Located scattered off the central Queensland coast, the Whitsunday islands are characterized by azure/turquoise blue waters, coral flowerbeds, sandy beaches, lush, green topped islands popping above the sea. With beautiful scenery, access to the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef, and a tropical climate that’s pleasant and warm year-round, it is no wonder the Whitsundays are a hugely popular place among backpackers, honeymooners and travelers from around the world.
Not only are the Whitsudnays totally spectacular, but sheltered warm waters and nicely blowing winds makes the islands a sailors paradise. The islands also offer a wide array of beauty—from the fine white sand at Whitehaven beach to amazingly colorful fields of coral.
Here are some facts about the beautiful Whitsunday Islands:
• Captain Cook first sailed through the Whitsundays on the 4th of June 1770. Cook named the area after the day he sailed though, Whitsunday, the second Sunday of Easter.
• There are 74 Islands in the Whitsundays.
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• The Whitsundays has the 2nd busiest ferry terminal in Australia – Shute Harbour (2nd only to Sydney Harbour)
• The Whitsundays is 70% National Park.
• Even Geologists cannot be sure where the Silica sand on Whitehaven Beach comes from although there are several unproven theories. One theory even includes a sunken volcano.
• Whitehaven Beach is classed as one of the top five beaches in the world. The fine sand particles are also great for polishing jewellery (not so great for cameras though!)
• Heart Reef off the Whitsunday coast in the Great Barrier Reef is a natural formation of coral.
• The Whitsundays are situated on the same latitude as Rio de Janeiro and Tahiti, and therefore the Whitsundays enjoys a tropical climate with daily temperatures varying little from month to month. The days are warm year round and evenings are sultry in summer but cooler in the winter, requiring only a light jacket or sweater.
• The average water temperature in the Whitsundays is 26 degrees C.
• The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the largest coral reef system in the world, covering 344,000 km2 in area, is approx. 2,300 km in length and varies from 60km to 230km wide;
– There are 2,900 reefs, 600 continental islands and 300 coral cays;
– Only 6% of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park consists of coral reefs – the rest is made up of sea grass, mangroves, sand, algal and sponge gardens, inter-reefal communities and other habitats;
– It is home to approx. 1,500 species of fish, 360 species of hard coral, one third of the world’s soft corals, 5,000 – 8,000 species of molluscs, 400-500 species of marine algae, 600 species of echinoderm (eg. Starfish), 17 species of sea snakes, 22 species of sea birds, 13,000 dugong, 6 species of marine turtles (all listed as threatened), 30 species of cetaceans (eg. Whales and dolphins)