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20°18.000'S, 148°56.000'E Chart icon.png
lat=-20.3 | lon=148.933333 | zoom=7 | y
Australia WhitsundayS.jpg
Satellite view of Whitsundays

The Whitsunday Islands are a group of islands within the Great Barrier Reef area in Queensland, Australia. They are a major tourist area and very popular with yacht charterers.

The islands are continental that is they geographically belong to the mainland and are not coral cays. They are however surrounded by corals and most of their beaches consist of finely ground coral skeletons.

The name Whitsunday is derived from Captain Cook’s Whitsunday Passage which is believed that he discovered on the day of the Pentecost also known as Whit Sunday.

The Whitsunday Islands are an almost idyllic cruising ground. There are numerous islands with lovely protected beaches and anchorages and fantastic coral reefs teaming with tropical fish. Most of the area is part of the Whitsunday Islands National Park and several restrictions are applied. There are areas where anchoring is restricted, to protect the coral, but there are usually mooring buoys which can be used for 2 hours during the day and for an overnight after 4 PM. For information refer to the indispensable 100 Magic Miles by David Colfelt.

Local Dangers

The deadly Cone Shell
Avispa marina.jpg
Box Jellyfish
Irukandji jellyfish.jpg
Irukandji Jelly Fish
Synanceia verrucosa Hennig.jpg
Drawing of a stonefish
  • The pretty but potentially cone shells found on the beach and shallow waters
  • The extremely dangerous box and Irukandji jelly fish prevelent from May to October
  • Stonefish that can be stepped upon in shallow waters

Conservation and Preservation

The Whitsundays are part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is administered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority or GBRMPA, affectionately known as "Grumpa" to the locals. There are many different conservation zones within the park which are as follows:

  • Pink or Preservation Zones, no entry is allowed without a special permit (normally only granted for research purposes).
  • Green or Marine National Park Zones, entry is allowed but no taking of fish or any other marine life is allowed. Anchoring is allowed but in high use areas use of a mooring may be necessary.
  • Orange or Scientific Research Zones, public access is not allowed.
  • Olive Green or Buffer Zones, trolling for pelagic fish is allowed but bottom fishing is not.
  • Yellow or Conservation Park Zones, anchoring and fishing is allowed under some restrictions.

All of these zones are detailed on the maps which can be downloaded from the GBRMPA web site, map 10 covers the Whitsundays area.

Most of the useful anchorages around the Whitsundays are zoned yellow or green, indicating that anchoring is allowed but fishing may or may not be allowed depending on the zone. There are pink zones surrounding a few of the bird sanctuary islands, such as Eshelby Island in the north west of the area.


Australian Hydrographic Service
Aus252 -- Australia East Coast - Queensland - Whitsunday Group
Aus253 -- Australia East Coast - Queensland - Whitsunday Passage
Aus254 -- Australia East Coast - Queensland - Plans in Whitsundays

See also Queensland.


See Queensland.

Sources for weather information:

Currents & Tides

Give weather conditions in the region or refer to another page (a country?) that covers these conditions.


List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.



Any navigation notes here. If this section does not apply remove it.

Islands in the Group

Key to symbols: |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data ||
Bedarra Island Bedarra Island /wiki/Bedarra_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Border Island Border Island /wiki/Border_Island Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Brampton Island Brampton Island /wiki/Brampton_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Daydream Island Daydream Island /wiki/Daydream_Island Harbour icon – harbour |
Dunk Island Dunk Island /wiki/Dunk_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Fitzroy Island Fitzroy Island /wiki/Fitzroy_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Green Island Green Island /wiki/Green_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Haggerstone Island Haggerstone Island /wiki/Haggerstone_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Hamilton Island Hamilton Island /wiki/Hamilton_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Hayman Island Hayman Island /wiki/Hayman_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Heron Island Heron Island /wiki/Heron_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Hook Island Hook Island /wiki/Hook_Island Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Lady Elliot Island Lady Elliot Island /wiki/Lady_Elliot_Island
Long Island (QLD) Long Island (QLD) /wiki/Long_Island_(QLD) Needs data icon – needs data |
Magnetic Island Magnetic Island /wiki/Magnetic_Island Marina icon – marina |
Orpheus Island Orpheus Island /wiki/Orpheus_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
Whitsunday Island Whitsunday Island /wiki/Whitsunday_Island Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Wilson Island Wilson Island /wiki/Wilson_Island Needs data icon – needs data |
... and many, many more

Notable Island Anchorages

Mainland Berthing


  • Airlie Beach Airlie Beach /wiki/Airlie_Beach Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
  • Shute Harbour Shute Harbour /wiki/Shute_Harbour Harbour icon – harbour |Needs data icon – needs data |

Key to symbols: |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |Needs data icon – needs data ||


Sunset in Funnel Bay

Funnel Bay

Funnel Bay/wiki/Whitsundays#Funnel_Bay
Anchorage icon Funnel Bay [[Whitsundays#Funnel Bay|Funnel Bay]] 20°15.191'S, 148°44.819'E

Funnel Bay is a pleasant anchorage conveniently located about 2.5 nM west of Abell Point Marina. Note that this bay has its name for a good reason. Winds from the SE can funnel down the valley and increase quite dramatically compared to surrounding waters. Avoid anchoring here when strong SEly winds are forecast.

Approaches to Funnel Bay are straightforward and there no dangers.

Anchor in 5 m depth at the centre of the bay. Good holding.

  • Experienced over 60 kts here while the surrounding area was getting 30 kts. Use this area with care. August 2012 --Pedro

Woodwark Bay

Woodwark Bay/wiki/Whitsundays#Woodwark_Bay
Anchorage icon Woodwark Bay [[Whitsundays#Woodwark Bay|Woodwark Bay]] 20°11.770'S, 148°39.391'E

This bay is quite sheltered from the southerlies, and being only about 8 miles from Abell Point Marina it makes a pleasant morning or afternoon practice sail before heading off to the other bays and islands of the Whitsundays.

Snorkelling is quite good and there is a pleasant beach ashore.

Anchor anywhere in the bay, in depths between about 9 and 4 metres. In light winds it might be preferable to anchor near the mouth of the bay off a nice sandy beach, but in stronger winds move further down the bay towards the resort.

There is a small private resort ashore -- Woodwark Bay.

Double Bay

Double Bay/wiki/Whitsundays#Double_Bay
Anchorage icon Double Bay [[Whitsundays#Double Bay|Double Bay]] 20°10.716'S, 148°36.075'E

This bay offers slightly more shelter than Woodwark Bay from a wider wind direction as there are islands to the north that provide some shelter. The shoreline is all national park. The bay is actually 2 bays, or one split in half by a promontory from the southern end of the bay. Be aware of Datum Rock, on the eastern edge of the bay, but it's easy to spot and well charted. Anchor anywhere in either half of the bay, depths vary between 3 and 7 metres.

Dugongs have been spotted in this bay. The snorkelling in the eastern half of the bay is reputedly very good.

Things to do Ashore

See individual islands.


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



  • David Colfelt, 100 magic miles of the Great Barrier Reef : the Whitsunday Islands, Windward Publications; 6th edition (June 1, 2000), ISBN 978-0958698917
    This book is the absolute must-have bible for cruising the Whitsunday Islands area of the Queensland coast. The book covers everything from harbours, anchorages, marine protection and national park zones, locations of courtesy moorings, dive and fishing spots, etc.
  • Obtain the latest copy of the GBRMPA zoning map number 10, covering the Whitsundays area. The map is available in most shore side locations around the Whitsundays or can be downloaded from this page.
  • There is also a booklet titled Your Guide to visiting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park in the Whitsundays also published by GBRMPA. Copies can be found shore side. I haven't found an on line copy but most of the information is available linked from this web page.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

  • Delatbabel -- I visited the Whitsundays in October 2007 and spent a couple of weeks cruising around. Well worth the trip.
  • I chartered a boat in 2011 for a week and visited some of the islands and anchorages. --Istioploos Greece Icon.png Sailboat favicon.png Travels with S/Y Thetis

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This is a usable page of the cruising guide. However, please contribute if you can to help it grow further. Click on Comments to add your personal notes on this page or to discuss its contents. Alternatively, if you feel confident to edit the page, click on the edit tab at the top and enter your changes directly.

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Names: Lighthouse, Haiqu, Istioploos, Delatbabel

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