The Best Guide on How to Cruise Whitsundays

Cruise Whitsundays is not just the name of one of the cruise companies here; it’s also the most popular activity in the Whitsundays.

Cruising the Whitsundays is the most popular activity here and for good reason. Not everyone has the time or money to sail and therefore must rely on the faster catamarans to whisk them to several different islands on a day trip. If snorkelling, laying on the beach or exploring the rainforests of a few of the Whitsunday Islands appeals, then it’s just a matter of finding a tour that will suit you.

Most day trips include activities such as snorkelling or boom netting, with scuba diving as an optional extra. Lunch is also provided on most cruises with fancy buffets appearing on some.

The two most popular locations for cruises to the Whitsundays is from Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island. Airlie Beach has the largest number of cruise operators largely because most visitors to the Whitsundays use Airlie Beach as their base. Most of the cruise operators that run from Shute Harbour do coach pick-ups from Airlie Beach and Cannonvale. Alternatively, you can take a public bus to Shute Harbour.


If you choose to stay at Airlie Beach and visit the Whitsunday Islands from there, then you need to know what options you have to cruise the Whitsundays. Following are some (by no means all) of the day trips on offer.




Fantasea is the largest tour operator in Airlie Beach and operator of the island ferries. They have a number of Airlie Beach cruise options so there’s a good chance there’ll be one to suit your needs.

A high-speed catamaran cruises to its Reefworld pontoon on the Great Barrier Reef, where you can snorkel, take a trip in a semisubmersible and check out the underwater viewing chamber. An overnight ‘Reefsleep’ is another option on offer. There are also several options for spending a day at one of the island resorts utilising Fantasea, as well as a Three Island Discovery Cruise that visits Long, Daydream and Hamilton islands.

For more information on their Airlie Beach cruises, see Fantasea.


Cruise Whitsundays


Cruise Whitsundays – One of the Whitsunday’s largest operators, Cruise Whitsundays operators a huge wave-piercing catamaran that speeds out to a pontoon moored at Knuckle Reef Lagoon on the Great Barrier Reef for spectacular snorkelling. There’s an underwater observatory, waterslide and children’s swimming enclosure, and operational extras such as diving and sea walking. A hefty buffet lunch is included in the price and there’s an expensive, but thrilling, option of flying in or out by helicopter.

See Cruise Whitsundays for more information on Airlie Beach cruises.


Other Cruise Operators

Mantaray Charters – This tour allows you to spend the most time on Whitehaven Beach (about three hours), followed by a visit to Mantaray Bay. The tour includes snorkelling and lunch. See Mantaray Charters for more information.

Ocean Rafting – Be whished away in a big yellow speedboat to Whitehaven Beach and Mantaray Bay, off Hook Island. See Ocean Rafting for more details.

Tropical Diving – Cruises out to Whitehaven Beach followed by snorkelling at Mantaray, Cateran or Blue Pearl Bays. See Tropical Diving for more information.

Big Fury – Departing from Abel Point Marina, this small operator with a maximum of 35 passengers speeds out to Whitehaven Beach on an open-air sports boat followed by lunch and then snorkelling at a secluded reef nearby.

Voyager 3 Island Cruise – This is a good-value day cruise that includes snorkelling at Hook Island, beachcombing and swimming at Whitehaven Beach, and checking out Daydream Island.


The best tip I can give you on how to cruise Whitsundays is to do your research well. Speak to people who have taken a cruise on the Whitsundays before and read reviews. With the many options available, it’s not hard to find a cruise that will best suits your needs. At the end of the day, cruising the Whitsundays will be some of the best memories you will take home from your holiday here.


Choose your destination

[wpgmza id=”354″]