Updated: March 20, 2024

Dreaming of embarking on a Whitsunday Island tour by boat in Airlie Beach, Australia? The anticipation of the wonders that await you in the midst of this tropical paradise is within your grasp.  

But with countless of boat trip options at your fingertips, selecting the perfect one can feel like a mammoth task. Fear not, for our all-encompassing guide is here to be your compass. 

Join us as we delve into what to expect from a Whitsunday Island tour, discover the optimal time to embark on this adventure, and explore the top Whitsunday Island boat tours from Airlie Beach that you simply cannot miss. Stay tuned for our insider tips and FAQ section to address any lingering questions.

Get ready to experience the magic of Whitsunday!

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Compare the Best Whitsunday Island Tours by Boat from Airlie Beach

We've gathered an exceptional selection of the top-rated Whitsunday Island Boat Tours departing from Airlie Beach, divided into Most Popular Multi-Day Boat Trips and Day Tours.  Easily compare prices with our convenient booking links, and see our more detailed descriptions, showcasing their unique features and inclusions.

Quick Booking Links

1. Most Popular Multi-Day Boat Trips:

2. Most Popular Day Tours:

1. Descriptions of Most Popular Multi-Day Tours


Embark on an extraordinary three-day voyage aboard the New Horizon schooner that grants you the freedom to tailor your experience to your desires. Enjoy included breakfast, dinner, and lunch, and immerse yourself in thrilling activities like SUP boardingscuba diving, and snorkeling, during the sunlit hours, while enjoying the serenity of air-conditioned comfort when night falls. 

Most chosen by: Couples & Groups seeking adventure


  • 2 nights accommodation
  • Lunch
  • Use of Snorkeling equipment
  • Professional guide
  • Coffee and/or Tea
  • Snacks and drinkable tap water
  • 2 x Breakfast
  • 2 x Dinner

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Coral Sea Marina - South End - Meeting Point C, Airlie Beach
  • Hotel Pick-Up: Not Available
  • Starting Time: 01:30 AM
  • Duration: approx. 3 days
  • Type of Boat: Vessel
  • Passengers: max. 32 passengers


See the Whitsunday Islands like never before on this 2-day sailing trip with a small-group. Aboard a luxurious yacht, experience the mesmerizing views of Whitsunday Islands beauty. Go snorkeling on the best snorkeling spots, like  Hill Inlet Lookout, and Whitehaven Beach, or simply unwind on the spacious deck.  

Most chosen by: Outdoor lovers looking to explore the Whitsunday Islands uniquely


  • Two-day overnight sailing tour
  • Captain
  • Crew
  • Meals
  • Snorkel gear
  • Wetsuits/stinger suits

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Meeting Point C, South Village, in Coral Sea Marina, Airlie Beach
  • Hotel Pick-Up: Not Available
  • Starting Time: 8:00 AM
  • Duration: approx. 2 days
  • Type of Boat: Luxurious yacht

2. Descriptions of Most Popular Day Trips


The 7-hour Ocean Rafting Tour to the magnificent Whitsunday Islands offers the choice of two great tour options, allowing you to customize your adventure to suit your desires. Decide whether you prefer more snorkeling or more beach time.

This adventurous tour stands out for its fast motorized raft, which allow more time to enjoy the beauty of the Whitsundays. Climb aboard the high-speed inflatable boat and experience the "wild side" of this stunning archipelago. Visit Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and enjoy snorkeling in magical spots. 

Most chosen by: Snorkeling enthusiasts


  • Ocean Rafting Tour with visit to Whitehaven Beach & Hill Inlet 
  • Guided National Park walks
  • Inner fringing coral reef snorkeling
  • Reef and island naturalist talks by Master Reef Guides, Eco Host & Marine Biologist 
  • Courtesy bus transfers

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Coral Sea Marina, North end village next to Sorrentos Restaurant, Airlie Beach
  • Hotel Pick-Up: Available from designated meeting points
  • Starting Time: Varies depending on option chosen
  • Duration: approx. 7 hours
  • Group Size: max. 32 participants
  • Type of Boat: motorized high-speed raft


This 8.5-Hour Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Day Tour includes a typical Australian beach barbecue and a hassle-free transfer from your hotel. Offering the perfect blend of relaxation and "Aussie" fun, you get to discover the beauty of Whitehaven Beach, one of the most stunning beaches in the world. Embark on a guided bush walk to Whitehaven Lookout, where breathtaking views await. This full-day trip is ideal for families with kids of all ages, offering plenty of relaxation time and kid-friendly activities.

Most chosen by: Families with kids


  • Complimentary Transfers from your Hotel
  • Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Day Tour
  • Morning and Afternoon Tea
  • BBQ lunch (Steak, sausage, rissoles cooked to order; Salad and fruits) 
  • Refill Water station
  • Stinger Suits in stinger season

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Coral Sea Marina North End - Meeting Point B, Airlie Beach
  • Hotel Pick-Up: Available from designated meeting points
  • Starting Time: 08:00 AM
  • Duration: approx. 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Group Size: max. 37 participants
  • Type of Boat: Vessel with semi-outdoor & rooftop seating, plus on-board toilets


Experience the ultimate adventure on a full-day snorkeling cruise to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout. Get ready to board Thunder Cat, a high-speed catamaran, and sail through the Whitsundays. Immerse yourself in the vibrant kaleidoscopic wonders of the marine life, exploring not one but two fantastic snorkeling spots.

Marvel at the breathtaking coastal vistas from Hill Inlet Lookout before indulging in a buffet lunch onboard. This action-packed tour is perfect for all ages and skill levels, promising a day filled with thrills and relaxation in paradise!

Most chosen by: Groups of friends


  • Hotel pickup and drop-off by bus
  • Return bus transfers from Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, or Jubilee Pocket
  • Full-day cruise
  • Morning snack
  • Afternoon snack
  • Lunch
  • Use of snorkelling equipment (mask & snorkel)
  • Stinger suit hire and wetsuit hire (winter months only)
  • Park fees and fuel levy

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Hotel Pick-Up included
  • Starting Time: 09:00 AM
  • Duration: approx. 8 hours
  • Group Size: max. 38 participants
  • Type of Boat: "Thunder Cat" - a high-speed catamaran


For those seeking a shorter half-day Whitsundays cruise, this 6-hour trip with a visit to Whitehaven Beach could be the perfect choice. It's available in the morning or afternoon and includes a delightful morning or afternoon tea. Opt for the morning cruise to be among the first to step foot on Whitehaven Beach. 

You'll have the chance to admire the remote areas, bays, and islands of the Whitsundays, beginning with stunning views of Passage Peak and Pentecost Island. The highlight of the journey is a visit to Whitehaven Beach, where you'll have ample time to relax at the southern end of this pristine stretch of coastline.

Most chosen by: Travelers who want a shorter experience


  • 6-hour cruise
  • Morning or afternoon tea

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Meet at 'Cruise Whitsundays,' at the Port of Airlie on Airlie Beach
  • Starting Time: 7:15 AM, or 11:35 AM
  • Duration: approx. 6 hours
  • Type of Boat: high-speed vessel


This tour combines the ultimate Australia adventure with a 60-minute scenic flight and a Whitsunday Islands boat trip! Brace yourself for a whirlwind day of pure exhilaration as you soar above the Whitsunday Islands, the famous Heart Reef and the awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef on a thrilling fixed-wing aircrafflight. 

After enjoying a bird’s eye view, hop aboard the ocean raft and let it take you on an extraordinary journey to the pristine paradise of Whitehaven Beach and the mesmerizing Hill Inlet. This rest of the excursion includes a buffet lunch, personalized snorkeling instruction, guided walks through the Whitsunday Island national park.

Most chosen by: Thrill-seeking Adventurers


  • 60 minute reef and island scenic flight
  • Lunch
  • Tour to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet
  • Guided National Park walks
  • Inner fringing coral reef snorkeling and sunsuit/wetsuit

Tour Details

  • Departs from: Whitsunday Airport (Shute Harbour) - Airlie Beach
  • Hotel Pick-Up: Available from designated meeting points
  • Starting Time: 7:00 AM or 8:30 AM
  • Duration: approx. 8 hours
  • Type of Boat: Ocean raft

What is Whitsunday Island, Australia?

Whitsunday Island is the largest and probably most famous island of the archipelago called Whitsunday Islands. This phenomenal group of island, located around 55 kilometers (34 miles) off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is made up by a total of 74 islands. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, powder-soft white beaches, and lush rainforests, the archipelago is a major tourist destination and a tropical paradise like no other.

Thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, the magical underwater world boasts a colorful coral reefs and abundance of marine life. That’s why it’s hardly surprising that water sports such as swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving are quite popular. Other experiences include bushwalking, fishing, skydiving and scenic flights over the islands.

Whitsunday Island Tour by Boat in Airlie Beach, Australia

Is a Whitsunday Island Tour by Boat in Airlie Beach worth it?

Absolutely! Embarking on a Whitsunday Island tour by boat is a bucket-list experience you won't want to miss. Whether you're an adventure seeker or a nature lover, these tours offer something for everyone.

By joining a guided boat tour, you'll have the opportunity to discover hidden coves, pristine snorkeling spots, and secluded beaches accessible only by boat. Explore iconic destinations like Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, and the Great Barrier Reef, while knowledgeable guides and crew members share insights about the region's unique biodiversity and history.

One of the major advantages of a Whitsunday boat tour is the convenience it offers. Everything is taken care of, from transportation to a variety of activities such as bush walks and snorkeling. Of course, picking the right tour is essential for a truly memorable tropical getaway. 

 >> See our top tour recommendations for your Whitsunday Island adventure.

How to get to Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach?

Getting to the Whitsunday Islands is relatively easy, with several modes of transportation available. The primary point of access is from Airlie Beach, which is located approximately 630 kilometers (390 miles) south of Cairns. Additionally, there is an airport situated around 25 kilometers (15 miles) inland, in Proserpine.

Below, you'll find three available transportation options:

  • By ferry: Ferries operate from Airlie Beach to various islands in the Whitsundays, providing a convenient and scenic option for island hopping. The main docking point for ferries is Hamilton Island, and a ferry ride takes about 1 hour.
  • By Boat TourOne of the most popular ways to reach the Whitsunday Islands is through a boat tour. Numerous day trips and multi-day tours depart from Airlie Beach, offering the opportunity to explore the islands and their stunning surroundings.
  • By Aircraft/ Helicopter: For a quicker and more thrilling experience, flights and helicopter rides are available from Airlie Beach to the Whitsunday Islands. These provide breathtaking views and a unique perspective of the islands. While some flights may include a stop at an island, such as Hamilton, others offer a scenic flight above the islands and the Great Barrier Reef before heading back to Airlie Beach.
Whitsunday Island Tour in Airlie Beach

What to Expect from a Whitsunday Island Tour by Boat in Airlie Beach, Australia?

Joining a Whitsunday Island tour by boat in Airlie Beach promises an exciting and immersive experience. 
Here's what you can expect during your tour:

1. Departure

Typically, the tours start in the morning with a hotel pick-up or a meeting point at the Coral Sea Marina. Since the marina is split in a North and South village, be sure to go to the correct village based on your tour provider's instructions. Your guide will greet you and accompany you to the boat, which will be your vessel for the journey to the Whitsunday Islands.

2. Tour Options

diverse range of tour options awaits you, catering to the preferences of adventurous travelers, relaxed explorers, and families alike. You have the flexibility to choose between full-day tours and multi-day trips. Options range from tranquil sailing trips and glass-bottom tours to exhilarating snorkeling cruises, jet ski tours, and even helicopter flightsThis allows you to customize your Whitsunday Island experience to match your desired level of adventure.

3. Boat Types

Whitsunday Island boat tours utilize various types of vessels to cater to different preferences. You may find options ranging from traditional sailing boats to modern yachts, catamarans, or high-speed rafts. Choose the one that aligns with your desired experience.

4. Itinerary

Depending on the tour you choose, you may stop at one or more islands during, allowing you to relax on immaculate beaches, like Whitehaven Beach. You may participate in quick sightseeing trips, and activities like visit to Hill Inlet Lookout or bush walksTours normally include lunch, and many also have swimming and snorkeling stops. Through a tour, you may fully appreciate Whitsunday Islands' natural beauty and fascinating past.

Best Time for a Whitsunday Island Tour by Boat in Airlie Beach, Australia

The best time to embark on a Whitsunday Island boat tour from Airlie Beach is between June and October, when the weather is delightful with abundant sunshine and minimal rainfall, creating the perfect backdrop for island exploration. If you plan your visit between July and October, you'll have the added bonus of witnessing majestic whales in their natural habitat.

However, if your visit falls outside of these months, there's no need to worry. With an impressive 300 days of sun annually, the region offers ample opportunities to revel in its stunning beauty and exciting activities, regardless of the season.

It's important to note that the Whitsundays experience two distinct seasons. Winter, or the dry season, stretches from May to November, offering ideal conditions for outdoor adventures and discovering the islands. On the other hand, summer, or the wet season, occurs from November to May, characterized by higher humidity and occasional rainfall.

11 Essential Tips for your Whitsunday Island Tour by Boat in Airlie Beach, Australia

Embarking on a Whitsunday Island tour by boat is an exciting adventure that requires a bit of planning and preparation. To help you make the most of your experience, here are some essential tips to keep in mind: 

  1. Pack like a pro: Don't forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Bring swimwear, flip-flops or sandals, and a towel for those refreshing dips in crystal-clear waters. You might want to pack seasickness medication if you frequently get seasick. If your tour is during the winter, also make sure to bring a jacket.
  2. Plan your trip carefully: When planning your Whitsunday Island trip, keep in mind that Australia has long distances.
  3. Stay hydrated: Pack a refillable water bottle with you and fill it as needed. If lunch isn't included in your day excursion, make sure to bring some snacks as well.
  4. Protect your belongings: Keep your valuables safe and dry by storing them in a waterproof bag.
  5. Bring some cash: Have cash available for tips and onboard purchases.
  6. Communicate dietary requirements: During or shortly after the booking process, let your tour operator know if you have any special dietary requirements.
  7. Consider health conditions: Keep in mind that the tour may not be suitable for individuals with serious medical conditions, back problems, or pregnant women.
  8. Listen to the safety briefing: Pay attention to safety instructions. Your safety is a priority, and being informed will ensure a worry-free journey.
  9. Respect the environment: Respect the delicate ecosystem of the Whitsundays. Follow the instructions of your guides, avoid touching or damaging coral reefs and marine life, and leave nothing behind but your footprints in the sand.
  10. Understand the cancellation policy: Be aware of the cancellation policy in case of inclement weather.
  11. Capture the magic: Don't forget to bring a waterproof camera or GoPro to capture the awe-inspiring beauty of the Whitsundays. From vibrant coral reefs to stunning island vistas, you'll want to relive these incredible moments.

FAQ - Whitsunday Island Tour by Boat in Airlie Beach, Australia

How much does it cost to cruise the Whitsundays?

The cost of cruising the Whitsundays varies based on the tour type and included activities. On average, a full-day trip encompassing snorkeling stops, a visit to Whitehaven Beach, and a Hill Inlet Day Tour, complete with lunch, typically costs around 125 euros. If lunch is not included, full-day tours are generally priced at around 115 euros.

It's important to note that tours offering extra experiences like helicopter flights or multi-day trips will be more expensive due to the additional activities and longer duration. To discover the ideal tour that suits your preferences and budget, you can compare the inclusions and prices of different options using our comprehensive overview.

Can you get to Whitsundays by boat?

Yes, you can definitely reach the Whitsunday Islands by boat. In fact, reaching the islands by a boat tour is the most preferred and popular way. Airlie Beach serves as the main departure point for boat tours to the Whitsundays, with a wide range of tour options for exploring these stunning islands. From majestic sailing boats, luxurious yachts, and modern catamarans, there are diverse vessels available to suit different preferences and budgets. To make it easier for you, we have provided an overview of the top-rated Whitsunday Island tours by boat, along with their inclusions.

What time of year is best for boating Whitsundays?

The best time for a Whitsunday Island tour by boat in Airlie Beach, Australia is between June and October. With delightful weather, abundant sunshine, and minimal rainfall, this period offers ideal conditions for island exploration. Plus, from July to October, you can also witness majestic whales in their natural habitat. However, the Whitsundays warmly welcomes visitors year-round, with ample opportunities to enjoy its stunning beauty and exciting activities regardless of the season. >> More information.

What is the best way to explore the Whitsundays?

The best way to discover the magnificent Whitsundays is through a guided boat tour from Airlie Beach. Enjoy the flexibility to travel between islands, go on exhilarating snorkeling excursions with tropical marine life, and relax on renowned beaches like the pristine Whitehaven. What's best? Nothing needs to be planned! Brilliantly included are transportation to the islands, a delicious lunch, enthralling sightseeing tours, and stunning snorkel stops at secluded gems. >> See our Overview of the top-rated Whitsundays Island tours by boat in Airlie Beach, Australia.

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