sets across the water.

The easygoing waterside venue of Marina Tavern is the perfect place, catering to even the fussiest of eaters. With a choice of indoor or outdoor deck seating, an incredible view overlooking the Hamilton Island Marina from the TAB bar upstairs, and serving meals such as steaks, fresh salads and schnitzel, this tav is one way to wind down after an adventurous day on the island. After all, who doesn’t love good pub food?

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands, QLD | Courtesy of Tourism Australia © Maxime Coquard

Where To Stay:

Now if you are desperate to stay on Whitsunday Island, whether within the National Park or along the tranquil beach, or you are on a tight budget, your best (and only) option is to go camping. With camp sites nestled amongst the lowland vine forest and the eucalyptus woodland behind Whitehaven Beach, ensure you get your permits before heading out.

Surround yourself by the tropical gardens on the nearby Hamilton Island in the three-star hotel of Palm Bungalows. These holiday units are located three minutes from Catseye Beach and a comfortable 14-minute stroll from Hamilton Island Marina. These small but spacious units will provide a peaceful and relaxing break on your affordable island escape.

The adult-only oasis of the Beach Club allows you to escape your busy life, take in the view of the Coral Sea, and relax in this serene boutique resort. Featuring modern, airy rooms, à la carte breakfast and windsurfer and snorkelling equipment, this five-star hotel allows you to wander down to the beach on your own time or have a romantic private dining experience all in one place, without worrying about the crying baby next door.

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands, QLD | Courtesy of Tourism Whitsundays © Phill Gordon

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