Getting to the Whitsundays - Airport, Rail, Bus & Driving

Getting to the Whitsundays

We know you must be keen to get to the Whitsundays (after reading about how beautiful it is) - there are a number of ways of getting to the Whitsundays and its 74 Islands to suit both the luxury and budget traveller. Take to the seas, roads or sky and make your way to this supreme holiday destination.

We've included some information below of the various means that you can reach the Whitsundays. The region is located south of Cairns and about 1215km from Brisbane, however with 2 airports servicing the area, an ellaborate cruise terminal, rail and some amazing scenic roads through Queensland, whichever mode of transport you choose you can expect to see beautiful views through the window. 

Airlie Beach is the usual starting point to explore the Whitsundays mainland and is a popular jumping off point from which to explore the Whitsunday Islands. View this map of of the Whitsundays area to get an idea of what the region is like. Before you arrive make sure you have your Whitsundays accommodation booked. Read below for information on how to get to the Whitsundays. 

Whitsundays by Air

Hamilton Island MarinaThe Whitsundays are serviced by two main airports, the Great Barrier Reef Airport on Hamilton Island* and Whitsunday Coast Airport on the mainland at Proserpine. The Whitsundays Coast Airport at Proserpine is the major gateway to the region, while the Great Barrier Reef Airport is the access point to the islands and Great Barrier Reef. 

There are also 2 other light plane airports situated at Shute Harbour and Lindeman Island. Direct services operate from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with domestic and international connections via Brisbane, Sydney and Cairns airports.

Jetstar and Virgin operate flights daily to Proserpine from throughout Australia. A local coach service, courtesy coaches from accommodation houses, and taxi and hire cars are available from the airport to Proserpine, Cannonvale, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour.

The two airports are serviced daily by Virgin Australia and Jetstar. Whitsunday Coast Airport is 20km away from Airlie Beach and is roughly a 30 minute drive, with the airport offering transfers to Airlie Beach. Five kilometres up the coast from Airlie Beach is the Whitsunday Airport - a light plane airport situated at Shute Harbour.

Whitsundays AirportFlying Times to the Whitsundays: 

Direct flying times to the Whitsundays from other cities around Australia:

  • 1.5 hours north of Brisbane
  • 2 hours north of Sydney
  • 3 hours from Melbourne
  • 1.5 hours from Cairns to Hamilton

*Fantasea Cruises operate regular services from Great Barrier Reef Airport (Hamilton Island) with a direct travel time by comfortable high speed catamaran of 35 minutes. Fantasea also operate services from South Molle Island and Long Island. Contact Fantasea for Reservations on 07 4946 5111 from within Australia or +617+4946 5111 for International callers, or book online to avoid disappointment.

Whitsundays Ferry - Island Hop Pass

Whitsundays Ferry - Island Hop Pass Book Now Explore the Whitsunday Islands at your leisure with a flexible hop-on hop-off one day ferry ticket. Travel between Airlie Beach, Daydream Island Resort and Long Island Resort as many times as you like in one day. You'll get a timetable and map so you can explore these beautiful islands at your own leisure. Find out more...

Whitsundays by Rail

Sunlander Train Route MapQueensland Rail's 'Sunlander' services depart Brisbane and Cairns for Proserpine several times weekly where both sitting and sleeping berths are available. The Great South Pacific Express also services this area. Queensland Rail provides both passenger and freight rail services through Proserpine Station.

The northbound trains from Brisbane to Cairns are the Sunlander which operates on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, arriving at Prosperine late afternoon the following day. First Class passengers can book roomettes and twinettes. Economy sleepers may also be available on sum trains. The trains have a dining car and a club car.

With the introduction of the innovative Tilt Train last year traveling between Brisbane and Cairns, access between North Queensland and the Whitsundays has never been easier. Daylight running of the Tilt Train, 3 times weekly in each direction, allows passengers to enjoy the picturesque landscapes in a convenient, comfortable environment, ensuring they arrive refreshed and relaxed for their holiday escape.

There is a new look Tilt Train due to be released in October 2013, the Spirit of Queensland, with a sleeper option available for passengers that provides an even more comfortable & convenient service and launching Queensland Rail into a new era in long distance travel.

Whitsundays by Coach or Bus

Greyhound has several daily services through Airlie Beach that run northbound from Brisbane and southbound from Cairns. Phone Greyhound on 1300 473 946 for the latest schedule or check out the Greyhound website.

Premier Motor Service have a Brisbane northbound which arrives at Airlie Beach in the morning. The southbound from Cairns arrives in Airlie Beach late afternoon. For bookings call 133 410.

Whitsundays by Road

The Bruce Highway is a major highway running from Brisbane to Cairns. The Airlie Beach turn off is one kilometre north of Proserpine and is then a 20km trip into the beach town. The highway to Proserpine and the road into Cannonvale, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour is suitable for all vehicles.

For detailed maps and travel tips, the comprehensive Motoring Holiday Guides to Queensland are a must for all travellers. For your copy contact Tourism Queensland offices on 13 88 33, within Australia only.