Whitehaven Beach

view of Whitehaven Beach, Queensland
Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island (map) is justifiably famous for its seven kilometres of gleaming white sand. The island is one of the Whitsunday group comprising 74 islands and islets, and is a National Park like many of the others. There are no roads and no permanent residents, just a few campsites and walking trails (details on DERM site). Like most visitors, we went there on a day trip from Airlie Beach with a stop-over on Hamilton Island; it’s not the most flexible way of getting around but the cruises are well organised and do their best to minimise visitor impact on the island. Others come by small boat, as seen above from the cruise boat before we disembarked.

In the middle of winter it’s cool by our standards (a top of about 22C), even on such a gorgeous day as this but the water is nearly as warm as the air and people from colder parts of the world (i.e. nearly everywhere) were delighted to swim and sunbathe. We waded around the reef fringing the rocks at the southern end of the beach and then took the bushwalking trail up to the saddle which looks down on Whitehaven one way and Chance Bay the other.

view of Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island
Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island, from the walking track, with Lindeman Islands on the horizon

I’m always on the lookout for local wildlife, of course, and was rewarded within minutes of stepping ashore: this goanna was just under the edge of the scrub behind the beach and was obliging enough to emerge onto the sand for a shot (click on the pic for a larger version, as usual) before vanishing.

Lace Monitor, Varanus varius, on Whitehaven Beach
Lace Monitor, Varanus varius, on Whitehaven Beach

We are always more likely to over-estimate than under-estimate in such situations but I reckoned it was 2 metres long, and at least 1.5m, and therefore probably a female because males are usually smaller.

A cloud of smoke appeared on the horizon soon after we arrived and we were told that it was from a National Parks burn-off on neighbouring Haslewood Island. It is visible in the picture below but didn’t otherwise affect us.

view of southern end of Whitehaven beach
Visitors discovering fringing reef at the southern end of Whitehaven beach

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