The Whitsunday Islands, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, has hundreds of boats available for bareboat (hire and drive) charter. There are yachts (budget and deluxe), cruisers and power vessels, catamarans and home cruisers (houseboats) available.

For a completely carefree holiday, you can join one of the many Skippered Cruises for 3 to 5 days or hire a boat with a guide so you can enjoy yourselves.

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The Whitsunday Islands is the most popular destination in Australia for chartering a boat. Located 1,100kms (680 miles) north of Brisbane, and 1,000kms (620 miles) south of Cairns, these 74 islands are protected in between the Great Barrier Reef and the mainland.


Forming the largest offshore island chain on Australia’s East Coast, they offer great deep water sailing with their steep hills protecting secluded bays.

As part of the fringing Reef, you can enjoy some of the best diving in the world, cruise to some of the best beaches in the world and enjoy the luxury ashore at any of the exclusive island resorts.

You can join any cruises or bareboats (skipper yourself) from either Abel Point Marina in Airlie Beach (right), Shute Harbour or Hamilton Island.  Most of the operators are based in Abel Point, and will charge a delivery fee for Hamilton Island departures. Closest airports are Proserpine/Whitsunday (20 minutes from Airlie Beach), or Hamilton Island, both serviced by Qantas, Jet Star & Virgin Blue.  Virgin Blue & Jet Star are flying into Mackay (2 hours drive from Airlie Beach) daily, and these are met by coach for transfer to Airlie Beach ($39).



As part of the fringing Reef, you can enjoy some of the best diving in the world, cruise to some of the best beaches in the world and enjoy the luxury ashore at any of the exclusive island resorts.

The minimum hire is generally 5 nights, with this extended by some operators to 7 during high season. We have a limited number of vessels available for 3 nights, within 30 days of departure.

Low Season: mid/end January to end of March
Mid Season: April to end August end October to mid December
High Season: mid December to mid January September to October

To skipper yourself in the Whitsunday’s, you do not require a license but we do require you to have a reasonable level of sailing/motor boat experience. When being briefed, the operator will go into great detail of the area and take you out for a sail test – this all takes between 2 & 3 hours. If you, or the operator, feel that you need more confidence, a skipper can show you the ropes for the first 24 hours



The boats are fully equipped and in most cases include a vast range of accessories to make your cruise more enjoyable. For the majority all you will need are clothes and personal effects and food (and this can be arranged as well).

A typical boat will include: linen, crockery, cutlery, cooking gear, barbecue, fridge/freezes, wet weather jackets, radio/cassette/CD, dinghy & outboard, bimini/boom tent, charts, cruising guide & tide tables, safety gear and snorkel gear.



Please note: Seasons may vary slightly between the different operators, please apply for exact dates and quotes.
Where there are 4 seasons, the period August to December are high, with the September & Oct x-high.

.: Average Monthly Temperatures (in Celsius) :.

MAX 30.5 30.2 29.6 28.1 26.0 23.4 23.1 24.3 25.9 27.5 29.5 30.4
MIN 24.8 24.9 24.1 22.7 20.4 17.1 16.6 17.4 19.2 21.3 23.4 24.5
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You can either have the catering onboard your yacht expertly provided for you from roughly $30 per person per day, or you are welcome to shop for yourself. There is a good size shopping centre close to Abel Point Marina with a large supermarket, and a butcher that vacuum packs your meat while you shop!

There are many boats available in the Whitsunday area that are larger and include skipper, crew and cook. Available as a per person/berth arrangement for scheduled departures 2 to 5 days, or you may hire the complete boat (usually minimum 7 day, please apply) and enjoy complete relaxation.


Please apply to Sail Australia with your requirements.


There are many standards of accommodation in Airlie Beach or surrounding islands, from backpacker hostels to 5 star resorts. Sail Australia can help with accommodation prior or after your charter, just take a look at our Accommodation Page for more information.


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Walk a very easy walk to the top of Mt Jeffreys on South Molle Island
Picnic at Whitehaven Beach
An introductory scuba dive