PLACES TO STAY ON THE WHITSUNDAYS
Whether you choose the mainland, one of the islands, a boat, or a combination, there is something for every dollar and desire. Get yourself settled, and then begin to explore.
BIG4 ADVENTURE WHITSUNDAY RESORT
If you are a bit of a luxe traveler and the thought of staying in a caravan park makes you break out in a nervous sweat, this place will cure you of your preciousness. It is fantastic…. Complete with a coffee and cake truck! You can take the camp or caravan option, or stay in a one, two or three bedroom luxury cabin. And as much as you have nature’s wonderland at your doorstep, you’ll also be pretty stoked with the facilities this resort has to offer. It is a massive playground of a different kind!
The resort is set on 26 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds offering a special combination of wide open spaces, stunning tropical gardens, an area for wedding ceremonies, a massive vege patch and a farm animal park. But it is the resort facilities that truly set it apart, you’ll find Airlie Beach’s largest resort pool (heated in winter), water slides, tennis, mini golf, outdoor movies, playground, jumping pillow, Kids Club, Toddler Time and a mega 13 slide waterslide park! You can sit on your cabin verandah sipping (insert beverage of choice here) while the kids enjoy the best waterslide park of any resort in Australia.
The park is family owned and operated for over 24 years, and they welcome and treat you like you’re a guest in their home. No surprise that they have won over 35 awards including the Australian Tourism Award for Tourist & Caravan Parks!
MANTRA CLUB CROC
Another great choice for families is the Mantra Club Croc. It has had a major refurbishment, so it is all shiny and new yet oozes a relaxed calm. It’s located in Cannonvale, a nice scenic walk in and out of Airlie Beach along the Bicentennial Boardwalk. It’s close enough to the action of Abell Point Marina and Airlie Beach without being in the thick of it. It has all the trimmings of a large hotel – 24hour reception, a large lagoon pool with adjoining spa, tropical gardens, bistro style restaurant and gymnasium, while still providing intimate service. The hotel is housed in a traditional Queenslander style building offering a glimpse into the region’s past, contrasted by its contemporary accommodation and tropical laid-back vibe.
PALM BAY RESORT, Long Island
This place is for anyone and everyone. From the outdoor-adventurer to the honeymooners, and families too. If you want a good taste of island life – Palm Bay will serve it up on a tropical patterned plate!
Palm Bay Resort is a beautiful boutique resort nestled in the neck of Long Island, one of the iconic islands of the Great Barrier Reef. With its own secluded private cove, it offers spacious Balinese inspired villas and extensive views to the Whitsunday passage and Coral Sea. As you sail up to the island, you are greeted by a white sandy beach peppered with bright coloured ocean toys. Kayaks, canoes, and snorkel gear. Then a large, timber deck adorned with easy chairs and lounges – straight away ear-marked for an afternoon snooze. Either side, slightly set back behind the palm trees are the villas.
A tree-lined path leads you to the main building, which is all open making the most of the tropical breezes. There is an activities desk, bar, restaurant (but not a restaurant) and then beautiful, inviting pool and waterfall. There is also a library and communal entertainment cabin with wide-screen TV, but the entire time we are there, no one has used it. Too much to do outside. There’s plenty of walking trails, private beaches, and a hammock to help you pass time.
The resort’s design is to intricately blend into its natural surroundings and emphasise the fact it’s a stone’s throw from some of Australia’s most iconic reefs and beaches. You can lie in your hammock on the verandah and watch the sea turtles or feed the cockatoos. You can swim, snorkel, kayak, SUP, tennis or take a walk through the beautiful bushland surrounding the resort. Or you can visit the Spa for time out from your time out!
One little quirks I loved about this place, aside from not wearing shoes the entire time I was there, was the fact it was self-catered. You bring your food with you to the island and cook your meals in the large, well-equipped kitchen. There is even a wood-fired pizza oven and plenty of condiments to jazz up the ordinary.
You store your perishables in the coolroom everything is marked out with your name so there is no ‘accidental’ food pinching. And all the crockery and cutlery you could hope for is provided. Your villa also has a basic kitchen set up and fridge.
I liked this. It is a good way of keeping your budget in check and allows you to eat foods you enjoy – especially if you’re a little on the fussy side (like me). Often island resort restaurants are limited in what they can offer due to the distance from the mainland. Everything needs to be transported to the island adding to the price tag, while not necessarily adding to your trip experience.
Preparing your meals in the main kitchen is a great time to mingle with other guests, all sharing their travel stories and experiences. There are tables and chairs set up in an open style arrangement. Apart from having prepared and served your meal, you feel as if you’re in a restaurant by the sea. You can also eat around the pool, or you can take your food back and sit on your villa verandah or on the beach. Don’t worry if you forget anything food-wise, as there is a well-stocked store at the resort selling a variety of food to create a masterpiece – and good wines too. There is also a great cocktail slash cafe bar, which serves a damn-fine coffee. And no, you don’t have to do the dishes!
We took the easier option – we had all of our meals catered by Peach and Pear Catering. So while we had all our own food choices, our preparation was minimal. If you're doing a short stay, I’d recommend having your meals catered so you can truly relax. However long you stay at Palm Bay, it won’t be enough. It is the perfect blend of simple island living, yet plenty of luxuries to ensure you don’t go without while on holidays. There is so much to do or you can simply do nothing.
Just a short ferry ride back to the mainland also means you can pop out to Long Island for a day visit. I highly recommend doing this as an absolute minimum. Long Island and Palm Bay Resort is a quintessential tropical island hide-away. And an integral piece of the colourful tapestry which makes up the Whitsundays. Phil Syme at Island Transfers provide Ferry to and from Long Island via Shute Harbour
Ride to Paradise is the ultimate Whitsunday Islands adventure package. This “Thrill and Chill” combo includes two nights accommodation at the exclusive Paradise Cove Resort, plus two days exploring the Whitsunday Islands on the fast and fun Wildcat. Feed your adventurous side during the day with fast boat rides and water sports, then relax and chill at the most secluded location that only caters for 12 guests at a time!
Paradise Cove Resort is a privately-owned estate at Woodwark Bay, surrounded by 10,000 acres of national park. The resort brings peace through the natural beauty of absolute oceanfront tropical gardens and fringed by white sand and towering coconut palms. This luxury hideaway will take guests to another place.