“The best beach in Australia” is quite a claim in a country famed for its beautiful beaches but Whitehaven Beach is no ordinary patch of sand. The bright white beach in northern Queensland is one of nature’s most beautiful accidents, more than a million years in the making.
Whitehaven Beach is on Whitsunday Island, a treasured national park and the biggest island in the Whitsundays archipelago, a cluster of 74 beautiful islands in the Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays was my first stop during my trip through Queensland’s tropics with my best friend, Chloe. I don’t think my jaw has dropped so frequently in my life as it did during this trip – check out my itinerary for one week in Queensland and budget for one week in Queensland for details.
We stayed in Airlie Beach and visited Whitehaven on a day trip with Cruise Whitsundays. After spending the morning splashing around on Catseye Beach on nearby Hamilton Island, we were ready to relax when we reached Whitehaven.
Why is Whitehaven Beach so beautiful?
Whitehaven Beach is truly a freak of nature. Over millions of years, unusual tidal patterns made waves crash the white silica rock into the island, creating a beach made of pure, soft silica sand. Silica is not a local rock, which makes Whitehaven so unusual amongst the other beaches in the Whitsundays. We didn’t have to do the hot potato dance across the beach for a change because silica sand stays cool, even in the blazing Queensland sunshine.
Visiting Whitehaven Beach with Cruise Whitsundays
There’s no development on Whitsunday Island, so instead of disembarking at a pier we jumped out of the boat clear, knee-deep water and waded onto the beach.
Whitehaven Beach is more than nine kilometres long, so there was plenty of room for everyone on board to spread out and claim their own temporary Whitehaven territory. Chloe and I walked a fair way up the beach, until other passengers were out of sight and out of earshot. It felt like we were the only people on the island.
Looking at the ocean, I could see a thousand shades of blue and green. Mint green waves lapped the shore. A little farther out, the water was turquoise and aquamarine. As it got deeper, ribbons of teal and royal blue formed on the horizon. It’s the kind of extreme beauty that sends other tourism boards running to Photoshop.
We were visiting in November, which is the start of “stinger season” in tropical Queensland. No jellyfish sting is pleasant, but in northern Queensland a sting can be life-threatening, if you tangle with a Irukandji jellyfish. Although they usually stick to waters around the mainland, Whitehaven is not that far out at sea, so there is still a risk of being stung. Cruise Whitsundays offered stinger suits for free, but we decided to relax on the beach instead. We’d be back on the Great Barrier Reef in a few days time, much farther north on Green Island.
I was really excited to walk up to Hill Inlet for the other-worldly views of the turquoise water swirling around the soft white sands, so I was pretty disappointed when the Cruise Whitsundays crew informed us that we weren’t permitted off the beach during this excursion. I’m not sure if this is an environmental measure, as Whitehaven is a national park and there might be limits on how many visitors can explore the hinterland each day. It might have been a timing issue instead, because walks to Hill Inlet only seemed to be featured on full day tours. The views from Hill Inlet look spectacular, so returning to Whitehaven for a full day is definitely something I’d return for.
Have you been to the Whitsundays? What is the most amazing beach you’ve visited?