Think of Australia and the Great Barrier Reef the first place anyone would think of is Cairns. Want to avoid the touristy beaches and need the tranquility, look no further, with palm-fringed white sand beaches surrounded by clear blue waters, the Whitsunday Islands are the epitome of a tropical paradise.

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The Whitsunday Islands is a group of 74 islands bordered by the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the sheltered waters of the Coral Sea. With palm-fringed secluded white sand beaches surrounded by clear blue waters, the Whitsunday Islands are the epitome of a tropical paradise.

Formed millions of years ago, the name was given to Australia’s largest group of offshore islands by Captain Cook, who sailed through the passage on Whitsunday in 1770.

The traditional owners of the Whitsunday Islands were called the Ngaro, and are among the earliest recorded Aboriginal groups in Australia. The Whitsunday Ngaro Sea Trail, which connects South Molle, Hook and Whitsunday Islands, follows in their ancient footsteps.

Some islands are little more than a strip of finely crushed coral sand, held together by the roots of a single palm tree. Others are home to luxurious resorts. The Whitsunday Islands are the romantic destination of more wedding proposals and honeymoons per square metre than anywhere else in Australia.

One of the best ways to soak up the sun-drenched beauty of this island paradise is to sail onboard a self-skippered or crewed catamaran or yacht, visiting a different island or reef each day. Boats charters depart from Airlie Beach or Shute Harbour. *Accommodation at Airlie Beach, Hamilton Island, Reefsleep experience (Viator)

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The largest island, Whitsunday Island, is also the site of Whitehaven Beach, a seven kilometre stretch of deserted white sand. It’s one of the most photographed beaches in Australia. Fly over iconic Heart Reef, landing nearby to enjoy snorkelling in the privacy of your own remote coral atoll.

Daydream Island is one of the closest of the Whitsunday Island resorts to the coast. Unique to the island is a man-made outdoor aquarium, the Living Reef, where you can hand feed the resident stingrays, sharks and barramundi fish. Do note that Daydream Island is undergoing a refurbishment due to the substantial damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. The resort island will reopen for guests from mid-2018.

Hamilton Island is the only island in the Great Barrier with its own airport making travel simple. Flights depart daily from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.

The destination is ideal for all types of travellers with a wide range of accommodation options to choose from. A great choice for families is the Reef View Hotel boasting a fantastic view over Catseye Beach. For those seeking a more boutique offering, then the stylish, adults-only Beach Club makes for the ultimate romantic getaway. Hamilton Island’s jewel in the crown, qualia – voted Best Resort in the World in the 2012 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards – is the ultimate Great Barrier luxury experience.

Once on island, there are several dining options and an abundance to see and do. Hamilton Island offers over 60 activities including several ways to experience the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach and Heart Reef.

Hamilton Island also boasts a robust and diverse range of events throughout the year providing even more reasons to plan your next Whitsundays getaway including Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, the Australian Ballet’s pas de deux in paradise performed at qualia and for those wanting a physical challenge, Hamilton Island’s Endurance Series events.

Hayman Island is the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands. Its private five-star resort is one of the most awarded in Australia. It’s a popular spot for both guests and day visitors.

How to get to the spectacular Whitsundays? There are flight options available from Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane to Proserpine Airport (gateway to Airlie Beach) or fly direct to Hamilton Island and you will be right straight into the beach paradise.

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Facts: Whitsunday Island is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland Coast. Hop onto our favourite operator’s Cruise Whitsundays best-selling tour “Great Barrier Reef Adventures – a full day cruise with lunch included” for a day of adventure out to the Great Barrier Reef at their very own Reefworld pontoon. There are a range of activities available on the pontoon – take the “Subsea Adventure” to explore the reef with commentary from the Marine Experts, fully immerse yourself with the reef life by snorkeling, diving*, relax with a massage* or take a scenic helicopter ride* to view the iconic Heart Reef” (to be honest 4hours will pass by so fast you wished you have more time there.) Another reason why you should go for this Great Barrier Reef Adventures, the staff on board are really friendly, passionate about their job that they are more willing to share more information about the reef with you – and surprisingly aesthetically pleasing.

So wait no more and go on an adventure to the Whitsunday Islands and tick another one of the seven wonders of the world the Great Barrier Reef off your bucket list!