Everything You Need To Know About Camping In The Whitsundays Islands

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Everything you need to know about camping in the Whitsundays Islands.

Curious about camping in the Whitsundays Islands? While the resorts there are incredible, there's something magical about sleeping under the stars and waking up on Whitehaven Beach before the crowds arrive. It's an experience that's truly priceless and a must-do when you visit this breathtaking natural wonder in Australia.

Accessible only by boat, the campsites in the Whitsundays offer an unparalleled adventure. Don't fret if you don't have your own boat or camping gear—services like Scamper and Whitsunday Island Taxi provide transportation to and from Airlie Beach, along with all the camping gear you'll need. Additionally, Salty Dog Sea Kayaking offers a 6-day sea kayaking expedition exploring 5 campsites and multiple bays around the area.

There are several campsites scattered across the Whitsunday Islands, but in this article, we'll focus on camping on Whitsunday and Hook Island. While some sites offer multiple activities, generally speaking, Whitsunday Island is known for its beautiful silica beaches and incredible hikes, while Hook Island offers spectacular snorkeling and rocky shorelines backing onto rainforest.

Keep in mind that these campsites are extremely remote and lack drinking water or supply stores. Make sure you're well-prepared with everything you need before embarking on your journey. For those planning their own boating adventure or adding kayaking to their journey, it's crucial to check the weather, tides, and currents in the area you'll be traveling through.

Remember, camping permits are required, and you can easily obtain them through the Parks website. Happy camping!

Camping on Whitsunday Island


Whitehaven Beach -

One of the most sought-after camping spots on the Whitsunday Islands is the renowned Whitehaven Beach. Its reputation as one of the world's most beautiful beaches is well-deserved, thanks to its pristine white silica sand and breathtaking turquoise waters. 

The campsite, situated amidst trees at the southern end of the beach (arguably the most picturesque part), offers picnic tables and toilets (non-flushing) for campers' convenience. While the beach tends to be bustling with day tours during the day, it becomes a tranquil haven once they depart, offering you near-exclusive access to this slice of paradise.

This camping area provides access to various hiking trails, including the Southern Whitehaven lookout and the Chance Bay track. There's also the option to trek the entire 7km stretch from Whitehaven to Hill Inlet, where the world-famous swirling sands await. Keep in mind that to cross the inlet for a view of the swirling sands from the designated viewpoint, you'll need a kayak.

Chance Bay -

Situated on the southeastern edge of Whitsunday Island, Chance Bay offers a tranquil alternative for those seeking a quieter experience while still enjoying access to Whitehaven Beach. This campsite provides access to Whitehaven Beach via a 7.2km return walking trail through the bush. Elevated camping spots provide excellent views of Pentecost Island, the Lindeman Group, and Cape Conway.

Unlike Whitehaven Beach where fishing is prohibited, Chance Bay allows fishing. Additionally, snorkelers can explore the fringing reef, adding to the recreational options available.

For those planning a trip during the summer months, Chance Bay offers protection from the northerly trade winds, which is worth considering when making your travel plans.

Cairn Beach -

Located on the northwestern edge of Whitsunday Island in Hook Passage, the Cairn Beach campsite offers a secluded retreat amidst sheltered bushland. Set up camp amidst clusters of fragrant bottlebrush and along the picturesque rubble beach for a serene experience. If you're seeking solitude coupled with excellent fishing, snorkeling, and access to one of the best views of the Whitsundays, this spot is not to be overlooked.

Nestled in the trees on the edge of fringing reef, the Cairn campsite grants access to the Whitsunday Cairn track, a challenging yet rewarding hike leading to a top viewing point of Whitsunday Island. Alternatively, you can embark on a kayak adventure to explore the surrounding bays.

Campsite amenities include picnic tables, public moorings, and toilets (non-flushing).


Dugong Beach-

Situated on the western edge of Whitsunday Island, Dugong Beach enjoys protection from most wind conditions, particularly the southeasterly winter tradewinds. It boasts the largest camping site on the island, making it perfect for large groups. Highlights include opportunities for dugong and turtle spotting, fishing, and a sheltered bay for kayaking.

Dugong Beach provides access to several walking trails directly from the site. You can explore Sawmill Beach via a 1.5-kilometer walking track. For those seeking a more adventurous hike, the 5km return Whitsunday Peak track leads to a 437-meter high summit, offering breathtaking views of the Whitsundays.

It's important to note that due to shark attacks over the years, swimming and snorkeling are not advised.

Campsite amenities include sheltered picnic tables, and toilets (non-flushing).

Naris Beach -

Located just a short distance from Dugong Beach, Naris Beach offers a tranquil retreat nestled under a rainforest canopy with stunning views of Cid Island. This secluded campsite is limited to only six people, making it an ideal choice for those seeking seclusion and tranquility.

The bay at Naris Beach is perfect for kayaking and offers excellent fishing opportunities. Campsite amenities include picnic tables and non-flushing toilets.

It's important to note that due to shark attacks over the years, swimming and snorkeling are not advised.

Joes Beach -

Around the bend from Naris Beach, Joe's Beach offers another secluded camping experience with a sandy beach and picturesque views of Cid Island. This slightly larger campground can accommodate a maximum of 12 people.

Joes Beach is an ideal spot for relaxation, kayaking, and fishing. Campsite amenities include picnic tables and non-flushing toilets.

It's important to note that due to shark attacks over the years, swimming and snorkeling are not advised.

Camping on Hook Island


Crayfish Beach -

Located on the eastern side of Hook Island in Mackerel Bay, the Crayfish Beach campsite is nestled amidst dry rainforest bordering the beach. Mackerel Bay boasts some of the best fringing reefs around the islands.

While Mackerel Bay is quite exposed to our southeasterly winter trade winds, the campsite at Crayfish Beach is tucked away in a nook that offers protection from most wind directions. However, we recommend visiting the Crayfish Beach campsite during light winds or northerly winds, giving you the flexibility to explore the entire bay.

Activities are almost endless in Mackerel Bay, including snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, spearfishing, or simply spending your day exploring the rocky headland and beach.

Campsite amenities include picnic tables, non-flushing toilets and public moorings.

Maureens Cove -

Maureen's Cove, situated in a northern bay of Hook Island, offers a tranquil camping experience. The campsite is nestled in a shaded area between pandanus palms and beach gardenias, just behind a coral rubble beach.

While you'll have no trouble relaxing at this campsite and exploring the fringing reef off the beach, one highlight is its proximity to the surrounding bays. We recommend having a kayak on hand to explore the nearby Luncheon and Butterfly Bays, where you'll discover more beautiful beaches, mangroves, and fringing reefs.

The campsite at Maureen’s Cove provides protection from southeasterly winds, but you'll be quite exposed to our summer northeasterly winds. Be sure to check the wind forecast before deciding on your location. Additionally, please note that this campsite is located in a green zone, so fishing is not permitted.

Campsite amenities include picnic tables, non-flushing toilets and public moorings.


Steens Beach -

Set in the rainforest behind a beach, Steens Beach campsite offers beautiful views of Hayman Island, snorkeling, fishing, and a sandy beach for relaxing. Steens Beach is perfect for people seeking seclusion, as this campsite only allows bookings for one group.

Similar to Maureens Cove, Steens Beach enjoys close proximity to neighboring bays and islands, beckoning exploration of locales like Butterfly Bay, Stonehaven, Cockatoo Point, and Black Island.

While Steens Beach offers protection from Southeasterly winds, it is susceptible to northerlies. Additionally, Steens Beach is closed from October to April to protect turtle nesting grounds. Campsite amenities include picnic tables and non-flushing toilets.

Curlew Beach -

Nestled within the serene Macona Inlet on the southern tip of Hook Island, Curlew Beach campsite offers a secluded retreat under the shade of towering trees, just a stone's throw from the shoreline.

Curlew Beach features a stunning sandy coastline with a fringing reef just offshore, providing ample opportunities for snorkeling, fishing, and leisurely beach activities.

This campsite holds special significance as it's the closest camping area to the Ngaro Cultural Site. Embark on a kayak journey to Nara Inlet and find the brief walking track to explore the rich history of the Traditional Owners of the Land—the Ngaro People. Marvel at an awe-inspiring collection of rock art and middens dating back over 2500 years, offering a glimpse into ancient cultural practices and traditions.

Campsite amenities include picnic tables and non-flushing toilets.

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