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Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Island History

The Whitsunday Islands are found off the central coast of Queensland, north of Mackay. They were formed after the last ice-age when the sea levels rose and separated a coastal mountain range to form 74 islands – Australia’s largest offshore island chain.

Originally named the Cumberland Islands by Captain James Cook in 1770, after the Duke of Cumberland who was travelling onboard HMS Endeavour with Captain James Cook and the crew. Cook named the largest passage through the islands ‘Whitsunday’s Passage’. Drawing from Cook’s journal they thought they had sailed through the area on Whitsunday, a Christian holiday, but it was later discovered that it was actually Whit Monday.

The Islands were later divided into smaller groups and renamed the Whitsunday Group, Lindeman Group, Molle Group and more. The groups are currently all colloquially and lovingly referred to as the Whitsunday Islands.

The Whitsunday Islands are at the very heart of the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage Site.

Because of this, you will find amazing fringing reefs around the islands and an abundance of tropical and colourful marine life. To protect the underwater world in the Whitsundays, there is a 35000 km2 Marine Park stretching from Sarina in the south to Cape Upstart in the north. On top of this, the waters are a dazzling turquoise colour and are warm year-round, making for some of the most superb snorkelling in Australia.

Between June – September you can expect to see whales during their migration. The whales come here every year around this time to find warmer, sheltered waters in which to give birth to their calves. They are often spotted from our boats, playing and breeching around the islands.

Only 4 of the islands are habited, leaving the other 70 to the protected Whitsunday Islands National Park. There is a vast array of well-maintained, scenic walking trails on numerous islands, with ample places wildlife and bird watching. The National Park also covers and maintains the Ngaro Sea Trail – a blend of scenic walks and picturesque seaways. The Whitsunday Islands hold special meaning for the Ngaro indigenous tribe, and there is a rich, vibrant history to the area. You can learn more about the Whitsunday Islands National Park on the Queensland Government Parks and Forests website.

You know those times in life when you have to pinch yourself to check if you’re dreaming? Well, that live that dream-like state when you visit the Whitsunday Islands. Famous for the award winning Whitehaven Beach with its pure white sand, secluded bays, tropical marine life, fringing coral reefs and bush walks it’s no wonder the Whitsunday islands are so popular. With 74 remote islands making up the Whitsundays – you’re going to need a boat.

Step onboard one of the vessels in our fleet and let us show you the best on offer. Our crew are all friendly and experienced and know everything there is about the Islands, including the location of the popular Whitsunday icons, where to find Nemo and even some of their own hidden gems. Capture those winning Instagram shots and kodak moments and tick off your Whitsundays bucket list with us!