The Whitsundays are a popular destination for those wanting to experience the beautiful Great Barrier Reef. However, there are certain facts about this beautiful part of the world that many are unaware of.
Here we break down seven lesser known facts about the area, highlighting its world ranking, popularity and reasons behind its beauty.
7. There are over 60 Deserted Islands
When people think of islands in The Whitsundays the first that come to mind are most likely Hamilton Island and Daydream Island. These are just two of the islands in this vast collection in North Queensland.
There is a total of 74 islands in the area, however, only 8 of them are inhabited. Daydream, Hayman, Hook, South Molle, Whitsunday, Hamilton, Long and Lindeman island are the only occupied islands on this part of the reef.
These islands house a collection of luxurious resorts and restaurants with tour companies visiting them on almost a daily basis. The remaining 66 islands are completely deserted and have remained so for many years.
6. It is Australia’s largest cluster of offshore islands
As you might have guessed, 74 is a large figure. This cluster of islands lying off the coast of the tourist hub, Airlie Beach, is, in fact, the largest group of offshore islands in the whole country.
This puts the rest of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and fringing reefs around coastal area to shame. Though they are also comprised of many islands and reefs, the Whitsundays still takes the cake.
Public tour companies tend to visit only the populated islands, making exploring the remaining islands without a private boat quite difficult. Some of the habitable islands you can visit in the Whitsundays by tour boat are Hamilton Island, Whitsunday Island, Daydream Island and South Molle Island.
5. There isn’t a lot of reef
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the largest coral reef system in the world, stretching 2,300 kilometres long and up to 230 kilometres wide in places, however, coral reefs make up only 6% of the marine park. The rest of the park is populated by sea grass, mangroves, sponge gardens, inter-reefal communities, sand and other habitats.
In saying this, there is still a whopping 2,900 different reefs spread across this large Marine Park. A range of different fish and coral species then populates these reefs. For example, there is approximately 1,500 fish species, 360 hard coral species, 17 sea snake species, 6 different threatened marine turtles and 30 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) to name a few.
4. Home to one of the Top 5 Beaches in the World
The pristine white silica sand of Whitehaven Beach has been classed as one of the top 5 beaches in the entire world. If you have visited or seen photos of the beach, there’s no question asked as to why it’s on that list.
The sparkling white sand intertwined with the vibrant turquoise blue water on a background of lush green bushland makes this place one of the closest things to heaven on earth.
You could spend hours lazing on the beach, walking along the 7 kilometre stretch of sand or observing the swirls of sand and water from the Hill Inlet lookout; a popular walking trail for visitors to Whitsunday Island.
The origins of this pure white sand still remain unknown, with geologists proposing several theories as to its existence. Some of these theories include it being a sunken volcano, whatever the reason, we are grateful to be able to experience its natural beauty.
For more information on the outdoor cinema experience in the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, check out their website at www.moonlightcinema.com.au for listings. Whether you go for the entire day, a couple of hours, or a quick half-hour stroll, no matter how long you spend here, you’re sure to leave in an improved mood!
3. Wedding Bells are the norm
It’s approximated that over 1,500 people choose to tie the knot in the beautiful Whitsundays each year. We believe this is because of the region’s sheer natural beauty and the various locations you can have a ceremony are endless.
You can choose to wed at one of Hamilton Island’s 10 wedding venues and then continue the party at one of their 15 reception venues. Hamilton Island notes them as being Australia’s favourite wedding destination, accommodating for wedding parties and guests as well as eloping options for the eager couple.
Other destinations include Boathaven Beach, Headland Park or the Foreshore on Airlie Beach, the beautiful and romantic Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island and Daydream Island’s aptly named Lovers Cove to name a few.
2. National Park dominates
Despite the Whitsundays being nestled in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with crystal clear waters and pristine sand, a majority of this cluster is made up of National Park. Visitors to these islands can embark on hikes following various walking trails through a handful of the islands’ national parks.
One of the most popular trails is through Hill Inlet, which leads to a breathtaking lookout over the gorgeous Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island.
1. Experience the Whitsundays all year round
The Whitsundays are in a perfect position, making weather all year round enjoyable and comfortable. The area has a tropical climate throughout the year with temperatures slightly varying between the months. Summer brings with it the famed Queensland heat with enjoyable nights – perfect for those late night swims – while winter brings with it warm days and cool evenings – requiring nothing more than a light jacket or sweater.
The Whitsundays regularly experiences around 274 days of sunshine per year, with the odd rainfall during the wet season pouring down on the region. In terms of water temperature, the water balances around 26 degrees Celsius year round – yes, even in winter!
So no need to fret, no matter what time of the year your holiday falls, the Whitsundays is always an ideal choice. Experience the beauty of this Great Barrier Reef portal for yourself by organising day trips from Airlie Beach or by setting yourself up for a few nights at one of the various islands’ comfortable resorts.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around The Whitsundays including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!