Private charters, secluded beachside accommodation and unrivalled access to the Great Barrier Reef: the Whitsundays is a collection of island paradises off the Queensland coast where luxurious escapes await. These six experiences showcase some of the most exclusive ways to enjoy the archipelago’s world-renowned natural beauty. 

Sleep in luxurious lodgings

Hayman island resort

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, just an hour’s launch ride from neighbouring Hamilton Island and hemmed by the beauty of the Whitsundays’ lush rainforests and waters, has long been the Great Barrier Reef’s flagship luxury stay. Swim in the resort’s iconic wrap-around pool, book a frangipani scented body treatment or lymphatic massage at the onsite Hayman Spa and unwind in one of the 182 contemporary guest rooms. 

As the only accommodation on the island, InterContinental Hayman Island’s  rooms, suites and villas are split across four distinct wings – Pool, Lagoon, Beach and Pavilion – and epitomise coastal chic with swathes of natural light and cool colour palettes. From each wing you can choose to soak up views of the resort’s swimming pools, Coral Sea or tropical rainforest gardens.

For a truly private stay, opt for one of the four Hayman Residences. Each is fitted with four sleek guest rooms, a private pool, two personal buggies and a dedicated concierge service, with the option to include bespoke meal kits, a private chef and in-residence catering. Designed by Australian architect Kerry Hill, the residences offer complete seclusion and are just a 10-minute buggy ride from the main resort. 

See the reef from the skies

Helicopter over reef

Fly over the silica white sands of Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, Hook Island and the iconic Heart Reef in your very own chartered helicopter. The Best of Both Worlds tour takes off from Hayman Island and whisks guests away on a four-and-a-half hour adventure that includes a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef and time on Reefworld – a permanently moored pontoon perched at Hardy Reef where you can snorkel through through coral lagoons. Before the tour is complete, there’s time to  pause for refreshments, including sparkling wine, waters, beach shade and blanket on Whitehaven Beach. 

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Picnic in paradise

Beachside picnic

Feel the famous sands of the Whitsundays between your toes while you sip bubbles on a beachside picnic at Bali Hai, Blue Pearl Bay or Langford Island. There will be no lugging of an esky here: the InterContinental organises private picnics complete with San Daniele prosciutto, marinated olives and a selection of Australian cheeses, plus beach blankets – all set up so you don’t have to lift a finger. 

Charter your own adventure

ocean affinity whitsundays

Feel the wind in your hair, the saltwater spray on your skin and the sun on your face as you set sail for a once-in-a-lifetime experience sailing on the Whitsundays aboard Ocean Affinity, a luxury, Australian-built Marten 49 yacht with Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race pedigree. Cruise through the Great Barrier Reef and explore the icing sugar sands of Whitehaven Beach before dropping into secluded bays for a private snorkel and gourmet picnic. 

Indulge in oceanside dining

Pacific restaurant

When it comes to fine-dining experiences in The Whitsundays, nowhere compares to Hayman Island. InterContinental Resort Hayman Island offers five restaurants and bars – Pacific, Amici, Aqua, Bam Bam and Bar Fifty – alongside a selection of destination-inspired private dining experiences. Our pick? Pacific, with its Coral Sea aspect and contemporary take on classic brasserie dishes. The menu serves up the likes of mud crab and pickled kohlrabi, white sturgeon caviar, roasted quail with black garlic green herbs and remoulade. There’s also a heady selection of steaks including a Wagyu onglet MB9+ served with smoked bone marrow, parsley salad and pickled shallot. And a glamorous seafood buffet filled with sashimi, woodfired prawns, whole baked reef fish, oysters and more every Friday night.

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