When you think about the iconic beaches in Australia, there’s probably one white sanded beach that stands out, Whitehaven Beach. Located in the [almost always] sunny Whitsundays, on the east coast of Queensland.
Made up of 74 islands and the mainland, the Whitsundays is most known for being host to the iconic Great Barrier Reef. This idyllic beachside, island wonderland is also perfect for newlyweds looking for an Australian honeymoon destination.
The Dancing With Her team took one for the team, flew into the Whitsundays and spent a few days soaking up the sun, exploring the very best of the area and worked out if it was an excellent place to spend a week or so on your honeymoon.
Spoiler alert, it absolutely was.
The Whitsundays is one of those places that you’ll go on a honeymoon
Excellent for: Couples who have a sense of adventure, love the outdoors and could think of nothing more relaxing than spending time soaking up the sun with a cocktail in hand.
It’s not so great
Weather & When to Travel
The DWH team spent a week in the Whitsundays in August, which aligns with the end of the Australian winter. If we’re completely honest, winter was the perfect [and we really do mean, perfect] time to explore the area. It was a little quieter and the weather was amazing. Winter runs from June through to August and you can expect sunny days, not a lot of [if any] rain and temperatures tend to be around 20°C – 25°C [68°F – 77°F].
Summer, which runs December through February can get a little warmer with most days being 30°C+ [86°F+]. Summer is also the tropical wet season which means you should expect humidity, afternoon showers and on the odd occasion, tropical cyclones.
The rest of the year sits around 25°C [68°F].
The Whitsundays is located in Australia where all couples, regardless of their diversity, are able to marry legally. Australia also has some of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the world.
While the DWH team where exploring the Whitsundays we also had the privilege to witness the beautiful wedding of the Joshua’s, two men who had been waiting patiently to tie the knot in their home country, legally. The same-sex wedding, the first legal one in the area, was the talk of the town – everyone we spoke to was just so excited that these two men were finally able to make this commitment. It made us, as an LGBTQ+ couple, feel really welcomed and safe to be public about our relationship.
As we mentioned, the Whitsundays is made up of islands, which means you’ll probably be spending a fair bit of time at the beach [although you can’t always swim, in the Summer months there can be stingers in the water, and there are crocodiles in some areas]. Getting around town is fairly accessible, but be sure to call ahead as some restaurants might have stairs & not be accessible. We came across some areas would be harder to access with different abilities, however, the businesses were working hard to rectify this [a lot of businesses during our trip in 2018 were still rebuilding after Cyclone Debbie].
We’re also about to recommend some boat tours because you’ve got to get from island to island. Some are wheelchair accessible; however, others aren’t. It would be best to call ahead and double check with the company before booking. Also, note that on the boats we got the chance to ride with, we disembarked onto sand, and you’ll need to be prepared for that with the relevant equipment.
The Whitsundays is located midway up the east coast of Queensland and it’s not really close to anything, which is perfect when you’re honeymooning! Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne have direct flights into Proserpine, which is the closest airport to the Whitsunday Coast. From other airports, you’ll need to take a connecting flight.
One thing that we want to note, the descent into the airport can be a little bumpy. We held on to our seats and the local sitting next to us let us know not to worry, it was ‘usual’.
From the airport you’ll need to transfer to your accommodation – most hotels offer this, but there are some local companies that have a door to door service – we took Whitsundays to Everywhere.
Getting around the main town of Airlie Beach is super easy, most places are easily accessed by foot [and boat].
Where to stay
Mirage Whitsundays are luxe serviced apartments right on the waterfront, with uninterrupted views of the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday Islands [sunrise, and moonrise, are both incredible!]. The apartments are enormous three bedroom suites, and you’re still in close walking proximity to the centre of town. The pool will entice you, and if you’re looking for something a little extra – get in touch with Peach and Pear Catering, they’ll deliver a boxed breakfast for you and your lover.
Peppers Airlie Beach had a beating when Cyclone Debbie flew by in 2017, but what that meant was a complete revamp for the resort. Spend time by the resort pool, enjoy cocktails in the poolside lounge [on the weekends there is often special deals] and catch the shuttle bus into town [although it’s not all that far to walk] every hour. The onsite kitchen also serves up a buffet breakfast, and if you’re anything like the DWH team, you’ll really appreciate that.
Airbnb is full of spaces that range from affordable to super luxe – they are an excellent choice if you’re honeymooning during the busier seasons. We also had the opportunity to meet with a few local hosts who were a plethora of knowledge, each so passionate about the Whitsundays region and sharing the magic with others.
What to do
Let’s preface by saying, you’ll want at least a week in this island paradise to have enough time to explore but still have time to rest and celebrate.
A day exploring Whitehaven Beach is a must and the only way to do it is with Red Cat Adventures. Honestly, this day is one that we will never forget.
It’s a whole day, and you’ll want to pack your swimwear, sunscreen, a bottle of champagne [if you want too] and a sense of adventure. You’ll head out on their legendary Thundercat boat, get to snorkel along the Great Barrier Reef and snorkel with some incredible fish and if the season is right you might be lucky enough to see a whale and their calf [we saw a couple closeby and they were incredible]. You’ll also get to spend the afternoon exploring Whitehaven Beach – which you’ll want your camera for.
Go on a helicopter joy ride and enjoy the views from the sky. We flew with GSL Aviation, cruised along the coastline, saw manta rays and whales from the air, and, wearing those headsets made us feel like we were living out our Top Gun fantasies. If helicopters aren’t your thing, you might like to look at getting a seaplane. Top tip – ask your pilot to point out the most photographed reef in the world, Heart Reef [it’s a naturally occurring heart-shaped reef of corals, and it’s beautiful!].
Hire a yacht and tick off a bucket list item – sail a boat! You don’t even need a special licence to captain a sailing boat! We’re already dreaming of just how romantic it would be, two newlyweds anchored up at a secluded anchorage, the only boat and people in sight. Hire it out for a few days, take yourselves snorkelling, fishing and swimming [and if you’re docked into a marina at night you’ll still be able to explore and bushwalk through nature].
If you’re looking for something to fill in an afternoon we would highly recommend Just Tukin’ Around. Tania and Brett took us on a progressive lunch and left us in stitches – they were hilarious. It was a whole lot of fun and a unique way to see Airlie Beach.
Where to eat & drink
Airlie Beach [the town on the mainland] is a plethora of good food, and there were vegetarian options everywhere we went. If you’re heading out for dinner, our top tip would be to book a table outside if you can, the sunset on the ocean is always so picturesque.
If you’re after fine dining, there are many options; if you’d prefer some low key, like fish and chips with cocktails, there are options. Here’s what we’d suggest:
Hemmingway’s Restaurant overlooks the beautiful Airlie Beach Marina [if you’re super lucky you might spot a super yatch] and they very recently were awarded a chefs hat. Expect to pay somewhere between AU$30-AU$40 for a main meal.
Fish D’Vine doesn’t have views of the ocean, but it’s a fish and rum bar [yes, fish and rum!]. The place is famous for its local chilli mud crab and mojitos – which sounds like honeymoon bliss to us! Expect to pay anywhere between AU$20 – AU$35 for a main meal.
Walters Lounge is a short 5-minute stroll from the centre of Arlie Beach. A main dish ranges from AU$30 – AU$45 but we’d suggest a few share plates between you. A starter of dips and biscuits [and one of the most delicious cherry cocktails we’ve ever had] was the perfect start to a long lunch. They also have packages with a local yoga studio, a relaxing massage followed by a nice lunch and cocktail? Is there any other way to celebrate your new status as newlywed?
A note for transpency:
Dancing With Her were invited to the Whitsundays by Tourism Whitsundays however, this editorial is not sponsored. All views are that of the writer.