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Whitsundays Yacht Charter

Essential Information


Address & Map


Sunsail Whitsundays
6 Bay Terrace
Shute Harbour
Queensland, 4802

Mailing Address

Sunsail Whitsundays
PO Box 357
Airlie Beach
Queensland 4802


Our Whitsundays base is located in Shute Harbour, the largest natural harbour on the Eastern seaboard of Australia. Situated about five miles from the township of Airlie Beach, Shute Harbour is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Brisbane is about 680 miles to the south, while Cairns is about 375 miles to the north. Sydney is less than two and a half hours away by plane.

For a fee, we can also arrange charter pick-ups and drop-offs at Hayman Island and Shute Harbour on the mainland.
This service cannot be booked online, only by ringing +61 7 4948 8250


Base Open Hours

7 Days per week - 8.30am till 5.00pm. Closed Christmas and New Years Day.

Base/Shore Facilities

The main base for Sunsail is at Shute Harbour, approximately 8 kilometres from the township of Airlie Beach, the heart of the Whitsundays.
Base facilities include: Overnight accomodation, showers, toilets, electricity, wireless Internet access, resort style shop, air conditioned reception lounge and a ferry terminal.
Additional facilities in Airlie Beach include: overnight accommodation, restaurants, bars, a selection of shops, a bank, post office, laundry, marinas, ferry terminals.

More information about the base please see here

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Arrival & Departure

Time difference

Australia is +10 hours ahead of the UK


Proserpine Airport (Whitsunday Coast Airport) is located just 10 kilometres out of Proserpine. Proserpine Airport has flight connections daily from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and is a modern and comfortably terminal with a kiosk for food and beverages. The transfer from the airport to Airlie Beach/ Shute Harbour is around 50 minutes by car/ bus.

Alternatively, you can fly directly into Hamilton Island and as no international flights fly direct to Hamilton Island Airport, you will clear customs at one of the major international airports, before your domestic flight to Hamilton Island. Bright and modern, Hamilton Island Airport has a comfortable departure terminal with plenty of passenger seating. There is an airport bar, cafe and small shop to purchase snacks and magazines


Shute Harbour – You can take a taxi or a shuttle bus from the airport to our mainland base at Shute Harbour. A private transfer to Shute Harbour can be arranged through us (prices vary) however this service must be booked in advance can only be booked by contacting a reservation consultant on +61 7 4948 8250 or There is no additional charge if you wish to start your charter from our Shute Harbour base.

Hamilton Island – For a fee, Sunsail guests are able to start and finish your yacht charter from Hamilton Island (fee applicable), if you are staying there before and afterwards. We can arrange for your vessel to meet you at Hamilton Island Marina, and will be collected from Hamilton Island on your return. Pick-up, drop-off and one-way transfers are strictly subject to availability at the time of booking, and do incur extra charges. Please check with your holidays planner, as these cannot be booked online.

Transfers from the airport at Hamilton Island to the marina are by the resort link. Please contact 0061 437 242 847 for bookings. Cost is $8 AUD per person. It is advisable to make an booking in advance to avoid waiting on the day of arrival.

Hayman Island - For a fee, Sunsail guests are able to start and finish your yacht charter from Hayman Island (fee applicable), if you are staying there before and afterwards. We can arrange for your vessel to meet you at Hayman Island Marina, and will be collected from Hamilton Island on your return. Pick-up, drop-off and one-way transfers are strictly subject to availability, and do incur extra charges. Please check with your reservation consultant as these cannot be booked online.
Please note: Shute Harbour and Hamilton Island options offer water, fuel and restaurants. Provisioning services are available from Hamilton Island and Shute Harbour but not at Hayman Island, where your provisioning will need to be pre-arranged.

All three start base options offer, water, fuel, money exchange, and restaurants. Showers and provisioning are available at Hamilton Island and Airlie Beach but not at Hayman Island.


We would highly recommend packing prescription medicine and essential clothing (swimsuit, t-shirt and shorts) in your hand luggage as occasionally luggage may arrive at the base after you do!
Please pack using soft-sided bags, as these are easier to store on your yacht.

Passports & Visas

Nearly all persons need a Tourist Visa or an Electronic Travel Authority to enter Australia (except for residents of NZ), although there is no charge for a stay of 3 months or less. We do, however, advise that you to check with immigration in any case.

Please ensure your passport is valid for the period of travel and for six months after you return. Your passport name must match the name on the flight ticket otherwise you may not be able to travel and insurance may be invalid.

If your child is not already included on a valid British Passport they are required to hold their own passport. Non-British passport holders, please contact your local consulate for advice on visa and passport requirements.
Please note country entry/exit requirements are subject to change. Please check with your local government or travel office for up to date information or passeport requirements. Sunsail is not accountable for any requirement changes.

Customs and Immigration

Before leaving the airport, you will have to clear Immigration and Customs.

A landing card will be given to you on the plane, along with a Customs declaration form. Airlines will assume no liability for perishable articles, e.g. food, which may also be confiscated by Customs.

Departure tax out of Australia is AUD$30 plus AUD$3.20 Noise Tax per person, payable at the airport.

On Arrival

Your yacht will be ready at 1200 hrs for boarding, but we recommend you call the base prior to arrival as your yacht may be available to board earlier.

All boats are prepared as per the booking for boarding time. Everyone will receive an individual yacht and chart briefing. This will take up to 2 hours so they need to allow plenty of time. It is not permitted to leave without adequate briefing.  

These are carried out individually for each yacht and are mandatory. The chart brief describes the cruising area and any potential hazards. A one week chart briefing takes about 30 minutes and a two week briefing about 45 minutes to one hour so allow plenty of time. The yacht briefing introduces you to your yacht and its systems and rigging. It is important that all systems and equipment are fully understood.

Security Credit Card Imprint

On arrival at the Whitsunday base, you will be requested to sign a credit card authority form before setting off on charter. This is taken as security against the following type of occurrences.
If you go to an island and charge expenses to Sunsail
Call out fees are incurred which Sunsail then have to pay

This does NOT take place of the damage waiver as it covers completely different things.

Out of hour’s arrival procedure

Please contact our reservations staff in relation to after hours requests on +61 7 4948 8250.

On departure

At the end of your charter your yacht will need to be vacated by 1000hrs. Before departing your boat you will be provided with a debrief form for completion.

The debrief form is to let us know if you have encountered any problems with the boat or broken anything during the trip, this enables us to rectify problems for the next charter.

In addition to filling in forms we also require you to bag dirty laundry and leave in the cockpit, empty all cupboards and fridges of food and throw away, return snorkel gear and any lifejackets borrowed from reception and ensure that the boat is handed back to Sunsail in a clean and tidy state.  We reserve the right to charge for boats left less than shipshape.

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Sailing Information

Australia is Sailing Experience Level 2/3
Experience levels are based on sailing conditions and the length of passages within your chosen sailing area. Follow the link for more information on the sailing conditions.

Sailing Licences

Although no sailing licences are required for cruising in Australia we strongly advise that you take any sailing certification on holiday with you.  This may be useful should you be contacted by Customs or Port Police.  If you have not already done so then the Skipper and 1st Mate will be required to fill in a Sailing CV to confirm that you have the necessary skills for sailing in this region.

Cruising Permits & Taxes

Marine park fees: AUD 19,50 per person per charter and additional AUD 10,50 administraton fee, payable on check in if this has not already been included in your invoice.

Night Time Sailing

You are not permitted to sail at night unless it has been agreed with the base manager prior to departure.

Cruising Area Limits

In the Whitsundays, clients can sail as far north as the northernmost tip of Hayman Island and the Southern tip of Shaw Island. The outer limit is 5 nautical miles from the most eastern of the Islands (25 miles from the mainland). Due to Government regulations, it is not possible for charter vessels to sail to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. However there are lots of alternative methods of getting there.

Moorings, Marinas & Fees and Restaurants

Apart from the marinas at Hamilton and Airlie Beach, clients may also moor off many of the 74 islands within the Whitsunday region. Resorts are situated on the following islands:

** as of 1 January 2015 the resort is currently closed for refurbishment

** no public resort facilities are available. You can however access the island's National Park bush walks by anchoring in Bauer Bay and accessing the beach with your tender.

Mooring Fee $150 for 24 hours (Australian Dollars)
Most guest activity programs are available and are included in your mooring fee, however there is a chance of a small cost.
Free showers available for use in the transit lounge.

Resort guests are permitted only. Overnight berths not available unless accommodating at the Resort.
It is important to notify Hayman Island in advance if you wish to spend the night at their resort facility.
$175 access fee for all berthed vessels for the first night, $150 for all subsequent nights (Australian Dollars)

There are a number of mooring bays surrounding the island (away from the old resort) and beaches that are accessible.
However, the old resort is off limits as there are several safety and liability issues with some areas being hazardous. Signs are installed for your safety.

For current berthing rates, please contact the marina directly.

NB. All prices are subject to change.

Area & Sailing

More information on the sailing in this area.
Please be aware that all our boats in Australia have chart plotters on board.

Charts & Pilot Book

All the charts and pilot books you will need for the sailing area are on board the yacht.
Charts and pilot books can be purchased in advance by mail order from the UK chandler Kelvin Hughes by contacting them direct on 02380 634911 or

Skippered Charter Information

You can either hire a skipper or sail guide on our yachts in the Whitsundays. Contact us for further information.

The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht at all times. They are not permitted to dive with you, nor leave the vessel overnight. They must conduct a safety brief with you before leaving the dock regardless of the duration of the skipper’s contract with you.

This skipper is required to give you a thorough briefing on all aspects of the yacht and dinghy in addition to assisting you with planning an itinerary for the trip and advising you how to contact the base, the return to base procedures and the emergency assistance procedures. It is suggested that you attend the scheduled chart brief that will be supplemented by the skipper during his time with you on the yacht. It is also suggested that you make it clear exactly what you want to cover…anchoring, docking, etc.

The skipper will be required to give you as much information as you require concerning the yacht and its systems, sailing skills and navigation in general.

The skipper fee does not include food or beverages for the skipper and are the responsibility of the client. It is suggested that you discuss this on the first day with the skipper and establish whether you will give the skipper cash for meals, whether you have included the skipper in your provisioning or whether you will accommodate the skipper as part of the group for meals ashore.

The skipper must have their own cabin. We prefer not to put the skipper in the bow due to the shared heads and size of the cabin. If you expect him to stay in the bow, please let us know well in advance so that we can choose the appropriate (small) skipper.

For one-day check out skipper’s it is the client’s responsibility to get the skipper back to the base. If you prefer not to come back to the base you must pay for his expenses (ferry, taxi, etc.) to get him back to the base.

The average tip for a skipper is 15 to 20% percent of the skipper’s fee. This is, of course, at the client’s discretion.


Your yacht will be provided with a full tank of fuel at the start of your charter and you will be required to pre-pay for your fuel with your holiday balance. If extra fuel is required you will need to return to Hamilton Island or Shute Harbour on the mainland to refill.

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Banks & Money Exchange


The currency throughout Australia is the Australian dollar (AUS$).


There is a bank and post office located at Hamilton Island Marina or in Airlie Beach on the mainland.

Traveller’s cheques, especially in foreign currencies, are generally NOT accepted except by hotels and big stores and tourist shops. These display a 'traveller’s cheques welcome' sign. Cash your cheques at a bank or Bureau de Change to ensure you have enough spending money. The same holds true for foreign currency, which is not generally accepted by Australian businesses and shops.

Credit Cards

All major credit cards are widely accepted and there is currently no purchase tax.


No service charge applies in Australia. Tipping is not mandatory but a 10% tip in restaurants and hotel bars is normal for good service.

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General Information


The official language is English.

Cost of living in Australia

Prices vary between areas and from restaurant to restaurant, however the following is a guide for reference:

  • A bottle of wine costs about AUD$14 (£6) in a supermarket and from AUD$24 (£10) in a restaurant.
  • A bottle of beer costs about AUD$3.6 (£1.50).
  • A cheap snack can be bought for about AUD$7 (£3). A three course meal is likely to cost over AUD$48 (£20) per head.

Influenced by a multicultural society, dining out in Australia is a culinary delight with the most varied choice of restaurants available in the world. Good food guides can be found in bookshops and newsagents.


Hamilton & Hayman Islands have good shopping precincts catering for all tastes and supplying all manner of merchandise.  Hamilton Islands’ bakery is just one of the islands famous eateries, producing mouth watering pastry products. Other Island resorts cater for visitors shopping needs with outlets providing clothing, footwear, food, souvenirs and other holiday essentials.

Car Rental:
The major car rental companies including Avis, Hertz, Europocar, Thrifty, and Budget are all available.


Each of the Whitsunday Islands has a distinctive character of its own. Choose from being pampered in five star luxury to a range of moderate accommodation that caters for singles, couples and families alike. Many island resorts provide babysitting and Kids Clubs.


Sunsail offer a whole range of shore based excursions which are extra to our normal product and are organised through a 3rd party company. Ask at the base or the UK office for further details.

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Electrical, Phones & Music


The standard voltage on all yachts is 12 volts. In order to use electronic equipment that is 220v you will need an inverter suitable for use in a cigarette lighter.

Mobile phones

You can use a mobile telephone from your home country if you have international roaming options.
Another alternative is to buy a mobile phone with a prepaid SIM card.


All boats are fitted with a radio and CD player. If you wish to listen to your IPOD whilst sailing you will need to bring along an I-trip or FM radio transmitter.

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You can fish in the Whitsundays - no permit is required - there are just some zones where you cannot fish, but we go over this in the briefing your departure... We don't supply fishing equipment, but this can be purchased from a shop just next door to us.


Diving Equipment – can be hired locally.
The snorkelling and diving are fantastic throughout the Islands, with clear blue water, and masses of tropical fish, turtles, manta rays, and so on. Butterfly Bay on the north tip of Hook Island is particularly well known for its abundance of sea life.  In addition to all of this, there is an annual migration of hump-backed whales around July to October.


We have a range of snorkelling gear which you may wish to use. We are limited on children’s sizes so if you have your own you may wish to bring them with you.


Kayaks and Stand Up Paddleboards are available for hire on charter and can be pre-booked - they are between $18 - 22 per day.
Please note this equipment is subject to availability at the time of booking.

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Sunsail Whitsundays recommend that you provision your yacht in advance so that you can arrive to a fully stocked yacht, ready to set sail. Food and Beverages can be expensive on the islands and why would you want to spend time in a supermarket or local grocery store when you are on holiday?

We highly recommend that you use the services of Whitsunday Provisioning, a local company that has been providing provisions and drinks to Whitsunday holiday makers for over 30 years. They carry a wider range of options than any other online supermarket in the region. Their speciality is in providing complete pre-designed Charter meal packages, that come in three different price ranges and cater for any number of days. These very popular packages have been designed to take the stress out of provisioning for charter.

Their Packages start from as little as $28.00 (Australian Dollars) per person and include everything, from your main meals, afternoon snacks, evening chocolates and nibbles. All you have to is state the number of passengers and number of days (or use the partial packages if you plan to eat out as well) and everything else is taken care of! They even have Kids packs.

Thereafter all that is left for you to do is to go to their Beverage section and select your wines, beers and soft drinks. Place your order online and put your feet up - the rest is done and delivered direct to your boat, 7 days a week.

If their Meal Plan Package option isn’t for you, their online supermarket offers a wide range of items to choose from. They also provide a great range of delicious platters, that can be substituted for your first night and a wide range of beverages that offers everything from bottled water through to beer, wine and spirits. And they do it at Mainland prices.

They provide a delivery service 7 days a week to Hamilton Island and deliver in insulated boxes, designed to keep your stores cool and fresh while waiting to be unpacked, so that you will get the freshest produce on time, every time.

Please click here Whitsunday Provisioning to start shopping.

Please note, if you use other providers to deliver food and beverages to base, you will need to be present in person to accept the delivery. Our staff are unable to accept these deliveries on your behalf.

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Health & Safety

Illness or Injury

If you are taken ill and visit the doctor or hospital during your trip contact a member of Sunsail staff as soon as possible on either a lead boat or at a Sunsail base or Club.

If you need to make a claim for curtailment due to illness, ask the base manager for assistance and contact your insurer’s emergency medical service immediately.

Your insurance company will assist with travel arrangements, advice and payment of bills.
Obtain receipts for any medication, treatment or transport you have to pay for and submit with your clai


All yachts are equipped with adult life jackets harnesses we leave it up to you to decide when personal safety equipment should be worn. We have a limited supply of children’s life jackets (age 4+ only) if you have your own children’s life jacket we would encourage you to bring it along.

We suggest that children who are not strong swimmers should not be allowed in a dinghy without a life jacket or buoyancy aid and that they should wear a buoyancy aid or harness when on deck. Children under the age of 16yrs should not operate an outboard engine and should be supervised at all times when in the dinghy.

*Please note:  
New regulations in Queensland require all children under 12 to wear a lifejacket on open boats less than 4.8 metres while under way. This means in dinghies going to and from a bareboat but not on the boat itself.

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