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Sailing Whitsundays & Great Barrier Reef

Explore paradise on this once in a lifetime sailing experience

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Group Size: Maximum 30 

Trip code: CTNQ

Duration: 9 days

Live aboard a converted racing yacht in the Whitsundays
Eat Breakfast with Koalas
Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

All aboard a bucket list adventure! Glide around the gorgeous Whitsundays on a converted racing yacht for 2 nights before adventuring up to Cairns for a buzzing city and the once in a lifetime experience snorkelling with the intricate ecosystem on the Great Barrier Reef. This group adventure makes this a social experience like no other as you will have a ready-made group of mates to explore the stunning East Coast of Australia. Learn about the country’s rich history with fascinating lessons about Bush Food and Aboriginal art. You’ll spend ample time in the tranquil sea, wandering on untouched sands and soaking up some rays. Have the opportunity to end the trip with some heart-racing adventures, including skydiving and white water rafting! 

Trip highlights

  • Sail on a converted racing yacht travelling around the Whitsundays 
  • Swim in clear seas and explore sandy beaches including Whitehaven Beach 
  • Enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast with Bungalow Bay’s Koalas 
  • Learn about Aboriginal culture and art from local Kuku Yalanji people
  • Swim with the wonderful marine life on the Great Barrier Reef 
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What's included
  • 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 5 dinners
  • Breakfast in Bungalow Bay Koala Village
  • Bush food tutorial and dinner 
  • 7 nights of accommodation in hostels 
  • 2 nights aboard a converted racing yacht 
  • All in trip transport, including coach, boat and train 
  • Expert guide, captain and crew 
  • Day trip to Daintree 
  • Help with onward travel
  • 24-hour support
What's not included
  • Airport transfers
  • Visas
  • Insurance
  • Flights
  • Optional activities
Further trip information

Day 1: Airlie Beach. Welcome to paradise! Airlie Beach is the perfect place to kick off the next 9 days as you meet your new group and get to know each other with a lovely welcome dinner. Enjoy a free night to explore this coastal town’s tranquil waters and buzzing nightlife.  

Day 2: Airlie Beach to The Whitsundays. Get ready to set sail! We’ll head to the marina and get ready to make our converted racing yacht your home for the next 2 nights. There is no better place to glide around than the Whitsunday Islands, catch some rays up on deck and enjoy a freshly prepared lunch and dinner - sounds perfect, doesn’t it? 

Day 3: The Whitsundays. Don’t get to pack your snorkel! You won’t be able to resist a dip in the sea and the marine life is stunning! We’ll stop off on the picture perfect Whitehaven beach and all your meals will be prepared ready for you to revitalise. 

Day 4: The Whitsundays to Magnetic Island. Wake up early to catch a stunning sunrise reflecting off the water before hopping back to shore. A train journey packed with the best Aussie East Coast views will take us to Townsville, where we’ll board a ferry to magical Magnetic Island. Take some time to explore the island’s lush nature and wildlife as we treat you to a delicious dinner and a drink as the sun sets. 

Day 5: Magnetic Island. Start off this amazing day with an unlimited freshly cooked breakfast with some special guests, Koalas! You’ll be spoilt for choice on how to spend your day - enjoy the gorgeous views of the Palm Island Group on the Forts Walk, visit WWII fortifications or soak up the rays on the beach with a beer in hand. Hang out with Rock Wallabies and spend the evening with a perfect sunset, hanging out in local bars. 

Day 6: Magnetic Island to Cairns. Wave goodbye to your new Koala besties, hop back on the ferry, back to Townsville and then continue along the coast, ready for an afternoon in the wonderful Cairns. Get ready for a Make Travel Matter tutorial and dinner from an experienced chef, a more than ideal way to set up the next few days! 

Day 7: Cairns. Today is loaded up as a memorable Make Travel Matter day! Enjoy one of a kind tour of Daintree, the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. This place is brimming with luscious greenery and an abundance of ancient canopies. If you’re not already sold, David Attenborough named it ‘the most extraordinary place on earth' so it truly is special. Get educated on Aboriginal culture and craft a special souvenir that you can keep as a reminder of this epic day! 

Day 8: Cairns. If you’re missing the ocean, take the opportunity today to hop aboard a catamaran over the world famous Great Barrier Reef! Jump in with a snorkel to see the wonderful ecosystem, with the marine crew informing you on all you need to know about marine life. 

Day 9: Cairns. Tick off some bucket list experiences as an epic end to this trip! What’s a better way to say goodbye to your new friends than soaring through the jungle on a giant swing or bungee jumping off the world famous AJ Hackett Bungy Tower. Take a dive out of a plane, hang above the rainforest on a Skyrail, or speed down Barron River White Water Rafting. Cairns is famed for these thrill seeking activities and you won’t want to miss out! Say your goodbyes to your group and start prepping your next trip down under! 

Please note that all activities, inclusions and itineraries are subject to change.

Real customer reviews
Australia Facebook Group Discussion

Hey, I’ve just booked onto East Coast Highlights on August 31st. Has anyone else booked onto the same trip?x

Heya everyone! I had originally booked for oct this year but thinking of moving it to January 2023 to do the east coast tour. Is it a good time to go and is it still warm? ☀️☀️

Hey! Is anyone doing East Coast highlights in December 2022? 😁xxxx

Booking options

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Arrival information

Proserpine Airport (PPP), located just 26 kilometres southwest of Airlie Beach is the closest airport if you are wanting to fly into the Whitsundays. Proserpine Airport has direct flights from major cities such as Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.

You will need to make your own way to the starting hostel. It takes approximately 35 minutes and it's very easy to get a taxi or an airport shuttle.

Accommodation & meals

Accommodation

 This trip provides 6 nights in a variety of Hostels and 2 nights in a Converted Racing Yacht. 

 An example of hostels you can stay in are provided below. Please note all accommodation is subject to change. 

  •  Airlie Beach - Base Backpackers 
  • Magnetic Island - Base Backpackers 
  • Cairns- Gilligans 

Meals

 You will be provided with 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 5 dinners. The remainder of the meals you will need to provide yourself, which provides the opportunity to try out authentic and local cuisines. 

Minimum age & eligibility

This trip is designed for travellers aged 18-35 years old.

All visitors to Australia (excepting those from New Zealand) will need a visa or e-visa/ETA to enter. These must be applied for before departure, and if you’re planning on working in Australia whilst you’re out there you’ll need a Working Holiday Visa. If you’re just heading to Australia for fun however, an ETA will be fine. Both visas can be applied for online.

Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for up to date information.

Covid safety

This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:

Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.

Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.

Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.

Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.

Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.

Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.

Healthcare
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.

24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.

It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.