The Whitsundays are located in Central Queensland, approximately 1,000km north of Brisbane and 700km south of Cairns. Getting to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, is very easy with a variety of air, rail and road options available.
Arriving by flight
The Whitsundays are serviced by two domestic airports, Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine Airport – PPP) on the mainland, and Great Barrier Reef Airport (HTI) on Hamilton Island.
Proserpine is situated about 25kms inland from Airlie Beach with shuttles, taxis and buses meeting all flights to take you into Airlie Beach.
International access to the Whitsundays is available via connecting flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Cairns.
Airlines servicing the region are:
Qantas, Virgin Australia, Tigerair and Jetstar.
Approximate flying times:
Sydney – 2 hours 30 minutes
Brisbane – 1 hour 30 minutes
Melbourne – 3 hours
Cairns – 1 hour
Arriving by train
Queensland Rail’s ‘Sunlander’ and ‘Queenslander’ services to Proserpine depart Brisbane and Cairns several times weekly. The Great South Pacific Express also services this area. Alternatively, you can discover Queensland’s tropical beauty aboard the country’s most innovative train, the Tilt Train. The new Tilt Train services Proserpine Station, with two return services weekly between Brisbane and Cairns.
Arriving by coach
Greyhound offers regular services between major cities and Airlie Beach. Greyhound has several daily services that run northbound from Brisbane and southbound from Cairns.
Arriving by car
If you choose to drive to the Whitsundays there are some wonderful places to explore both north and south of the area.
The Bruce Highway runs from Brisbane to Cairns offering some beautiful scenery along the way. The turn off to Airlie Beach is 1 km north of Proserpine.
Approximate travel times
From Brisbane – 13 hours
From Cairns – 8 hours
From Townsville – 3 hours
From Mackay – 2 hours
From Bowen – 1 hour
From Proserpine – 30 minutes
We do require minimum numbers for each tour to run as per below:
Panorama Tour: 2 people minimum
Reef Adventure Tour: 2 people minimum
Whitehaven Beach Experience Tour: 2 people minimum
Palm Bay Day Escape: 2 people minimum
Reef and Whitehaven Scenic Flight: 4 people minimum
Panorama Express: 4 people minimum
No. Due to the limited number of seats on the seaplanes and running at full capacity year-round, Air Whitsunday cannot offer discounts.
Yes! We most certainly do allow children on all Air Whitsunday tours. Infants under the age of 2 years sit on the parents’ lap free of charge. Children 2-12 years old occupy their own seats.
To board one of Air Whitsunday’s seaplanes, there are a small number of steps to climb. The aircraft are quite small and narrow as they are designed for scenic flying, so bending down may be required to enter the aircraft. On tours where Whitehaven Beach is a stopover, there is a small step off the aircraft’s float into between knee and ankle-deep water to embark onto the beach. At the Great Barrier Reef, there are also a small number of stairs to disembark the aircraft onto the glass bottom vessel.
This can make it quite difficult for guests who are totally wheelchair dependent, however we do encourage guests to contact our office directly to discuss our most suitable tour options.
Yes, we certainly can accommodate this request. We do however advise all pregnant passengers to consult their doctor before flying.
There are a few options for you to book your Air Whitsunday Seaplanes experience – through our website using our online booking form, calling us directly on (07) 4946 9111 or through any local or non-local booking agent.
No. Due to the nature of the operation, bookings are not instantly confirmed. However, the friendly reservations staff will be in touch with you within 24 hours to confirm your tour, or if it is unavailable offer you alternative options.
Unfortunately, Air Whitsunday cannot promise specific departure times for tours as the seaplanes can only land in certain areas of the Whitsundays on certain ocean tides and wind conditions.
However, upon booking PLEASE advise staff if you are planning other activities, travelling to or from the region on the same day or have any time restrictions, so they can offer (if needed) alternative options.
Please check the ‘what to bring’ section of your travel voucher.
Getting to our terminal for mainland guests:
The airport is on the Whitsunday Transit bus route. Please visit their site for an online timetable. Alternatively, the local Whitsunday Taxi Service can collect clients from their accommodation and deliver to the airport. They are contactable on 13 10 08.
Getting to our terminal for island guests:
If guests are staying on a Whitsunday Island that Air Whitsunday Seaplanes does not operate from, then they can catch a ferry to either Shute Harbour or Port of Airlie to connect with our mainland departures. Please follow the link for current Cruise Whitsundays ferry timetable.
No. Please ensure you bring your own towel.
Australian-brand snacks and drinks are included in all tours except the Reef and Whitehaven Scenic Flight. Snacks and drinks include spring water, sparkling wine, fruit juice and cheese and crackers. Other assorted prepackaged snacks are also provided depending on which tour you are on.
No. Due to the nature of the operation, we cannot cater for special diets as we are limited with what we can offer on tours. You are however, most welcome to bring your own snacks along. Please advise staff upon booking if you wish to do this.
Yes, our friendly pilots have local bottled water available for free on tour. Please note water and catering is not available for the Reef and Whitehaven Scenic Flight.
You may bring a small backpack/bag with you.
As the aircraft are quite small, you cannot bring large baggage on board the aircraft. However, if you are travelling with baggage, please advise staff and you can leave your bags in the secure terminal during your tour.
Air Whitsunday Seaplanes provides stinger suits and/or wetsuits depending the time of the year, free of charge. A range of adult and child sizes are available.
Stinger suits – Stinger suits are provided to guests on all tours throughout the period of October to May. We do advise that all guests wear them for their own protection.
Please note, if a guest does NOT wear the provided stinger suit during stinger season, they do so at their own risk.
Wet suits – We provide complimentary wet suits on our snorkelling tours – Panorama Tour and Reef Adventure flights from June to October. These are optional to wear and are purely for warmth whilst in the water.
The Australian currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD). You do not need any spending money for tours. The only exception is the Palm Bay Day Escape which does have a store on the island and optional paid activities.
During the flight, your phone does NOT have to be on flight mode and you can use your mobile phone to take photos. However, due to the seclusion of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitehaven Beach, there is NO mobile reception available so you will NOT be able to access internet, or receive or send calls and texts.
Smoking is prohibited on all aircraft, our glass bottom facilities at the Great Barrier Reef and our terminal.
As of February 2017, smoking restrictions have been applied to make certain areas of national parks smoke-free. You may smoke at Whitehaven Beach, ensuring you are a minimum of 10 metres from any picnic table, barbecue, shelter shed, toilet or in-use campsite.
Please ensure you remove all your rubbish whilst at Whitehaven Beach.
Much of the Whitsundays’ comfortable climate can be credited to its stunning location on the Queensland coast. The Whitsundays is situated on the same latitude as Tahiti and the Fijian Islands, meaning the Whitsundays enjoys a subtropical climate with varying temperatures from month to month. The days are warm year-round and can be quite humid during the summer months but cooler in the winter months.
Cyclone season is during our wet season is which generally from January to April, however the end of December can sometimes be a little wet.
- May–September daytime temperatures are mild to warm (21–28°C) with cool nights (16–22°C)
- Water temperatures at the reef vary from 22°C in July to 27°C in January.
- October–January days are hotter (26–35°C) and more humid. Balmy nights.
- December–April is the wet season though showers may fall in any month.
- Cyclones are more likely between December and April.
- Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology
Weather calls are made on the day of the flight, when the chief pilot can assess the conditions most accurately. If the weather is deemed unsuitable or unsafe for flying then all flights will be cancelled and no charges incurred.
It takes approximately 15 minutes to fly to Whitehaven Beach.
No! You can NOT access Hill Inlet lookout on Air Whitsunday tours.
Whitehaven Beach is a 7km long pure silica sand beach. Air Whitsunday Seaplanes utilise the southern end of this beach. During your 1-1.5 hours stay (depending on your tour), you are more than welcome to go for a walk and explore this beautiful beach, HOWEVER we do encourage you not to walk too far and to stay around the southern/mid beach area.
The seaplane offers incredible aerial views of Hill Inlet during all tours that visit Whitehaven Beach.
Please do NOT attempt to walk to the Hill Inlet lookout. It is around a 3-hour hike to Hill Inlet lookout and back to the southern end of Whitehaven Beach.
No, there is no fringing reef at Whitehaven Beach, so Air Whitsunday does not offer snorkeling there. The water is crystal clear so anything under water can easily be seen without goggles.
If you cannot swim, please advise staff during check-in and your pilot. If you would like to swim, there are a number of floatation devices available for use such as life jackets, pool noodles and life rings. However, if you are not comfortable getting in the water, you are welcome to stay on the glass bottom boat and view from our coral viewing chamber below deck.
No, there are certain companies in Airlie Beach that you can hire prescription goggles from. Please ask staff upon booking for more assistance.
Yes. Air Whitsunday Seaplanes operates two glass-bottom boats at the Great Barrier Reef. The boats are permanently moored in a private snorkelling lagoon located at the southern end of Hardy Reef (Outer Reef).
Yes! Both of Air Whitsunday’s glass-bottom boats have a roof covering the top deck, as well as the coral viewing chamber below deck.
No! Air Whitsunday do not offer scuba diving on any tours. We only offer snorkelling as the private lagoon we visit is only a maximum 2-6 meters deep at low tide.
Yes! The seaplanes do NOT have a pressurised cabin in the aircraft, so this will not have an effect.
Yes, all snorkelling equipment is stored and provided at the glass-bottom boats, located at the Great Barrier Reef.
It takes approximately 30 minutes to fly to the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef (Outer Reef) is located 50 nautical miles from Airlie Beach, past the Whitsunday Islands and a further 15 minute flight over the Coral Sea. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on Earth. The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of coral.