What to pack when Island Hopping in the Whitsundays | Experience Oz

What to pack for island hopping in the Whitsundays

The beautiful Whitsundays are visiting by thousands of people each year, and one of the most popular activities is island hopping.

Travelling from Airlie Beach on the mainland to Hamilton Island, Daydream Island and Whitsunday Island (Whitehaven Beach), spending a day on this popular part of the Great Barrier Reef is a definite must. The only problem is knowing what to take for a one day trip out on the water.

Here we’ll break down some of your must-take items for a day in the Whitsundays.

Sun-Safe Gear

As cliche as it is, don’t forget to slip, slop slap. The Queensland sun is harsh and unforgiving and even an hour in the sun (and water) could leave you with uncomfortable burns.

An umbrella is always a good idea. Image: Cruise Whitsundays
An umbrella is always a good idea. Image: Cruise Whitsundays

Remember to pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and sleeves. If you’re trying to get that perfect tan, don’t be fooled, because the heat, humidity and sun experienced on the Whitsundays is unlike anything visitors from the south are use to.

Food & Drink

Even though a number of tours include food and drink, it’s a good idea to bring your own. Pack a few snacks to nibble on throughout the day as the boat trips between islands can be long and tiring. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to eat while exploring the Whitsundays.

However, if you’re looking to splurge, you can purchase food from the various shops and restaurants on Hamilton and Daydream Island or one board some of the bigger cruise ships including Cruise Whitsunday’s vessel.

Don’t forget water! Throughout the day you’ll be surrounded by it, swimming it, and if you remember, drinking it. There’s nothing more satisfying than a big drink of water after an hour or so in the sun. Make sure you stay hydrated all day so you can enjoy the entire day to the max.

Swimmers

This one is a no-brainer. Of course when you’re travelling to the Whitsundays the first thing you’re going to pack is a pair of swimmers. If you’re worried about getting burnt, pack a sun shirt and shorts, and for those visiting in the warmer months (otherwise known as stinger season), you’ll want to don a stinger suit.

Swimming in stinger suits with Ocean Rafting. Image: Ocean Rafting
Swimming in stinger suits with Ocean Rafting. Image: Ocean Rafting

Most operators offer stinger suits to customers for free, however some supply them for a small hire fee. Be sure to check with your operator before departing because nothing can ruin your trip more than a jellyfish sting in this beautiful paradise.

Camera

This is one thing you don’t want to forget! Some of the moments and scenes you’ll be able to capture throughout the day will be incredible. You don’t need a big, expensive camera to take some great photos of the region (but if you do, that’s great), simple smart phone will more than suffice.

Taken on my Samsung S5
Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island. Taken on my Samsung S5

With scenes like the pristine white sands of Whitehaven Beach contrasted by the turquoise waters, or the views looking over Hamilton Island, you’ll finish the day with a camera roll full of impressive, #instaworthy shots.

Boredom Busters

Something visitors aren’t usually aware of is that it’s not all action when you’re island hopping, and as I mentioned above, the journeys to and from the islands can be quite long and tiring. I recommend bringing along a book, pack of cards, or something that will keep you entertained as there’s only so many hours you can spend looking out over the ocean.

If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll probably already have thought of this, but don’t forget to bring something for yourself! For those island hopping with an adventure tour like jet boating or ocean rafting, you won’t need a thing as the journeys around the Whitsundays are said to be one of the main highlights for the day.

Lightweight Clothing

There’s nothing worse than your clothes sticking to you after you’ve come out of the water, or your shorts rubbing and casing pain, so pack smart. With the heat you’ll experience you won’t want to wear much. Think beach dresses, singlets, and loose(ish) shorts to stay comfortable all day.

Think free flowing, light and comfortable.
Think free flowing, light and comfortable.

If you’re planning on staying in your swimmers all day just pack one thing to wear for the beginning and end of your trip if you wish. There are no rules in the Whitsundays, anything goes as long as you’re comfortable.

Shoes

Just because you’ll be in the water and on the beach most of the day, it doesn’t mean you won’t need shoes. Come midday the sand can become so unbearably hot you’ll feel as though you’re standing on hot coals.

Pack a pair of thongs (jandals for our NZ readers or flip flops for our Americans) if you’re planning to spend the day lounging on the beach, or a pair of joggers if you’re looking to explore the islands on foot and some of their walking trails.

Though some of these are quite obvious, some people are too focussed on the swimming factor to think about what else they might need. So bring more than just a bikini and swim shorts, pack appropriately and you’ll come away from the day with a camera full of photos, stomach full of food, and face full of smiles.

Though some of these are quite obvious, some people are too focussed on the swimming factor to think about what else they might need. So bring more than just a bikini and swim shorts, pack appropriately and you’ll come away from the day with a camera full of photos, stomach full of food, and face full of smiles.

See all of our available tours around the Whitsundays below to find the one that best suits you.

BROWSE WHITSUNDAYS EXPERIENCES

Brittney Deguara

Experience Oz + NZ Travel Writer

Brittney loves travelling, so it's only fitting she's one of our travel writers! A go-to contact for all things travel in Australia and New Zealand, Brittney is always planning her next adventure away from the desk. If you have any story ideas or questions contact her at brittney@experienceoz.com.au

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