February 5th, 2024
6 minute read
The Whitsundays is a backpacker's dream destination. Located on the North Queensland coast, the Whitsundays is constantly flooded with travellers, eager to explore what this postcard-worthy place has to offer. From scuba diving with reef sharks to visiting tropical islands to bar hopping through Airlie Beach (the main hub of the Whitsundays), there are plenty of ways to stay busy during your visit. Check out the top 10 backpacker experiences our local experts recommend you do in the Whitsundays!
Book an overnight sailing trip on a backpacker yacht and sail into the horizon. Most of the tour boat companies cater directly towards the backpacker market, meaning that there are plenty of backpacker boats to go around in the Whitsundays. We recommend the Atlantic Clipper 2D2N tour, Solway Voyager’s 3D2N tour, and New Horizon’s 2D2N tour. Each boat will sail you through the Whitsunday Islands, stop at pristine snorkelling locations, visit the world-famous Whitehaven Beach, and more. The backpacker boats are social so they are perfect if you’re travelling solo and want to meet like-minded party-goers!
Scuba diving is on everyone’s bucket list and what better place to tick this one off than on the renowned Great Barrier Reef? Cruise Whitsundays' GBR tour will take you to the Hardy Reef pontoon where you can spend the day in the water. Book an introductory dive and be guided by qualified, experienced diving instructors as you explore the underwater world. Brush shoulders with vibrant-coloured corals and come face-to-face with a whirlwind of tropical marine life. Meet green sea turtles, friendly reef sharks, manta rays and more as you explore the depths of the reef. The diving instructors are there to ensure your time underwater is a safe and enjoyable experience - one to remember!
Spend a day visiting the number one waterfall in the Whitsundays, Cedar Creek Falls! Nestled within the rainforest, 30 kilometres away from Airlie Beach, is where you’ll find these magnificent falls. Cedar Creek is best visited after a heavy downpour of rain as the falls will be flowing. However, it’s still worth the drive even if they aren’t flowing as there’s a deep lagoon you can swim in year-round! If you don’t have your own car, the Whitsundays Creek to Cape Day Tour is a great option. You’ll not only be chauffeured to the falls, but you’ll have the opportunity to explore other parts of the Whitsundays you likely wouldn’t see otherwise.
Now this one is a dream come true. Hamilton Island is the most popular island in the Whitsundays as it offers an abundance of activities to do and is rich in beauty! Book Cruise Whitsundays’ Hamilton Island Freestyle tour and catch the ferry over from Airlie Beach. Spend the day living it up in tropical bliss. Hike around the island, lap up the sunshine on the beach, sip cocktails at the many bars on the island, take a dip in the resort pool (which everyone has access to) and take advantage of the swim-up bar, hire paddle boards and play in the ocean, and have lunch at the tavern or island cafe (included in your ticket). Sounds like the perfect day out, right?!
If you’re a bit of a party animal, then this town is for you! Airlie Beach is full of bars, pubs and restaurants which cater towards the backpackers travelling through. You can start your night at one end of the boulevard and drink and socialise your way to the other end. Boaty's, Beaches and Magnums are the perfect venues to visit if you're a backpacker. Each of them sells cheap drinks, and has live entertainment, game nights, karaoke, and more. They're also jam-packed any night of the week!
Year-round, the Airlie Beach Lagoon is a hotspot for travellers. It’s a free swimming pool located in the heart of the town. During Stinger Season, the lagoon is one of the only places where you can cool off from the Queensland heat. Due to the weather and winds, deadly types of jellyfish are blown into the waters of the Whitsundays between late October and May, preventing people from being able to freely swim in the ocean without a head-to-toe stinger suit. Thankfully, the lagoon offers a safe space for swimming, is surrounded by palm trees and grassy areas, and is patrolled by lifeguards daily.
Grab your friends or just yourself and head to Boathaven Beach. The man-made beach is located at the south end of Airlie and is where you’ll find large groups of like-minded foreigners chatting away until the sun goes down. Grab a picnic rug, a Bluetooth speaker, some snacks and drinks from Woolworths and head on down to the beach for a cosy sunset afternoon.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then we guarantee skydiving is on your to-do list if it hasn’t been checked off already! Experience the Whitsundays from a unique perspective... by jumping out of a plane! Take in the spectacular views of the 74 islands and the Great Barrier Reef as you leap out of the sky from as high as 15,000 feet with a 60-second free-fall. Spend 5-7 minutes of canopy cruising while you make your way back to land. The experience will leave you absolutely pumped with adrenaline and thrill!
Book yourself onto Camira's Sunset Sail tour through the Whitsunday Islands. Spend two hours on a luxury 85-foot catamaran and soak in the beautiful views of the islands, township and harbour. Sit back and relax while being served food from a delicious charcuterie board, chat to your fellow companions and make the most of the time. A bonus about Camira is that beer, wine and cider are all-inclusive in your ticket costs. Don’t forget your camera for this one!
If skydiving is a bit too extreme for you, why not book yourself on a Jet Ski tour? Zoom around the islands on a guided tour and spot local marine life. Gain insight on the islands and the history of the Whitsundays while you speed through the turquoise waters. You’ll likely see green sea turtles popping their heads up, plenty of fish, and dugongs if you’re lucky. This top-rated jetski safari is run by experienced and knowledgeable guides who will ensure you have the time of your life.