The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is world heritage listed and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Whitsundays area of the marine park is made up of 74 islands, most of which are uninhabited. There are two types of reef, the fringing reefs which are formed around the islands and mainland and the outer reef which is further offshore. Both are abundant with marine life and highly biodiverse. The waters of the Great Barrier Reef are visited annual by migratory species including the humpback whale which can be seen from June to September when they seek warm protected waters to give birth to their calves before heading south again for summer.
The traditional owners of the Whitsunday islands and surrounding areas are the Ngaro people, an Aboriginal seafaring tribe. Archaeology shows that the Ngaro people inhabited the Whitsunday islands at least 8000 years prior to the Europeans arriving in 1770. There is a trail through the Whitsundays Islands called The Ngaro Trail. The trail is made up of small bushwalks on different islands and visits significant cultural sites including caves with indigenous rock paintings. For more info visit:
Whitehaven Beach is 7 km long and situated on the largest island – The Whitsunday Island. The beach is famous for its crystal clear waters and perfect 98% silica white sand. The beach won the award for the top eco-friendly beach in the world in 2010. It’s also the most photographed beach in the world. Whitehaven Beach is a must-see for all travellers to the area.
Airlie Beach has a diverse range of accommodation to suit any traveller. The town boasts many restaurants, cafes and bars. Airlie Lagoon is a 140-metre x 40-metre saltwater swimming lagoon. Admission is free and features BBQs and lifeguards in the precinct seven days a week.