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Heading to Queensland soon and looking for the best Whitsundays day trips? We’ve got you covered!

The Whitsundays are located in Queensland, near Airlie Beach. They are made up of 74 beautiful islands and home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world: Whitehaven Beach.

More than that, they also lie by the Great Barrier Reef!   When it comes to day trips in the Whitsundays, you will be spoilt for choice!

There are loads of places to see in the Whitsunday Islands and many tour companies go there every day from Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island.

Overview of the best day trips and tours in the Whitsundays

In a rush and want to jump straight to the good stuff? Here you go!

Best day trips in the Whitsundays

In this first section, you’ll discover the best places to visit in the Whitsundays in a day. These places can be accessed from both Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach.

Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet

hill inlet whitehaven beach

Whitehaven Beach is the most famous beach in Australia.

It’s made of 98% of silica which is why the sand is so soft and white!

Whitehaven Beach is a little piece of paradise. You can walk on it and go swimming (although it’s always recommended to wear a wet suit in the Whitsundays).  

Walking on the beach is not the only thing you can do at Whitehaven. If you go on the hill inlet walk, you will arrive at Hill Inlet Lookout which will reveal one of the most amazing views in Australia.

From there, you can see the sand swirling up with the turquoise blue waters. It’s such a jaw-dropping sight! It looks like a painting! That’s how beautiful it is.

Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsunday Island. There is no ferry going there which means that your only option to go on a Whitehaven day trip is booking a tour.

From Airlie Beach: From Airlie Beach, you can book the Thunder Cat day tour. You will be boarding a speed boat and go to Whitsunday Island where you will go on a walking tour with a guide, up to Hill Inlet.

You will then spend some time on Whitehaven beach before going snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef.   They also provide hotel pickups, making it super easy for you!   Click here to see the latest prices.

From Hamilton Island: You can also book a similar tour from Hamilton Island. You will leave from the marina and head to Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach.

You will be with a dedicated guide who will tell you everything you need to know about the local ecosystem. This tour also includes snorkelling at Chalkies Beach.   Click here to see the prices.

READ MORE: 10+ Best Whitehaven Beach tours from Airlie Beach for travellers in 2023

Hamilton Island

catseye beach hamilton island

Hamilton Island is the most famous island in the Whitsundays. It’s home to some of the best resorts in the archipelago!

If you are staying in Airlie Beach, going on a day trip to Hamilton Island is a must-do.  

There is plenty you can do on Hamilton island including bushwalking and discover the beautiful Catseye Beach.  

There are two ways you can get to Hamilton Island from Airlie.  

– Taking the ferry: if you want to opt for a self-guided trip, take the ferry from Airlie port to Hamilton Island. You can book a return ticket or an island hopping pass (this one will come in handy if you also want to discover the other islands). Prices here.

– Booking a day tour to Hamilton Island: you will be leaving from Port of Airlie in the morning and head to Hamilton Island. Once you get there, you will discover the most beautiful sites there! This includes seeing the koalas at the wildlife park, lunch at the Tavern and a bushwalk. Click here to see the prices.

Daydream Island

daydream island things to do

Daydream Island is one of the peaceful islands in the Whitsundays. It’s very small, making it the perfect destination for people looking for a relaxing holiday.

There are many snorkelling spots where you can see sea turtles and stingrays.

You can also go and explore the island on foot.  

Most people going to Daydream island actually stay at the resort. If you wish to go on a day trip to Daydream island, here are your options:

– Taking the ferry from Airlie or Hamilton to Daydream. You can use the island hopper pass for this. There are about 10 ferries going there every day.

– Booking a tour to Daydream island: as previously mentioned, Daydream island is very small which is why the best day tour also includes a stop at Whitehaven Beach. You will leave from the port of Airlie and explore Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach and Daydream Island. See prices here.

Great Barrier Reef

great barrier reef during scenic flight

When visiting the Whitsundays, going on Great Barrier Reef day trip is a must-do.

The GBR is an incredibly fascinating ecosystem. There is so much to know about it!

The best things to do at the Great Barrier Reef are snorkelling and diving. If you don’t have your PADI, you can also opt for a diving introduction.  

To visit the Great Barrier Reef, you can book a day tour:  

– From Airlie Beach: you will go on a cruise to the Outer Reef where you can snorkel, dive and swim. You will also get the chance to hop on a semi-submersible boat and observe the reef without getting wet! Click here to see the latest prices.

– From Hamilton Island: you can book a day tour on a catamaran and go snorkelling at the GBR. This is considered as one of the best Whitsunday snorkelling tours. Prices here.

Heart Reef

heart reef great barrier reef

The Great Barrier Reef is formed of thousands of small reefs. The most famous of them all is the heart reef!   This incredible heart-shaped coral reef is the most beautiful and romantic thing to see in Australia!

The best way to see it is by going on a scenic flight. It only lasts 60 minutes but the views are breath-taking. You can check the full review here.  

That having been said, luckily for visitors, a brand new attraction has just opened! It’s called the heart island.   From Hamilton Island, you can go on a trip to the heart island, a pontoon located right by the heart reef. You can swim and snorkel there.

This is definitely the most unique and amazing attraction in the Whitsundays but it’s also quite expensive.

Click here for more information and see the latest prices.

South Molle Island

south molle island in the whitsundays

South Molle Island is situated near Daydream island. It features beautiful bays, inlets and walking trails.  

From Bauer Bay, you can go on Sandy Bay or Mount Jeffreys walks. They are both great options if you are looking for a 2h hike.

Another popular thing to do is going on a jet ski day trip to South Molle and Daydream island. The tour leaves from Airlie Beach. See prices here.

Alternatively, you can also book a taxi boat to go to South Molle.

Haslewood Island

Haslewood Island is located right next to Whitsunday Island and Whitehaven beach. Although it is very close and easily accessible from Hamilton Island, it is very underrated.

Most visitors rush to Hamilton and Whitehaven and completely overlook Haslewood Island. This is a mistake you shouldn’t be making!

If you like to stay away from the crowds and want a bit of a different experience, make sure to visit.

You’ll find many excellent snorkelling spots. Chalkies Beach is also a must-see, one of the best beaches in the Whitsundays.

HOW TO VISIT: You won’t find many tours going there however if you are staying on Hamilton Island, you’ll be in luck as you can opt for a day tour that includes both Whitehaven Beach and Chalkies Beach. Click here to see the prices.

Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island is the biggest island in the archipelago. It’s home to Whitehaven Beach which makes it a popular destination.

However, there is much more to do there than just visiting Whitehaven.   You will even find some national park campsites!

The best thing to do on Whitsunday island is going hiking.

There are loads of hiking trails with amazing views over the island.

As previously mentioned, there is no ferry going there however you can book a taxi boat from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island.  

Henning Island

Henning Island is located between Whitsunday Island and the coast. If you are looking for an island off-the-beaten-path, this would be it!

It’s a great place to go for a day if you want to stay away from the crowds and feel a bit like you are on a private island.

No tours go there. It’s not really a tourist hot spot however you can book a taxi boat that will drop you on the beach.  

Best day tours in the Whitsundays

There are many tour companies in the Whitsundays and day tours are very popular.

As you won’t find ferries to all the islands, booking a tour is pretty much a must do here. That said, the best tours in the Whitsundays can be booked out pretty quickly so waiting until the last minute is not always ideal.

To avoid any disappointments, make sure to book in advance online.

Here is an overview of the best day tours in the Whitsundays!

Ocean Rafting day tour (Whitehaven Beach & Snorkelling)

Ocean Rafting tour Whitehaven

This is an all-time favourite when it comes to day tours in the Whitsundays.

You will be onboard a speed boat which means it’s very fast and exciting. If you’d like a cruise, this might not be the best for you but if you love a bit of an adventure, it will be good fun!

It’s also a very effecient way to see the Whitsundays in a day. You won’t be losing time on the boat and will spend more time exploring the islands.

The Ocean Rafting tour starts in Airlie Beach. You’ll be checking in at Port of Airlie and explore the island for the whole day (about 7 hours).

You’ll go Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach and two snorkelling locations near Hook and Border Island. Snorkelling equipment and guided tour are included however, you’ll have to pay for lunch separately.

It’s also worth noting that this is an eco-certified tour!

Click here to see the latest prices.

Thunder Cat Eco-Cruise (Fast catamaran)

This is another popular day tour from Airlie Beach. The Thunder cat is a custom-built catamaran which is ideal for people who are debating between a speedboat and a cruise. You’ll get the best of both worlds!

The tour starts in Airlie Beach and lasts for 8 hours.

Unlike the previous one, this tour includes a bit more things including hotel pickup, lunch and snacks. For this reason, it’s excellent value for money.

In terms of activities, you’ll be doing something similar and go a guided bush walk to Hill Inlet, swim at Whitehaven Beach and go snorkelling at Hook Island.

Snorkelling equipment and wet suits are also included so that’s not something you need to think about.

Click here to see the latest prices.

Camira Sailing Day tour

This tour is perfect for people who like to relax, take things easy and enjoy cruising.

The Camira is a catamaran which means the experience is a bit slower and more relaxed than with the Ocean Rafting or Thunder Cat.

It’s also better for foodies and people who like experiences a bit more luxurious.

You will be visiting Hill Inlet and Whitehaven beach, just like with the other two, but will also get a gourmet lunch with beer and wine. It is an award-winning restaurant from Airlie Beach that caters for this tour.

Unlike the previous two, you won’t get to snorkel with this one but the experience is just as good. More relaxed and chilled.

Click here to see the latest prices.

Whitehaven & Daydream Island cruise

If you’d like to see more of the islands during your Whitsundays day trip and are not too fussed about snorkelling, you should consider booking this tour to both Whitehaven Beach and Daydream Island.

It includes your transfers by boat as well as a two-course lunch on Daydream Island.

This tour is suitable for many people as you’ll start with Whitehaven Beach, will get lunch on Daydream Island and then in the afternoon you are free to do what you want on the island. This means you can stay at the resort and enjoy the pool while looking at the beautiful views or you can explore the island walking.

Click here to see the latest prices.

Whitehaven and Chalkies Sail & Snorkel Tour from Hamilton Island

If you are staying on Hamilton Island, there is no point in going to Airlie to go on a cruise. You can opt for one of the day tours from Hamilton directly.

This cruise includes Whitehaven and Chalkies beaches. Chalkies is located on Haslewood Island which is a bit of hidden gem. Most people don’t visit which is why it’s such a great snorkelling spot.

The beach is beautiful and the water so blue! It’s also a great choice if you like to stay away from the crowds.

Click here to see the latest prices.

There are so many Whitsundays day trips you can take! Some places are more accessible than others but no matter what, you can be sure you will have an amazing time!

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