74 islands of various sizes make up the Whitsunday Islands of Australia. Located just off the central coast of Queensland, the islands stretch from Bowen to 900 km beyond Brisbane. The Whitsunday Islands are part of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system. There is no definite record for where the name ‘Whitsunday’ came from. The widely accepted account is of Captain James Cook, who was the first European to make his way to Australia in 1770. He named the area Whitsunday, after ‘Whit Sunday’, the seventh Sunday after Easter, the day he first saw the islands.
Overview of Whitsunday Island
The Whitsunday Islands were originally used for logging purposes. Logging was the main source of income for the people living here. Over the years, the popularity of the Great Barrier Reef has attracted people from across the world towards this region. The infrastructure has been developed to provide for the needs of tourists coming in every year. As of now, the Whitsunday Islands are one of the most popular Australian destinations for tourists. Around half a million people make their way to this region annually.
Major Whitsunday Islands
There are 74 islands part of the Whitsunday group. Other islands in the area are grouped under different names. There are several major islands which are the best holiday spots.
The Hamilton Island is the best developed among the Whitsunday group. It has an attractive real estate market, as well as having its own airport.
Dent Island lies near Hamilton Island and shares the same owner. Currently, a world-class golf course is being built on Dent Island.
The biggest island in the group, the Whitsunday Island is among the most beautiful of the 74. The famous Whitehaven beach, a 4.5 km stretch of white sand and blue water, is located on Whitsunday Island.
Named so because it resembled the shape of a hook, it was later deduced that the map’s drawing was incorrect. However, the name stuck and it is still called the Hook Island. It is the second largest island.
Other smaller islands
There are a number of small and remote islands which have one or two resorts at the most. Some of them are
- Hayman Island
- Long Island
- Daydream Island
- Lindeman Island
Notable Whitsunday Events
There are a couple of notable sporting events that are held in the Whitsunday Islands annually.
Hamilton Island Race Week
The Hamilton Island Race Week has been held since the 80s, when it was started by Keith Williams. The Race Week has seen small 30-foot boats to yachts worth billions of dollars taking part. The race is contested annually and many yachts from over the world make their way to the Whitsunday Islands. The Race Week also incorporates live music events and the eagerly anticipated Whitehaven Beach Party, considered to be the highlight.
Outrigging involves individuals or teams trying to balance their canoes using an outrigger. The Outrigger Cup is held every year in June or July. Outrigging is basically a Hawaiian sport that had been adopted by the aborigines living here. There are various sporting events held during the competition, including a race around the Hamilton Island. The outrigging event itself features 1, 2 and 6-person teams. Even though the competition level is high, the spirit of the event is celebratory rather than aggressive.
Things to Do on Whitsunday Islands
The Whitsunday Islands receive a steady stream of tourists from across the world. This is why there are many activities that have been developed for the visitors to enjoy. In a bid to keep the islands protected, many of them have been designated as national parks. This ensures that the fervent tourism does not interfere with the beauty of the region.
Among the many activities, the beaches receive a lot of attention. The famous Whitehaven Beach is a must-see for any person who comes to the Whitsunday Islands. You will see nothing but white sand with the clear water beckoning you to jump in. The water is generally warm throughout the year. There are dozens of beaches here.
Snorkelling and diving are the most popular activities by far. The Great Barrier Reef is known as paradise for scuba divers. Snorkelling allows you to witness the different species of flora and fauna as well as fish under water. If you go to the Whitsunday Islands, make sure you don’t miss the chance to dive or snorkel. It will be the experience of a lifetime.
The Whitsunday Islands have become one of the best places to visit in Australia. If you are looking for a place with a good climate, hospitable people and plenty of beaches, then head to Whitsunday Islands for your next holiday.