Sailing in the Whitsundays

Whitsundays is that part of Australia that just never disappoints its visitors. It literally has an amazing weather all-year round with different seasons that play along well with what different holiday-makers are looking for.

Several beautiful white sandy beaches, tiny secluded coves, and deep seaways lie across the 74-island Whitsunday, which makes the sailing experience here like no other. The warm turquoise waters, the abundant marine life and the beautiful scenery around also add to the thrill of sailing in this region.

But if you would want to make your holiday more memorable and devoid of any regrets, you need to know the best time to sail in the Whitsundays. And here some of the important things to note before visiting these amazing islands:

General Weather

The Whitsundays are located in the tropics, where there’s a good balance between wet and dry seasons throughout the year. Summer, which typically runs from December to March, features hot and wet climate. You can expect very high temperatures (both on land and at sea) at this time.

Winter season starts in June and ends in August and usually features a much drier weather with maximum temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius.

September is the beginning of spring, whose tail end in November. This season comes with moderate temperatures (maximum 26C) and features sunny and low-humid days.

So regardless of the kind of sailing holiday you are looking for, you can always find it in Whitsundays. However, perfect timing is important because the weather changes very fast in between months.

Whether in the Whitsundays


May and June

May marks the end of autumn (which typically begins in April) and the beginning of winter. Temperatures may range between lows of 21C and highs of 26C. As you move towards June, the weather becomes cooler with the average minimum temperatures being 18C while the maximum hover around 24C. The waters might be a bit chilly at this time.

Pros

  • The day temperatures at this time are great for sunbathing, swimming and other watersports
  • These months usher in the dry season, which makes sailing quite interesting
  • Crowds begin to disappear at this time, making it easier for sailors to move around

Cons

  • Evenings are quite chilly
  • Occasional bad weather can sometimes spoil the fun

July and August

The average minimum temperature in July is 18C while the maximum temperature is 23C. In August, the average daily temperatures hover around 22C with the water temperatures being at 25C.

The two months fall under the official whale season, which begins in mid-June. It is at this time where humpback whales, minke whales, and pilot whales migrate to the Whitsundays to give birth and enjoy the shelter of the islands.

Pros

  • The waters are calmer in between these two months, making it ideal for sailing
  • It’s a perfect time to spot whales while sailing
  • Skies remain clear most of the days, which means no umbrellas or jackets when sailing
  • Average temperatures are still great for swimming and snorkeling

Cons

  • Many destinations in Whitsunday may be crowded since it is whale season
  • Nights are very cold, which means you have to carry loads of sweaters

September and October

Sunny days and low rainfall typify September (early spring) with maximum temperatures being 26C. Humidity is also low at this time and the waters are still warm enough for swimming and snorkeling.

This weather persists till mid-October. Spring is one of the best times in the Whitsundays to enjoy a bareboat yacht charter. The numerous tides, beautiful full-moon nights and clear skies that typify this season make sailing as beautiful as it is exciting.

Pros

  • The minimal rainfall and low humidity make the season perfect for sailing
  • September doesn’t coincide with school holidays, which makes the islands less crowded

Cons

  • Temperatures begin to soar, something that can be uncomfortable for sailors

November to April

The period between December and April is one of the busiest and hottest in the Whitsundays. Many tourists flock to the area at this time to enjoy the sun and humid heat.

The season is also typified by monsoons and heavy rains but people still love to spend time in the islands. Maximum temperatures can hit 31C while the lowest temperature that can be experienced at this time is 23C.

Pros

  • Many people are cruising through the island, which can be an exciting affair if you love crowds
  • Boat tours still run at this time and tour operators continue to entertain their guests on the islands
  • It’s the best time to go snorkeling deep into the waters as sea temperatures are perfectly warm

Cons

  • The temperatures are at their all-time high, which is a recipe for sunburns
  • The crowds are too many, which can be limiting for those looking for privacy
  • Chartering a boat can be expensive at this time as demand is very high

When Is The Stinger Season?

In the northern Queensland coast, the Stinger Season’ officially begins in October and runs through May. The season is characterized by the presence of box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri and Irukandji), which deliver a painful and sometimes potentially fatal sting.

Much as this is the official season for these stingers, there no many fatalities reported in the Whitsundays. However, when going swimming or snorkeling the islands, you should wear protective stinger suits to prevent the deadly jellyfish tentacles from piercing through your skin.

It is also important to pay attention to any posted signs in the beaches like Stingers’ so you are aware of the kind of waters you are about to venture into.

If swimming and snorkeling isn’t really your thing, you can always feel free to lounge on the boat decks, do some fishing, shop around the island towns or explore the island bushlands.

The good thing about the Whitsundays is that you can enjoy a great sailing experience at any time of the year including the stinger season.

Stinger season in the Whitsundays


Peak And Off-Peak Periods For Chartering

The peak chartering season in Whitsundays, just like many other holiday destinations, is witnessed during the holiday break.

The Christmas/New Year period, which typically runs from 21st December to 10th January, records the highest number of charters. Most yacht charters are usually fully booked at this time.

August Hamilton Island Race Week (starts from around 19th to 29th August every year) also attracts many boaters to the Whitsunday islands, which also results in total vessel bookings.

Easter-from Good Friday to Easter Tuesday- and the June Outrigger Cup, though short, attract massive boating activities that get people scrambling to charter boats.

Off-peak seasons include May to June, 16th July to 17th August and Mid October through December 20th. This is when schools are open, no major activities are taking places within the Whitsundays and the temperatures (both land and sea) are not that appealing.


So…When Is The Best Time To Sail in the Whitsundays?

Any time of the year is really a good time to visit the Whitsundays, but it all depends on what you are looking for. If you would like to sail in sunny and wetter days, the January to March can be an ideal time.

The period between April and June usually features cool weather and less crowded beaches (because school holidays are over) so it’s perfect time for families, couples, honeymooners, and backpackers to sail the Whitsundays.

The period between July and September constitutes cooler, sunny days and it is the exact time when whales are migrating to the Whitsundays. This is also the period within which events like Hamilton and Airlie Beach Race Week are happening. So if you are looking for a more thrilling sailing adventure, this is among the best times of the year to visit the islands.

If you are thrilled by warmer and longer days as well as by huge crowds, then October through December can be a great time to visit as a sailor. In fact, this is the best time to go to Whitsundays for sailing holiday with family, friends and/or partner for most people.



What to Pack

  1. If you are going sailing in Whitsundays on hot sunny days, then carrying a sunscreen, a hat and a pair of sunglasses is a must. The ultraviolet rays can be so damaging to your skin and eyes, so you should come fully armed with these accessories.

2. If you’ll be sailing in winter and are planning to go swimming or snorkeling, then a wetsuit should be on top of the list of things you need to carry. And a stinger suit can really come in handy if you’ll be getting into the water during the stinger season.

3. Winter can be chilly, especially in the evenings, so carrying a warm sweater can really do you a huge favor.

4. You might also need to carry a camera in order to document your sailing adventures and watersports activities. That way, you’ll have a chance of living with the Whitsundays memories for a lifetime.


Tips

  1. Before setting out to the Whitsundays, you may need to first understand the seasons and how each of them will impact your sailing experience. If you would like to sail the islands during the peak season, making early yacht charter booking can be great to avoid missing out on a vessel.

2. If you would want to save more on your yacht charter yet ensuring you have a great time, it is best if you choose to sail the Whitsundays during the off-peak seasons, more especially during winter and spring.

3. Always ensure you sail, swim or snorkel as a group as it is not only fun and exciting but is also great in terms of safety.

4. And to guarantee a more fun-filled and memorable holiday experience, make sure you have a list of all the things you need to carry and make a commitment to get all of them in your backpack.


In Conclusion

Whitsundays is such a great destination that any enthusiastic sailor would fall in love with. Apart from the beautiful beaches, the turquoise waters and the pleasant weather, it also has amazing people whom you can find fun to interact with.

So if you’ve been wondering where in Australia to take your sailing adventure this coming season, then the Whitsundays could just be the best place to visit.

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Did you visit the Whitsundays? If so,  you are welcome to share your experience in the comments below.

8 COMMENTS

  1. this was an awesome read. I do not know how to sail on my own but have ridden on a catamaran while in Hawaii. I love the blue waters that I could see in the video. I am not very good with metric temperatures but, from what I did see it does not get as hot as Texas in the summer so, thats a plus. Not sure how cold it gets in temp but, I do love our falls, nice warm days and chilly nights. I think I will avoid the stingers at all costs. I too would love to watch the whales.

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thank you! You don’t need to know how to sail to have a good time on the water thanks to the skipper that navigate the boat:) Hawaii is a beautiful place. Have you been to Oahu? For the stinger you can wear a stinger suit, it really helps! 

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a lovely day!

  2. This looks like a magical place to visit! There is really some useful information here regarding when to go sailing and what to look out for, thank you!
    Are all the islands busy at peak time? Or are there isolated islands that hardly anyone goes to?
    Do they get cyclones in this part of Australia? I like the sound of chartering a boat and cruising for a week or two thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi Kris,

      Indeed, it is a beautiful place to visit, a real paradise! I am glad you found the article useful! To answer your question, most islands are extremely busy during the peak season, but you can definitely find some secluded beaches and resorts to relax and escape the crowds during this time of the year. For example, the CLD Harbour, Chance Bay, Denman Islands and many others. As for the Cyclones, you’ll have greater chance to encounter one if you happen to be in the North Queensland coast in the summer months January – March. Having said that, It rarely happens and when it does, it dissipates really fast, about three days before it goes somewhere else. But don’t worry about this, boats are called back to the marina only when the winds blow at over 30 knots. Usually, winds blow at 15 to 20 knots at the maximum.
      The withsundays is a popular sailing destination and chartering there is an experience not to miss out!

      I hope it helped:) Please, don’t hesitate to contact me with any question, I’ll be more than happy to assist.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a fantastic day!

  3. Oh, wow! Great information on the Whitsundays. I have Whitehaven Beach on my bucket list (it’s one of the top ten in the world), so sailing thru the area as well would be so wonderful. I am more of a warm weather person and anything under 60 F is too cold for me! So I would probably want to go when it is nice and warm. I will put up with the crowds! Thanks for all the great information. This was exactly what I was looking for. Starting to plan my trip now and sailing is something that I have always wanted to do.

    • Hi Matt,

      I am glad the article about the Whitsundays has inspired you to sail:) Yes, I do too live in a hot country, so I know exactly what you mean when you say anything under 60 F is too cold:) If you can stand crowds and like the heat, then the best time for you would be between November to April.

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a lovely day!

  4. Such great information on when to sail in the Whitsundays! It is such a beautiful part of the world and I believe that September is the perfect time for me! I am planning a trip there next September (this November is a cruise :), so it was great to find this valuable information on the best time to travel. Can I rent a sail boat or charter one there? Do you know how expensive this will be?

    • Hi Matts,

      Thank you, I am glad you found this article useful! If September is fine for you, then perfect!
      Yes, absolutely, you can rent a boat in the Withsunday, it is in fact, a super popular spot for sailing. But if you want to charter a yacht, I would highly recommend you to book a few months in advance. This way, you are sure to have a boat ready for you when you arrive. As for the price, it will depend on the season, the type of yacht, the length and many other factors. Also, each charter companies have their own rates.
      This is something you should check with the company of your choice:). Here are some of the best charter companies so you can already have an idea.

      I hope it helped. Feel free to contact me with any question, I’ll be more than happy to assist!

      Thank you for the comment and wish you a fantastic day!

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