How to get to the Whitsundays
The Whitsundays sits in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast of Australia. It is an unofficial mid-point of the State of Queensland, with Cairns just over 600 kilometres to the north and capital city Brisbane only over 1000 kilometres to the south. The central coastal location makes it easy to get to either as a stand-alone destination or as part of a broader Queensland or Australian holiday.
Two domestic airports service the Whitsundays, with commercial connections to Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne – all of which are international airports – and with private and charter flight services. Visitors can fly into the Whitsunday Coast Airport (PPP) at Proserpine and be met by shuttle buses, taxis, limousines or pick up a hire car for a 30-minute drive to the coastal town of Airlie Beach. For direct island arrival, visitors can fly into Hamilton Island Airport (HLT), also known as Great Barrier Reef Airport.
The major coastal highway, the Bruce Highway, links the coastal cities and towns in the Whitsundays. Coach operators to include the Whitsundays in road trip itineraries, with regularly scheduled services into Airlie Beach and Bowen. The road access also makes it an accessible destination for self-drive holidays.
Travellers seeking the beauty of rail travel can ride with Queensland Rail to Proserpine and take a bus transfer to Airlie Beach.
Cruising ships make regular visits to the Whitsundays, with most stopping at Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach. Visitors can then transfer by smaller vessels to surrounding islands and reefs for a day trip. Smaller vessels can stop in at Hamilton Island Marina and larger cruise ships moor off Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island and tender passengers to shore. Cruise Whitsundays ferries and other charters depart multiple times a day from Port of Airlie (Airlie Beach) and Shute Harbour to islands and the outer reef. Inter-island ferries also run.
Great Barrier Reef Travel
Travel to the Great Barrier Reef is possible by boat from the Port of Airlie (Airlie Beach) or significant island resorts. Scenic flights and helicopters are also available.