FAQs – Whitsunday Sailing Questions

Answers to your Sailing Whitsunday Questions

Location / Check in

Where is Airlie Beach?
Airlie Beach is a small township north of Mackay on the central coast of Queensland, Australia.

How do I fly in to Airlie Beach?
Airlie Beach is accessible by plane from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne flying direct to Whitsunday Coast Airport (PPP). It is 37km drive from Airlie Beach. Flight operators include: Virgin Blue, Jetstar and Tigerair.

How do I get from the Whitsunday Coast Airport to Airlie Beach?
There are transfers from the airport to Airlie beach. Transfers can be pre-booked through us, so please let us know at time of booking your tour if you would like a transfer arranged. The transfer service between Whitsunday Coast Airport and Airlie Beach takes around 40 minutes. The cost is $22 one way or $36 return for adults and the shuttle will drop guests to their desired location. Alternatively, taxi transfers to Airlie Beach take around 35 minutes.

I’m flying in to Hamilton Island, how do I get to Airlie Beach?
Hamilton Island is a 35 – 50 minute ferry ride to the mainland. Please let us know at time of booking if you would like a ferry transfer arranged, and we can organise this for you. Alternatively, you can call Resort Connections on Ph: + 61 (0) 7 4946 7322 to organise your own transfer.

The Ferry price is $55 per person from Hamilton Island to the Port of Airlie Marina, Airlie Beach. From Port of Airlie it is only a short walk to Airlie Beach central and our Explore Whitsundays office. However, if you require a bus or taxi, you can talk to the friendly staff at the ferry terminal and they will be able to help you out.

Do you pick up from Hamilton Island?
We do not pick up or drop off to Hamilton Island, nor do any of our tours depart from Hamilton Island. If, however, you are booking a private charter with us, we may be able to do a pick up or drop off to Hamilton Island.

How do I drive to Airlie Beach?
From Brisbane to Airlie Beach it will take 14 hr drive time. A good idea is to stop overnight in Rockhampton. From Rockhampton to Airlie Beach takes 5 – 6 hr drive time. From Cairns to Airlie Beach takes 7 – 8 hr drive time.

Where can I store my luggage during my trip?
There are luggage storage facilities in Airlie Beach or you may be able to store your luggage at your hotel or accommodation.

What type of bags are allowed onboard the boats?
You can bring a small, soft-sided bag on board. No hard cases are allowed on board. On ALL vessels EXCEPT Whitsunday Blue and Whitsunday Bliss, you are required to bring a bag without zips: a zipless bag. Many shops on the main street of Airlie Beach sell cheap bags that are appropriate, such as dry bags, tote bags or food shopping bags. They are the perfect size for trips to the Whitsundays and dry bags have the added bonus of keeping all your belongings dry.

What is a zipless bag?
A bag without any zips/zippers.

Zipless Bags - Example


Why can’t I bring a bag with zips onboard?
Bed bugs used to be a common problem on the east coast of Australia, especially amongst travellers using hostels and budget accommodation. Often, bed bugs would transfer from the beds and linen to the zips on people’s backpacks/luggage. These would then be brought onto our boats. This is not a problem on our vessels any more. In addition, zippers scratch the wood surfaces of the boats. Therefore, to minimise the risk, we ask that you don’t use a bag with a zip.

Is there parking available for whilst I’m out on my boat trip?
There is a public car park in Coral Sea Marina | Resort (formerly Abell Point Marina). You can stay for any period but parking fees are payable at your own cost.

Where do I meet the boat?
All of our vessels depart from Coral Sea Marina | Resort (formerly Abell Point Marina). The marina is split into two villages – North and South. Please check your specific boat page for the exact departure point. In the south village there is an area of umbrellas with green turf and benches, which is the meeting point

Whitsundays and its Climate

What are the different seasons in the Whitsundays?
The Whitsundays gets around 300 days of sun a year. That being said there are two distinct seasons – winter (or dry season) and summer (or wet season). Winter is from May through to November and summer is between November through to May.

When is the best time of year to visit the Whitsundays?
From June to November are the best times to visit as the climate is at its best. Between July to October you will also have the opportunity to see whales.

What would you recommend for the best snorkelling in the Whitsunday Islands?
There are many secluded bays in the Whitsundays all with something different to offer. Your skipper will determine the best bays to go snorkelling in for each trip, by taking into consideration the weather, wind, time and tide. This way, you will always be taken to the best spots available.

What days do you go to Whitehaven?
Between all the vessels in our fleet, we will have at least one boat visiting Whitehaven Beach every day of the year. We have day trips and overnight trips, all of which will visit Whitehaven Beach at some point during the trip. So, you can decide what kind of trip best suits you, and go from there.

Swimming and Snorkelling

Do we need to bring snorkel equipment, or is it provided onboard?
We provide a mask, snorkel and stinger suit for every person on the trip included in the price. We do not provide fins. We do provide life jackets, and other flotation devices on request if needed.

Why don’t you provide fins?
All our tours are eco-certified, and for us to keep in line with the regulations set out by this certification, we do everything we can to limit the amount of damage to the coral. We found, through years of experience, that giving people fins drastically increased the damage occurring to the coral.

Can I bring my own fins?
We strongly advise that you do not bring fins on your trip, unless you have permission from the skipper of your trip prior to departing.

What is a stinger suit and why do we need them?
A stinger suit is a thin wetsuit appropriate for the warmer water here in the Whitsundays. They are designed to help protect you against stingers and from the sun while you snorkel.

Do you provide stinger suits on all boats?
Stinger suits are provided on all of our boats, however if you have your own wetsuit you would like to bring, you are more than welcome.

What is a stinger?
A stinger is a general term used to describe anything in the water that may cause a sting in some way. From sea lice to jelly fish, we do get them in the Whitsundays, as with everywhere in the World. So, for your protection and safety we ask that you wear a stinger suit when in the water.

Can we still go in the water in November? I was told that it’s jellyfish/stinger season?
You can swim in the Whitsundays all year round. There is no defined ‘jellyfish season’ however, you are at higher risk of being stung when the water is warmer. This is why, year-round, we ask that you wear a stinger suit.

Is there snorkelling at Whitehaven Beach?
There is no coral at Whitehaven Beach, the waters are extremely clear, meaning from above you can see any fish and underwater life very easily without a mask. You are more than welcome to bring a mask to the beach with you anyway if you would like.

Do I have to get in the water to snorkel/swim?
This is your holiday, and we want to show you the very best that’s on offer in the Whitsundays. However, you are under no obligation to get in the water if you do not want to.

Do you have any trips that offer scuba diving?
We currently are not offering scuba diving as part of any of our regular chartered trips. If, however, you have booked a private charter, there may be options to add scuba diving on to your trip. Please contact your co-ordinator for more information.

Do you travel to the outer Great Barrier Reef?
We currently do not have any trips that go to the outer Great Barrier Reef.


What to Pack - Explore Whitsundays

What should I pack for my trip?
In a cabin baggage size bag bring; enough clothes for the duration of your trip, swimwear, a towel, light footwear such as flip-flips/thongs or slides, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and camera.

Do I need to bring a shower/bath towel?
Depending on your vessel and trip, you may or may not be provided with a bath towel. Please check on your specific boat’s page.

Are beach towels provided for the time on the beach?
No, you will need to bring a beach towel.

What shoes shall I wear?
We suggest to bring light footwear, such as sandals, thongs/flip-flops or slides.


Is there a kitchen for us to use and fridges to store food?
There is a galley and a fridge onboard of all our boats carrying out overnight trips. All meals and snacks are provided during overnight trips and are freshly prepared on board by the crew. We will also cater for all dietary requirements. We ask that you do not bring any foods that require being stored in the fridge or that you will have to cook in the kitchen as this will not leave enough room for the crew to carry out their jobs.
One exception to this is if your personal medical supplies need to be kept in a fridge.

Do you cook the food?
Yes – all meals and snacks will be freshly prepared for you on board by your crew members.

What dietary options do you offer?
Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Vegan, Gluten free, Lactose Free, and we can cater to most allergies.

Boats with a BYO Policy

How much alcohol do people normally bring with them?
This depends on the individual. We advise bringing however much you would normally drink for a social event, per how many days/nights you are on the boat. Please be advised – you do not have to bring alcohol at all if you do not wish to.

Are there other options to purchase alcohol onboard?
On BYO vessels, once you have boarded the boat there will be no other options to buy alcoholic drinks. There are usually options for purchasing soft drinks.

What drinks are/aren’t allowed?
You are allowed to bring which ever drinks you want. On most boats, we just ask you do not bring glass or red wine on board.

Where can I purchase alcohol before my trip?
You can purchase alcohol from the Coral Sea Cellars Bottle Shop located at the Coral Sea Marina | Resort (formerly the Abell Point Marina).

Boats with a Licensed Bar Onboard

If the boat I am travelling on has a bar, how do I pay for the drinks I purchase onboard?
You will be able to pay for your drinks at the end of the trip using cash or card.

Fun Sailing

What is Fun Sailing?
Fun Sailing is a term we use for our boat trips which are aimed at young and young at heart backpackers. Generally, between the ages of 18-35 years old. The boats trips we aim at this group are our Maxi Sailing Yachts.

Is there any shade on these boats or is it all exposed?
There is a permanent shade awning onboard Southern Cross. On Siska, Boomerang and British Defender there are roll-out shade awnings which the crew will put up at their discretion.

General On Board a Boat

Is there phone reception at the islands?
There is phone reception in most areas around the islands. The only place you may not get reception is on the eastern side of the islands.

Is there wifi on the boat?
No, there is no wifi on board any of our vessels.

Are there outlets to charge phones/cameras on the boats?
Yes, there are USB ports onboard for you to charge devices.

Where can leave valuables on the boat while we are swimming?
There are no lockers available on our boats, however, there are very few instances of theft on the boats. If you find anything to have gone missing, you need just talk to your skipper and he will be able to help you search.

What is a typical Itinerary?
This will depend on the length of your trip. All trips will visit Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet and go to at least one snorkelling location. For a day trip you will find an example itinerary on the Whitsunday Bullet page. For a two-day one-night trip’s example itinerary, please visit the Siska page. For a two-day two-night trip example itinerary, please visit Boomerang or Prima page.

Do we get off the boat?
Yes, you will have an opportunity to get off the boat during your visit to Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach and at least one snorkelling location.

I get seasick in rough water – what do you advise?
Bring some seasickness tablets with you and follow the instructions on the label if you would like to. Usually you have to begin the dosage before you step onto the boat. There are some great natural seasickness remedies too, such as ginger tablets and lemon and ginger tea. On top of this, make sure you sit in the fresh air on the deck of the boat you’re travelling on. Looking at the horizon can also help.

How long does it take to get to the Whitsunday Islands from Airlie Beach?
This varies a lot from boat to boat and is also dependant on the weather and tide. The fastest boat in our fleet is Whitsunday Bullet which will take around 45mins to reach the islands. The slowest boat in our fleet is Solway Lass, which will take 2 hours to get the islands.

How long does it take to get to Whitehaven Beach from Airlie Beach?
This varies a lot from boat to boat and is also dependant on the weather and tide. The fastest boat in our fleet is Whitsunday Bullet, which takes around 1.5hrs to reach Whitehaven beach. The slowest boat in our fleet is Solway Lass which will take about 4 hours to get to Whitehaven Beach.

How long is the walk to Hill inlet?
The walk from Tongue Bay to Hill Inlet usually takes around 15-20 minutes. From Hill Inlet Lookout to Whitehaven Beach takes approximately 20-25 minutes. And from Whitehaven Beach back to Tongue Bay takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

Is the Hill Inlet walk an easy walk for seniors above 65 and those with less mobility?
There is a low level of fitness required for the bush walk to Hill Inlet Lookout. It is a gentle uphill slope for most of the way to the lookout.

Cancellations / Bad Weather

If I have to cancel my trip, what is the refund policy?

You can read our full Terms and Conditions on our page here.

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