Whitehaven Beach Queensland: Best Visitors Guide 2024 (UPDATED)

Brilliant white sandy beach in The Whitsunday Islands, Queensland


Whitehaven Beach Visitor Guide


Table of Contents

Interested in visiting Whitehaven Beach Queensland? Well you have arrived at the right place! My post about the fantastic beach in The Whitsunday Islands will inform you of everything you should know about going there.

Check out the table of contents to see what to expect.

1. Introduction
2. About Whitehaven Beach Queensland
3. Where is Whitehaven Beach Queensland
4. Getting To Whitehaven Beach Queensland
5. Other Accolades
6. Best Time to Visit Whitehaven Beach Queensland
7. Whitehaven Beach Camping and Other Accommodation
8. Exploring Whitehaven Beach Queensland
9. Activities at Whitehaven Beach Queensland
10. Guided Tours and Cruises
11. Responsible Travel Tips
12. Final Thought
13. Whitehaven Beach FAQs

After you have finished reading this post, I hope it will have inspired you to visit this awesome white silica sand beach!

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Unlike most Queensland beaches, Whitehaven in the Whitsunday Region is made of 98% pure white silica sand.



According to TripAdvisor, Whitehaven Beach Queensland is the number one beach in the world. Or at least it was in 2021 when they awarded it that title.

The biggest of all Whitsunday Islands, it is known for its dazzling white sand that comprises 98% silica. Stretching for seven dazzling kilometres, the beach runs from Whitsunday Island’s southeastern corner all the way up to Hill Inlet at the whitehaven beach – northern end. Its soft texture is perfect for walking barefoot, even on the most scorching of days.

Located within the world Heritage Great Barrier Reef and well protected by lush national park, the beach is only accessible by boat, helicopter or seaplane , primarily from the mainland town of Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island.

You’ll have to take all your own provisions with you and practice responsible tourism. But once you are there you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing and taking in the unforgettable view of the iconic swirling sands dancing like the Bellagio fountains, from the look out at Hill Inlet.


View of a sailboat at Whitehaven Beach in Whitsunday Islands Queensland


About Whitehaven Beach Queensland

While TripAdvisor might not rate it the number one beach in the world any more, Whitehaven Beach Queensland is still one of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the world.

Unlike most Queensland beaches, Whitehaven in the Whitsunday Region is made of 98% pure white silica sand. As a result its sand has a stunning white, snowy complexion. One that is perfectly enhanced by the gorgeous turquoise water of the South Pacific Ocean.

One of the most beautiful and photographed beaches in Australia, the silica sand is more of a finer grain of sand than what you would normally find on a regular beach – which tends to be comprised of irregular bits of minerals. This gives that sand at Whitehaven a softer, almost velvet like feel which is perfect to walk on.

Silica is not known for heating well, so it is cool to walk on during even the hottest times of the Aussie summer. This makes the beach a great one to relax, sunbathe or stroll on. Believe it or not the silica also makes it a great beach to polish your jewellery on!

Don’t believe us? Just try it!

Surprisingly the surrounding rocks that frame Whitehaven Beach Queensland in the Whitsunday Islands do not contain silica. So the only explanation for the beaches appearance is that it must have been deposited on the island over millions of years’ worth of ocean tides carrying the silica grains.


Whitehaven Beach Sand Facts

  • Whitehaven Beach was voted the best beach in the world in 2021 by Tripadvisor
  • Over 75,000 people visit the beach every year
  • The incredible white sand comprises 98.9% pure silica
  • The sand does not retain heat, so is comfortable to walk on in summer
  • Whitehaven Beach resides on Ngaro Country (within Ngaro Sea Trail) who inhabited the beach 8000 years ago
  • You can find giant clams in the coral reefs at the beach
  • Where is Whitehaven Beach Queensland

    Whitehaven Beach Australia is the biggest, in terms of landmass, of the 74 Whitsunday Islands that make up the stunning archipelago within the Whitsunday Region.

    It lies approximately 34 km east from Airlie Beach on Whitsunday Island and is directly across from Chalkie’s Beach, (which is officially called Stockyard Beach), on Haslewood Island.

    The beach is the very essence of a Queensland tropical paradise – surrounded by the sapphire waters of the Coral Sea, and set within a protected marine park.

    It lies on land that is traditionally owned by the Ngaro, Juru and Gia people and was named after the port town in England.


    As well as being crowned the number one beach in the world by TripAdvisor in 2021, Whitehaven Beach Queensland has been awarded a number of other impressive accolades.


    Getting To Whitehaven Beach Queensland

    Getting to Whitehaven Beach Queensland is an adventure in itself, promising a journey as memorable as the destination.

    First, you’ll have to get to Airlie Beach, as that is the ferry departure point for many of the tours that take you to the beach. For most people, this will involve driving along the Bruce Highway and State Route 59. If you use Google Maps or the Waze app, you shouldn’t have too much trouble navigating your way there.

    Here is an idea of the driving distances involved in getting to the pleasant Whitsunday Region coastal town.

  • Mackay to Airlie Beach - 151 km
  • Townsville to Airlie Beach - 274 km
  • Rockhampton to Airlie Beach - 483 km
  • Yeppoon to Airlie Beach - 500 km
  • Gladstone to Airlie Beach - 590 km
  • Cairns to Airlie Beach - 620 km
  • Bundaberg to Airlie Beach - 770 km
  • Brisbane to Airlie Beach - 1127 km km
  • Surfer's Paradise to Airlie Beach - 1193 km
  • If you are coming from out of state destinations, you can fly into Proserpine Airport and either hire a car or get a taxi to Airlie Beach from there.

    From Airlie Beach you can get to Whitehaven Beach by boat, helicopter or seaplane.

    Travelling by boat is the most popular option. There are no public ferry services available, however, several licensed local tour companies can take you on various day trips from Airlie Beach via Hamilton Island to Whitehaven Beach.

    Typically, they leave from the Coral Sea Marina or the Port of Airlie Marina and take between one and two hours to get to Whitsunday Island.

    A handful of companies also offer helicopter or seaplane tours, which provide a unique aerial perspective of the beauty of the Whitsunday Island archipelago.


    Gorgeous day at Whitehaven Beach in Queensland, Australia


    Other Accolades

    As well as being crowned the number one beach in the world by TripAdvisor in 2021, Whitehaven Beach Queensland has been awarded a number of other impressive accolades.

    In 2008 it was awarded the title of ‘Queensland’s Cleanest Beach’ in the Keep Australia Beautiful Beach Challenge.

    Similarly, CNN.com labelled Whitehaven Beach Whitsundays the world’s number 1 Eco-Friendly Beach in July 2010.

    During their Travellers’ Choice Awards of 2017, TripAdvisor also awarded it the title of the #1 Beach in the South Pacific.


    Best Time to Visit Whitehaven Beach Queensland

    Whitehaven Beach Queensland is a destination you can go to all year round. However, when planning your visit you should bear in mind that weather conditions at certain times of the year might determine how enjoyable your experience will be.

    Generally speaking, the best time to visit Whitehaven Beach Queensland is during the spring months of September to November. At this time, the temperatures tend to be dry and very pleasant, making walking along its beautiful white silica sand a pleasurable activity.

    During the summer, the mercury can often top 30 degrees Celsius and 70% humidity, which can be quite unbearable. This means that unless you bring a cabana or beach umbrella, you won't be able to stay out in the sun for too long. However, you should enjoy cooling swims in the azure waters of the Coral Sea. Just be sure to wear plenty of sun cream.

    It is worth noting that the months of December to February coincide with the rainy season. So, there will always be the chance of a storm or heavy downpour if you go there then.

    While the mercury is at its lowest during the winter months of June to August, this is a terrific time to come to the Whitsunday Islands for whale watching in Queensland.

    Regardless of when you go to Whitehaven, you are recommended to bring a hat, swimming gear, sunscreen, a towel, lots of water and some food.


    Whitehaven Beach Camping and Other Accommodation

    Most tourists choose to stay at Airlie Beach on the mainland because there are no accommodation options at Whitehaven Beach Queensland other than camping.

    At Airlie Beach, you’ll find several hotels, resorts, and other holiday rentals that suit all budgets and tastes. You can also choose to stay at one of the luxury resorts on other islands within the Whitsundays, including the Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort, Qualia on Hamilton Island or the Daydream Island Resort.

    In terms of Whitehaven Beach accommodation, if you want to stay for a night or two at Whitehaven, you can book a spot at the National Park Campground, located at the southern end of the beach. Alternatively, you could pitch a tent at the Chance Bay campground, which is situated on an elevated section at the northern part of the section.

    You can make a reservation at either site through the Queensland National Parks website. After you’ve booked you will be emailed a camping permit which you will need to take with you (best done in a clear ziplock bag).


    Whitehaven Beach in Whitsundays is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which means you can enjoy exceptional opportunities for snorkelling and diving.


    Exploring Whitehaven Beach Queensland

    When planning your visit to Whitehaven Beach Queensland, you’ll need to work out whether will go there on a day trip or as an overnight stay.

    Both options have their pros and cons, so your choice will depend on various factors such as how much time you have available and your overall preferences. But here are some considerations for both.


    Day Trip

    If you have limited time then a day trip is a great option from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven Beach. There are several Whitsunday Islands and Whitehaven Beach tours you can go on which typically depart early in the morning and return late in the afternoon.

    While they give you several hours to enjoy the sand, swim and snorkel and explore some of the Whitsunday Island, you might not be able to spend as much time doing these activities as you would like.

    That said, visiting the famous destination via these Whitehaven Beach boat trips is convenient and requires little planning. You could also book multiple crossings over the course of a few days to enable you to spend more time there, although this would be an expensive option.


    Overnight Stay

    If you don’t mind camping you might want to stay over for a night or two on Whitehaven Beach Queensland.

    Doing this at one of the two campsites at either end of the beach will allow you to experience the tranquillity of the area without feeling like you are pressed for time.

    You’ll need to bring your own food with you, as well as other beach essentials. However, the chance to snorkel and explore more remote spots at your leisure and enjoy breathtaking sunrises and sunsets on the beach are experiences you are less likely to get during a day trip.


    Whitehaven Beach in Whitsunday Islands Qld Australia


    Activities at Whitehaven Beach Queensland

    Regardless of whether you go there on a day trip or for a few days, Whitehaven Beach Queensland offers a variety of activities to help you make the most of your visit to this fabulous island beach destination.

    They include the following:

    Walking on the White Silica Sand:

    Given that it stretches for 7 km, walking along the gorgeous white silica sand is a must do activity for anyone coming to the beach.

    You don’t have to walk the whole way, however, as this special type of sand does not retain the heat, you will be able to stroll barefoot on it for as long as you want without burning the soles of your feet, even on the hottest days.



    The sparkling turquoise waters of the Coral Sea lapping against the shores of Whitehaven Beach will no doubt entice you to go for a dip.

    Just remember, as cool as the water might feel on your skin , it won’t protect you from the sun. So, make sure you wear a rashie and put on plenty of reef-safe sunscreen to avoid getting burnt.


    Hill Inlet Lookout and Swirling Sands:

    For a full length view of Whitehaven Beach Queensland and its famous swirling sands, head to the Hill Inlet lookout.

    A short but scenic trail will lead you to an elevated viewpoint, which offers superb panoramic vistas of the swirling sands and vibrant blue waters below. Make sure you have your camera ready and prepare to be mesmerised.


    Diving and Snorkeling in the Whitsundays:

    Whitehaven Beach in Whitsundays is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which means you can enjoy exceptional opportunities for snorkelling and diving.

    Beneath the surface of the Coral Sea, you’ll discover a fabulous world of colourful coral formations and a diverse marine life in the Great Barrier Reef.

    There are several Whitehaven Beach Snorkelling tours available which will take you to the best dive spots and also provide you with equipment and guides to help you explore the magnificent underwater wonderland.


    Picnicking and BBQs:

    At Whitehaven Beach Queensland there are designated picnic areas equipped with barbecue facilities. They make the perfect setting for a beachfront meal against the stunning backdrop of the white silica sands and surrounding islands.

    If you do have a picnic or BBQ, make sure you dispose of your rubbish responsibly.


    Wildlife Encounters:

    If you are a fan of wildlife, you should keep your eyes peel at Whitehaven Beach Queensland because there is a good chance you will see dolphin, sea turtles and various species of birds.

    Observing these animals in their natural habitat is a memorable part of the Whitehaven Whitsundays experience. However, you must remember to respect their space, maintain a safe distance and never feed them human food.


    Guided Tours and Cruises

    To make the most of your time at the beach, there are several Whitehaven Beach tours you should consider booking.

    These tours take many different forms and often include expert guides, meals, and equipment.

    Here, is a full list of tours you can book from Viator to Whitehaven Beach Queensland. However, below are some popular options.

  • Snorkelling Cruise to Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven Beach
  • Ocean Rafting: Snorkelling at Whitehaven Beach & a visit to Hill Inlet Lookout
  • Whitehaven and Hill Inlet 'Chill & Grill'
  • Scenic Flight over Whitehaven, Hill Inlet, GBR and Heart Reef
  • Half Day Whitehaven Beach Cruise
  • Hamilton Island and Whitehaven Beach Cruise from Airlie Beach
  • Whitehaven Whitsundays Beach Tour: Beach, Lookouts & Snorkelling
  • 2 Night Sailing Cruise to Whitehaven & GBR
  • Scenic Flight & Cruise Package
  • Whitehaven and Heart Reef 2.5 hour helicopter flight

    Responsible Travel Tips

    As a visitor to Whitehaven Beach Queensland it is your responsibility to do your bit to preserve its pristine beauty for future generations to enjoy.

    For this reason, it is considered best practice if you do the following:

    1. When going to Whitehaven, you should pack light and only bring only what you need. Doing this is a good way to reduce litter and waste and the potential for damage it might cause within the Whitsunday Islands.

    2. Avoid bringing plastic items like water bottles or bags to Whitehaven beach. This will minimise the amount of plastic waste created, which could potentially harm the reef and marine life.

    3. When it comes to disposing of your waste you should do this only in the designated bins, or better still take all your rubbish back with you to the mainland.

    4. During your time on Whitehaven Beach, you should always use reef-safe sunscreen. Traditional sunscreens can cause damage to the coral reefs.

    5. When exploring the hinterland area behind Whitehaven Beach make sure you stay on the marked paths and trails to avoid disturbing fragile ecosystems.

    6. If you go snorkelling, avoid touching or standing on the coral. It is extremely delicate and takes years to grow.

    7. Whilst on Whitsunday Island make sure you keep your distance from wildlife at all times. You should also resist the temptation to feed them as human food can be extremely harmful to their health.


    View of the brilliant white sand at Whitehaven Beach in Queensland


    Final Thought

    It may or may not be the number one beach in the world right now, but Whitehaven Beach Queensland is a place everyone should go to once in their lifetime.

    What makes it so special is its outstanding natural beauty which will take your breath away from the moment you step on its dazzling, powdery white silica sand.

    Whether you trek up to the Hill Inlet to see the magnificent swirling sands, or do nothing more than lay down on a towel after a dip in the Coral Sea, is up to you.

    However, you should make a pledge of booking one of the many Whitehaven Beach tours that are available from Airlie Beach, next time you visit the Whitsunday Islands.


    Whitehaven Beach FAQs

    Why can’t you take sand from Whitehaven Beach?

    The white silica sand at Whitehaven Beach Whitsundays is some of the softest in the world. However, be aware that it is illegal to take sand, shells, rocks, coral or sticks from the beach as it is a strictly protected national park. Doing so can land you in serious trouble with the authorities.


    Can you swim at Whitehaven Beach?

    As the water at Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands is shallow, it is perfect for swimming all year round. Generally, there are also no swells or dangerous rips to concern yourself with and the temperature of the water is always quite nice, even in winter.


    How long should I spend on Whitehaven Beach Whitsundays?

    Most visitors tend to spend between 2 to 4 hours at the beach either on a Whitehaven Beach day trip or overnight Whitehaven Beach sailing tour. This length of time gives you plenty of opportunity to go for a swim, hike up to Hill Inlet, enjoy the views of the azure water and walk up the beach.


    Is Whitehaven Beach Camping possible?

    You can enjoy camping at Whitehaven Beach in campgrounds located at either end of the beach. The National Park Campground is situated at the southern end of the beach, while the Chance Bay Campground is at the northern end. To stay at either you will have to make a reservation via the Queensland National Parks website.


    Are there toilets at Whitehaven Beach?

    Yes, there are toilet facilities available at Whitehaven Beach Queensland in the Whitsunday Islands. They are located at the southern end of the beach near the campsite, as well as up at the Hill Inlet Lookout.


    What is the best time to go to Whitehaven Beach?

    Generally, spring is considered the best time to visit Whitehaven Beach, in particular for Ecotourism in the Whitsundays. The weather is still warm and the water conditions are excellent. If you go while school is still in term time, you'll find the beach quieter than in the summer as well.


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