Cruising Itinerary for Australia - The Whitsundays
Why choose the Whitsundays for a yacht charter?
Australia is a spectacular destination known for its unique wildlife on land and under the water, all surrounded by stunning natural wonders such as the Kimberleys and the Great Barrier Reef. Over 30% of the world's soft corals are within Australian waters, where humpback whales, sea turtles and dolphins roam with the currents.
Brilliant sunny days are to be expected throughout the mostly dry summer, where temperatures reach an average high of 29°C/84°F in the Whitsundays during January, and a comfortable low of 25°C/77°F. Even during the wetter winter from April to October temperatures are a tolerable 17°C/62°F to 22°C/72°F, and the sea temperature is relatively stable throughout the year around 20°C/68°F.
The Australian yacht charter grounds seem almost quiet when compared with the famous Mediterranean and Caribbean & Bahamas destinations, and because of this you'll have no issues finding secluded sandy beaches all to yourselves without having to travel to the farthest islands - just be sure to bring your sun screen to mitigate the intense sun. Snorkelling, Scuba diving and fishing are prime activities in the crystal clear waters, and surfing is a popular pastime along some of the more blustery coasts. Even while you cruise along there will be opportunities to spot dolphins and whales, and when you head ashore there will be boutiques, galleries, museums, and vineyards and hiking trails to fill your hours with satisfaction.
Day 1: Hamilton Island & Whitehaven Beach
This is the largest of the inhabited islands amongst the Whitsundays and has an airport that connects with Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney if you wish to begin your luxury yacht charter here. Spend the morning getting to know your luxury yacht, its wonderful amenities and amazing crew, then begin your week-long itinerary with a cruise to Perseverance Reef and Young Island reef to the east to snorkel and swim in crystal clear waters. In the late afternoon, head north to the fine white grains of the 7km-long Whitehaven Beach to relax on the sands and dine under a fiery sunset.
Location highlights: Perseverance Reef, Young Island Reef, Whitehaven Beach
Day 2: Neck Bay
The morning is yours to do with as you will - wake up to a hearty alfresco breakfast on the main deck aft before resting and digesting on the sun-drenched sunpads, then get more acquainted with your marvellous collection of water toys and the underwater wonders. Once the group has worn itself out, rest and dine back on board in the air conditioned interiors as your Captain cruises about an hour south to Neck Bay, a favourite snorkelling location amongst the yachting community.
Guests of all ages will be enthralled by the biodiversity on offer here, showcasing much of the region's 360 hard corals and 1,500 species of fish. Starfish of all shapes and sizes add splashes of colour to the sandy seabed while sea turtles and dolphins rest and play.
Location highlights: Shaw Island Reef, Dalwood Point, Gaibirra Island beaches
Day 3: Long Island & Cid Island
The majority of Long Island is part of a national park and the numerous trails amounting to 13 kilometres are an ideal way to wear off a big breakfast. Surround yourself in verdant bush mirrored perfectly in still waters, and keep your eyes open for Wallabies and some of Australia's other famous indigenous species, while brightly-coloured butterflies follow you along the paths.
Once you step back on board, you'll have about an hour before you arrive at your next anchorage: Cid Island. There are choice beaches on both sides, however if you settle on the western coast then you can watch the sunset from the beach or the sun loungers back on board while you savour the selection of cocktails from the bar.
Location highlights: Long Island National Park, Cid Reef, Hill Rock Reef
Day 4: Hook Island & Stonehaven Bay
From Cid Island, guests can spend the day travelling up the western coast of Whitsunday Island to reach Hook Island, notable for its two deep inlets to the south. Stonehaven Bay is a scenic anchorage close to some amazing snorkelling and Scuba diving sites, where guests can unwind on board in privacy. Hike along Nara Inlet Trail to reach the Aboriginal rock art from the Ngaro people, or take the 5 kilometre trail to the top of Whitsunday Peak and marvel at the views and the wildlife you encounter on this 2-hour round trip.
Location highlights: Nara Inlet Trail, Whitsunday Peak
Day 5: Hayman Island
Blue Pearl Bay is considered one of the best snorkelling and Scuba diving sites in the Whitsunday Islands and the local beaches can become crowded. Fortunately for your group, your Captain can bring you to where you need to be before the rest of the world awakens. Scuba diving can take place from just 3m/9.8ft down to 'depths' of just 18m/59ft, making most of the locations available to inexperienced Scuba divers.
As the sites become busy, cruise back to Hook Island or one of the smaller islands to the south for a beach-side barbeque and a laid-back day enjoying the entertainments on board your luxury yacht.
Location highlights: Blue Pearl Bay
Day 6: Bait Reef & Hardy Reef
Farther north the true adventure awaits among the outer Whitsundays reefs! Bait Reef Lagoon is a choice stop for snorkelling and low-impact water sports such as kayaking, and visitors should have their cameras ready to capture the Stepping Stones, a unique natural formation of about 20 flat-topped coral pinnacles that form a line. Manta rays, turtles and big game fish dominate the sea wall to the south and make part of a magical encounter in the clear topaz waters.
Catch your lunch at Hardy Reef where groper, trout, wrasse, trevally and snapper are among the possibilities to end up on your plate. When the tide lowers, take the tender to witness the vertical waterfalls, and consider hiring a helicopter to see the world-famous Heart Reef from above. There's no land to interrupt your views of the sunset, and you can party the night away without any other yachts in sight.
Location highlights: The Stepping Stones, Heart Reef
Day 7: Whitsunday Island & Hamilton Island
End your cruise back at the beautiful white sands of Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island and do as the mood takes you: Play on the water toys, sunbathe and savour a few more amazing cocktails all while spending quality time with family and friends.
Arrive back at the marina on Hamilton Island and say good bye to your fantastic crew as you leave for the airport with fresh memories to cherish forever.
Location highlights: Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Peak
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