Camping on the Whitsunday Islands

The Whitsundays Islands are one of the most beautiful places we visited during our three months in Australia. The water is a perfect bright blue and the sand is like flour. Without a private boat, there are two ways to visit the Whitsundays, take a day tour or go camping. Camping at the Whitsundays is the perfect way to miss some of the crowds. Waking up on Whitehaven Beach is a dream. Every day we had the beach to ourselves until the tours came through. We stayed 3 nights and it was perfection. To have a more intimate experience, Whitehaven beach camping is the way to go.

 

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Whitehaven Beach

 

When to Go Camping on the Whitsundays

While the beach looks perfect year round, Queensland gets hit with rain and jellyfish between the months of November and May. It is best to go camping when it is not the wet season. During this time the hot humid days, rain, and jellyfish take over the tropical north of Queensland.

 

Which Beaches Have Camping?

There are three islands that have campsites. Whitsunday Island has six campsites, Hook Island has four campsites, and Henning Island has one campsite. Whitehaven beach is one of the campsites. This is a very popular location for camping so book ahead during holidays and school breaks.

 

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Waking up with coffee and a book on Whitehaven Beach…perfect!

 

Map of Campsites

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Map of campsites from whitsundaycamping.com.au

 

How to Book

Scamper is the only company shuttling campers. Campsite permits and boat transportation need to be booked separately. It is important to first book transportation to ensure availability. Then book a permit online or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68). Scamper can be booked by calling directly at +61 (7) 4946 6285, 0429 466285, or 0487 226 737. Scamper rents out full gear (tent, mattresses, stove, fuel, cutlery, 50L esky, and torchlight) for $40 the first night and $20 each subsequent night. Water and large plastic bins are provided by Scamper for your stay. Ice is available for $5 per bag at the harbor. Listed below are the prices for round trip transfer in AUD:

All prices are in AUD.

Cairns Beach, Whitsunday Island

$155 per person

Chance Bay, Whitsunday Island

$155 per person

Dugong Beach, Whitsunday Island

$105 per person

Joes Beach, Whitsunday Island

$105 per person

Nari’s Beach, Whitsunday Island

$105 per person

Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island

$155 per person

Crayfish Beach, Hook Island

$160 per person

Curlew Beach, Hook Island

$160 per person

Maureen’s Cove, Hook Island

$160 per person

Steens Beach, Hook Island

$160 per person

Northern Spit, Henning Island

$105 per person

 

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Enjoying a swim

 

Campsite Costs

Camping costs are $6.35 for each adult and $25.40 for a family. Families are considered two adults and up to five children under the age of 18. Not a bad price to wake up to these beautiful views. For more information on camping check out Queensland National Park website.

 

 

Departure and Parking Information

Parking is available at the Shute Harbour Marina. Parking is free, but space is limited. Get there early to secure a spot. The departure time depends on the tide and leaves between 8 am and 1 pm.

 

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Rent a kayak, it is worth it!

 

Rent a Kayak

Located just beside the Scamper office is Salty Dog Sea Kayaks. They rent open top kayaks and closed sea kayaks. Open top kayaks are great for those staying at one campsite, but looking to explore the area and nearby beaches. If looking for a bigger kayaking adventure, you can rent closed sea kayaks, and book different campsites on different islands, kayaking between each destination. In addition to kayak rentals, Salty Dog rents camping equipment that is sufficient for travel with sea kayaks (small tent, mattress, stove, fuel, cutlery) for $40 the first night, and $20 each subsequent night. Prices for kayaks are:

 

 

Full Day Price

4+ Days Rental Price

Sea Kayak Single

$90

$80

Sea Kayak Double

$120

$100

Open Top Kayak Single

$40

Open Top Kayak Double

$50

 

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Around the corner from Whitehaven Beach

 

Hill Inlet Lookout via Kayak

To see the most popular spot in the Whitsundays you will have to put your arms to work.  The hill inlet lookout is about 8km from the camping area on Whitehaven beach.  Although doable in one day it’ll be a scorcher. Bring lots of water, lunch, sunblock, and something to cover your head, arms, and legs. The adventure is definitely worth it to get that amazing view!

 

Hill Inlet Lookout via Walking

It is possible to walk across to Hill Inlet during low tide. Be careful and time your crossing carefully as you may get stuck out there. Most likely crossing will involve wading through some water. It’ll definitely be a long day. It took me two hours to walk from the campsite to the end of the sandbar on Whitehaven Beach (7km).

 

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Hill Inlet views

 

Tips and Important Things to Know

  • There is little shade at the campsite.  The sand is so white that the reflection makes it much stronger. Unless lobster red is your favorite color, cover up from 10 am – 2 pm and wear a shit ton of sunscreen. A tarp or sun umbrellas can be super helpful.

  • Did I mention the sand is like flour? Although extremely beautiful, you’ll find little mementos of the trip days, if not weeks later. The sand got everywhere! Be extra cautious with electronics and food.

  • Speaking of food. Scamper kindly provided plastic storage bins to store food. Always keep food and garbage in the plastic bins. Our neighbors left food out one night and we were visited by some very noisy guests.

  • From November till March it is recommended to wear stinger suits while in the water to protect against jellyfish. These can be rented from Scamper.

  • Water is provided by Scamper. It was enough for cooking and drinking.

  • During the day, hundreds of people visit Whitehaven Beach on day trips. There are boats as well as seaplanes. The beach can get crowded and the seaplanes can be noisy. This is a perfect time to get in a kayak and explore the beaches just around the corner!

 

 

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What to Bring

 

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Quiet mornings, a picture perfect setting, you can’t get any better!

 

Food Recommendations for Camping

Breakfast

  • Quick oats with brown sugar

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Muffins / bagels

  • Coffee

Lunch

  • Tuna fish sandwiches with hard cheese (i.e Manchego) on a bagel/roll

  • Avocado with salt and paprika on bagel/roll with hard cheese

  • Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

Dinner

  • Instant meals (i.e. Mountain House or Backpacker’s Pantry organic options)

  • Soba noodles with broccoli and soy sauce packets

  • Mac & cheese

  • Pasta with garlic and oil

  • Red lentil curry

Snacks

  • Beef jerky

  • Gummies

  • Protein bars

  • Chocolate

  • Nuts or trail mix

Spices

  • Salt

  • Curry powder

  • Smoked paprika

 

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We camped for three nights at Whitehaven Beach in October 2017.

 

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