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Whitehaven Beach: The Best Beach in Australia

Published 24 June 2016

Jayne Gorman

Jayne Gorman

With 74 idyllic-looking islands, the Whitsundays offer plenty of blissful-looking beaches. But one long stretch of white sand stands head and shoulders above the rest: Whitehaven Beach. Regularly referred to as Queensland’s best beach, Whitehaven is considered by some to be the best in Australia. To discover what makes it so special, I set out to see it by foot, boat and helicopter.

Hill Inlet, Whitehaven Beach

© Jayne Gorman

My first sighting of Whitehaven Beach was from the sky. After my incredible Reef Sleep experience, where I spent the night sleeping in a swag on a pontoon in the Great Barrier Reef, I was lucky enough to experience a helicopter transfer from the pontoon back to Hamilton Island.

Heart Reef

© Jayne Gorman

Soon after departing from the tiny floating helipad we flew over Heart Reef – the most photographed and well-known section of the Great Barrier Reef – circling it twice so that passengers on both sides of the helicopter could photograph it from the best angle. We continued to fly smoothly over miles and miles of intricately laced coral, the water looking even more sparkly and inviting from above than it did from down below. Then just before we reached Hamilton Island, the largest inhabited island in the Whitsundays, we came upon Whitehaven.

Whitehaven from a helicopter

© Jayne Gorman

I could spot the white sands of Whitehaven approaching before we even got close – they were dazzlingly, blindingly bright. Consisting of almost 100% pure silica, the white sands separate the lush vegetation of Whitsunday Island from the emerald green water. This stunning tricolour stretches for 7 kilometres but even more beautiful is the pattern that forms at Hill Inlet. Found at the north end of Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet is striking to see at low tide when the water retracts to reveal swirly rivers of turquoise water and white sand fingers. From above it looks like an artistic mosaic; I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Arriving at Whitehaven Beach

© Jayne Gorman

The next day I got my chance to walk on the white sand and bathe in the green waters on a half-day tour to Whitehaven with Cruise Whitsundays. My boat departed from Hamilton Marina at 8.30am and just 30 minutes later I looked up to discover we’d arrived in a holiday brochure. The boat moored up directly onto the sand and in single file we made our way onto the island.

Jayne Gorman on Whitehaven Beach

© Jayne Gorman

Once on the beach I discovered the sand is so soft it squeaks in parts and when I bent down to touch it I could hardly feel a grain of sand between my fingers; it was bit like playing in freshly sifted flour. Unlike most other beaches in Australia the sand here does not burn the soles of your feet because silica doesn’t heat up like normal sand does.

Whitehaven Beach

© Jayne Gorman

The purity of the sand also gives a crisp clarity to the gentle, reef-sheltered waters. Stepping into the ocean, a welcoming 24 degrees Celsius on the day of my visit, felt like I was taking a dip in a bath run by nature.

Whitehaven's turquoise sea

© Jayne Gorman

The half-day tour with Cruise Whitsundays gave us a full 2 hours to pose and play in the sand and soak in the clear waters.  The boat didn’t stay on shore but members of crew stayed on the beach with us and had some supplies like cold water, wet suits and beach games with them. As the island is a national park there are no facilities like toilets or restaurants on shore but there is everything you could need available on the boat. When we came back onboard after our 2 hours, I was delighted to find fluffy muffins and freshly-brewed tea and coffee waiting for us.

Sailing the Whitsundays

© Jayne Gorman

The boat then took us for a scenic sail, circling Whitsunday Island and threading its way past Hook Island, offering us more glimpses of the beautiful Whitsundays as we made our way back to Hamilton Island.

Beach from above

© Jayne Gorman

We arrived back just before lunch and I looked back at my pictures of Whitehaven from the air, sand and water. I cannot deny how stunning the pure white sand and warm turquoise waters are at Whitehaven. In fact, I can hardly believe it.


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