12 Top-Rated Resorts in the Whitsundays

Written by Karen Hastings
Jan 13, 2023
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Queensland's Whitsunday resorts offer an idyllic tropical island getaway. Nestled along the golden shores of Australia's dreamy Whitsunday Islands, these luxury havens make the perfect base for Great Barrier Reef adventures, beach time, and water sports of all kinds.

Hamilton Island has the best variety of Whitsunday resorts, from luxury adults-only properties to family-friendly apartments. Couples, honeymooners, and families head to Hayman Island for high-end pampering, and lovely Long Island hosts two intimate boutique resorts, including a five-star all-inclusive eco-resort. Families will love Daydream Island.

For a truly unique Whitsunday holiday, book an underwater suite or luxury glamping experience right on the Great Barrier Reef. It's an experience you'll never forget.

Prefer to stay on the mainland and take day trips to the islands? Choose a resort in Airlie Beach, the gateway to all the top things to do in the Whitsunday Islands.

Before you go, check for Whitsunday resort packages, and research your options with our list of the best resorts in the Whitsundays, Queensland.

Best Whitsunday Island Resorts

1. qualia Resort, Hamilton Island

Photo Source: qualia Resort

Accommodation: qualia Resort

Five-star qualia Resort is the best Hamilton Island resort and one of the best resorts in Australia.

Sublime views of the Coral Sea and Whitsunday Islands steal the show at this adults-only resort, shimmering through floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the building.

Jaw-dropping views continue in the rooms, All are freestanding pavilions, with stylish, sleek accents; polished wood floors; and private terraces. Choose from the Leeward Pavilions, with bush and sea views; the Windward Pavilions, with private plunge pools; or the Beach House, with a private plunge pool and guesthouse.

Dining also takes place with mesmerizing sea views. Dine in the treetops or down by the beach. Chef John Kennedy creates mouthwatering concoctions using fresh Queensland produce.

In your spare time, you can bask by the infinity-edged pool, unwind with a Driftaway Sensory Journey at the holistic spa, book a snorkel or dive trip, take a scenic flight over Heart Reef, or play a round of golf at the island's 18-hole golf course.

Note that qualia is only for guests over the age of 16.

2. Elysian Retreat, Long Island

Elysian Retreat
Photo Source: Elysian Retreat

Accommodation: Elysian Retreat

Craving a barefoot luxury, back-to-nature escape? Eco-chic Elysian Retreat on tranquil Long Island is the haven you've been seeking. Best of all, you can stay here knowing you're minimizing your impact on the planet.

Billed as "beyond carbon neutral," this intimate adults-only boutique resort is completely powered by the sun, wind, and water. In fact, it's the first 100 percent solar-powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef.

Everything at 5-star Elysian Retreat is consciously crafted. Ethical wood furniture; cruelty-free body products made from native ingredients; and vegan, hypoallergenic bedding are some of the earth-friendly touches here.

But don't think you have to sacrifice luxury. Stylish and super comfy, the 10 thatched villas huddle amid native trees along the turquoise bay, with private decks and idyllic ocean views. Each villa comes with pillowy-soft beds, indoor and outdoor showers, fully stocked minibars, and textural design touches. All rooms come with TVs and air-conditioning, but most guests prefer the soundtrack of rustling palms and sloshing waves.

When it comes to dining, you're in for a treat: Elysian is one of the rare all-inclusive Whitsundays resorts — all your food and non-alcoholic drinks are included in the rate — and the resort's bespoke approach extends to the food. The mouthwatering meals are made with ingredients from the island's organic garden. Special dietary requirements are also accommodated, just let the resort know in advance of your stay.

Activities here are low-key, just like the vibe. Snorkel in the bay, slip into the silky-soft magnesium infinity pool, sail, paddle a kayak, or book bespoke treatments at the spa. Cooking lessons, yoga, nature walks, and board games round out the relaxing diversions.

You can also use the resort as a base for reef trips. Excursions include trips to Whitehaven Beach, Heart Reef helicopter tours, and golf on nearby Dent Island. And if you're feeling lazy, you can lounge about the resort, soak up the convivial vibe, and mingle with the other guests.

3. InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort
Photo Source: InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

Accommodation: InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort offers everything you need for a five-star holiday. This larger Whitsunday resort is a great place to stay if you're seeking a little more anonymity than the smaller, more intimate resorts offer. Honeymooners love this luxe hideaway.

Set around an exquisite slice of white-sand beach and a sprawling lagoon-style pool, the resort is reached via a luxury launch or helicopter, a fitting prelude to your pamper-filled stay.

You'll have several different accommodation options here — the resort has 168 rooms, suites, and villas in total. Choose from the Pool, Lagoon, or Beach wings, or opt for the new Beachfront Pavilions. In most of the rooms, sun streams in through floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, and views of the turquoise Coral Sea pop against a palette of neutral tones. Floating cabinets, white color schemes, and egg-shaped tubs give an airy, contemporary feel to the bright bathrooms.

Need more space? Book the three-bedroom Hayman Beach House or one of the two-story hilltop Hayman Residences for a truly sumptuous and private stay.

Dining options are equally varied, from the all-day-dining Pacific to the Mediterranean-influenced Amici, the poolside Aqua, and Pan-Asian-inspired Bam Bam. If you're craving some cozy couple time, book a private dining experience.

Activities abound on land and water here. Bask by the huge pool, which even has its own island; explore the hiking trails; play tennis; or unwind at the spa. Kids from 4 to 12 can keep busy at Planet Trekkers Kids Club.

4. Beach Club Hamilton Island

Beach Club Hamilton Island
Photo Source: Beach Club Hamilton Island

Accommodation: Beach Club Hamilton Island

If you're planning a romantic couples' getaway, 4.5-star Beach Club Hamilton Island is an idyllic adults-only resort on beautiful Catseye Beach. This is the perfect Whitsundays honeymoon resort.

Nestled amid tropical gardens, the 57 rooms here sit steps from the beach in a two-story building. Color schemes feature soothing neutrals with pops of shimmering blues that echo the ocean hues outside. Woven lampshades and sculptures add a textural element, and every room comes with a surround-sound TV and Wi-Fi.

Soak up the dreamy sea and island views, framed by coconut palms, from your private courtyard or balcony. Bathrooms feature large soaking tubs and separate showers.

Relaxing is easy at this beautiful resort. Bask on the beach or around the cobalt-hued oceanfront infinity pool (heated in winter).

Enjoy a free a la carte breakfast at the Beach Club restaurant, with gorgeous views over the pool and ocean. Lunch and dinner are served here, too.

Your stay here includes VIP return Hamilton Island Airport/Marina transfers and transport around Hamilton Island.

Other perks include complimentary use of paddle skis, snorkeling equipment, windsurfers, kayaks, and catamarans, and for those who enjoy a workout away from the water, a gym, and tennis and squash courts are available. Afterwards, soothe any sore muscles at the spa and sauna.

Keep an eye out for wallabies while you're exploring the island.

5. Daydream Island Resort

Daydream Island Resort
Photo Source: Daydream Island Resort

Accommodation: Daydream Island Resort

Daydream Island Resort truly is the kind of place you dream about. One of the best Whitsunday resorts for families, it sits on a tiny island but packs a punch for its size, with plenty of impressive family-friendly amenities.

Fresh from a $140-million investment in 2018 and 2019, this four-star resort has a unique feature: a Living Reef coral lagoon. Get up close to tropical reef fish, starfish, small sharks, rays, sea cucumbers, and other marine critters — you can view them in the Underwater Observatory or get even closer at the interactive touch pool. Kids can also sign up for educational activities with marine biologists.

Pool, garden, or ocean views greet you in the rooms and suites. They occupy three-story white-washed structures, and come with soothing neutral hues, comfy beds, and eco-friendly bath products. Some have private terraces or balconies, and the Vista Suite features a separate lounge and dining area and a fully equipped kitchen.

Choose from three restaurants, serving everything from Asian Fusion to modern Australian cuisine.

Daydream Island Resort's kids' club is the perfect spot for the kids to play while you enjoy some adult time. Sunbathe on the coral beach, snorkel in the shallows, book a facial at the spa, or walk through the rainforest and look for kangaroos and cockatoos. All non-motorized sports are free for guests, too, including kayaks and stand up paddleboards.

Planning a wedding? Daydream Island is a popular events venue, with plenty of space to host every type of celebration.

6. Palm Bay Resort, Long Island

Palm Bay Resort
Photo Source: Palm Bay Resort

Accommodation: Palm Bay Resort

Palm Bay Resort offers a taste of Bali in the Whitsundays. The resort lures nature lovers with its unique Balinese-style villas snuggled into a tranquil cove on Long Island's slender neck.

Unlike the all-inclusive Elysian Retreat in the south of Long Island, four-star Palm Bay Resort offers guests the chance to bring food from the mainland and prepare their own meals. But note: guests must be over the age of 16.

Accommodations cover options for couples and groups. Peeking out from behind clusters of palm trees, they all come with hammock-slung decks. Most villas offer beach access, and the luxury suites and houses are elevated to capture the sea breezes and beautiful bay views.

Beachfront bungalows come with kitchenettes in case you want to cater your own meals; choose from one- or two-bedroom configurations.

Don't want to cook your own meals? No problem. Curlews, the resort's restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner at relatively affordable prices considering the remote location.

Activities are low-key here. Besides trips to the Great Barrier Reef and nearby islands, you can snorkel in front of the resort, paddle around the cove on a kayak, hike the walking trails, book a treatment at the spa, practice yoga, and look for wallabies in the gardens. Cheeky wild cockatoos may also pay you a visit here.

Feeling lazy? Just curl up in a hammock with a good book — but the views of the glistening bay will try and steal your gaze.

7. Reef View Hotel, Hamilton Island

Reef View Hotel
Photo Source: Reef View Hotel

Accommodation: Reef View Hotel

If you're looking for hotel-style accommodation on Hamilton Island, the 4-star Reef View Hotel is a great choice. Families, couples, and groups of friends enjoy beautiful Coral Sea views from the common areas of this resort.

All 359 rooms are spacious and feature furnished balconies with either views of the Coral Sea or lush tropical gardens. Suites occupy the upper floors and include a full buffet breakfast.

Dining takes place at the Pool terrace restaurant, and you can book reef tours and island attractions at the tour desk.

Included in your stay are airport/marina shuttle bus transfers; use of non-motorized water sports equipment; Wi-Fi; and access to the spa, sauna, and tennis court.

A huge perk: Kids under 12 years stay and eat for free.

8. Palm Bungalows, Hamilton Island

Palm Bungalows
Photo Source: Palm Bungalows

Accommodation: Palm Bungalows

Palm Bungalows are the perfect little hideaways for families or couples who want the option to prepare their own food.

You're only a short stroll from the beach and pools here, but this three-star resort feels a little more private, nestled in lush gardens.

All 49 spacious freestanding bungalows peek out from behind palms. Inside, you'll find a contemporary coastal style. All come with king beds and single sofa beds for kids, as well as air-conditioning and ceiling fans. Kitchenettes with microwaves make preparing light meals easy.

Dine on your private porch, then curl up in your own hammock and take a lazy afternoon nap.

Away from the bungalows, you can soak up the sun on the beach, swim in the resort pools, and use the resort's non-motorized water sports equipment for free. A gym, spa, sauna, and tennis court are also available on-site.

Take advantage of the free island shuttle to explore the island.

Another perk here? Kids stay and eat free!

Best Airlie Beach Resorts

9. Pinnacles Resort, Airlie Beach

Pinnacles Resort
Photo Source: Pinnacles Resort

Accommodation: Pinnacles Resort

Perched on a hilltop in Airlie Beach, 5-star Pinnacles Resort offers luxury apartments with breathtaking Coral Sea views. It makes a great base for island adventures, with easy access down the hill to all the shops, restaurants, and attractions in town.

Families will love having the space to spread out here. Choose from one-, two-, or three-bedroom apartments. All come with well-equipped kitchens, huge open-plan living and dining rooms, and doors opening out onto massive decks.

Couples will love the huge hot tubs on the sprawling balconies, with sweeping views of the Coral Sea and islands. A gym and sauna are also on-site.

Everyone will love the inviting island- and ocean-view ozone-heated infinity pool, and the mesmerizing views here will be a highlight of your stay.

10. Peninsula Airlie Beach

Peninsula Airlie Beach
Photo Source: Peninsula Airlie Beach

Accommodation: Peninsula Airlie Beach

Peninsula Airlie Beach is the perfect choice for families and groups who want waterfront accommodation and the flexibility to cook their own meals. As its name suggests, this five-star apartment-style property sits on a fin-shaped peninsula and overlooks Abell Point Marina, where many reef trips depart. It's about a 20-minute walk from town.

Sophisticated, stylish, and flooded with natural light, the one- to four-bedroom apartments make a huge impact. Sparkling harbor views greet guests through sliding glass doors, and all the apartments have furnished balconies with sweeping views of the marina, the Coral Sea, and the Whitsunday Islands.

Typical features include separate media areas, full kitchens, laundries, and color schemes in bright white and cream with splashes of blue. Some suites have spa tubs. Pick of the bunch are the top-floor penthouse suites.

Amenities at the resort include a pool and free parking. Wi-Fi is free, and guests can walk to restaurants nearby.

Address: 144 Shingley Drive, Cannonvale, Airlie Beach, Queensland

11. Coral Sea Marina Resort

Coral Sea Marina Resort
Photo Source: Coral Sea Marina Resort

Accommodation: Coral Sea Marina Resort

Freshly renovated, the four-star Coral Sea Marina Resort offers striking sea views and a top location. Sitting on the scenic Bicentennial walkway, the resort is a short two-minute stroll from the restaurants and shops of Coral Sea Marina, a popular launching point for reef trips.

Walk less than 10 minutes in the other direction, and you are smack bang amid the restaurants, shops, and attractions of Airlie Beach town. It's the best of both worlds.

All the contemporary common areas are bright and beachy. Rooms follow the same design style and come in a range of configurations, from garden-view, ocean-view, and spa deluxe rooms to suites, apartments, and penthouses. Hammock-slung balconies, flat-screen TVs, and tea and coffee-making facilities are common features.

The Rocks restaurant serves up cuisine prepared with local produce and showcases the same turquoise sea views.

When you're not dining or out at the reef, you can tone in the waterfront gym, sprawl by the pool, or book a pampering treatment at the spa.

Address: 25 Oceanview Ave, Airlie Beach, Queensland

12. Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach

Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach
Photo Source: Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach

Accommodation: Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach

If you're looking for a more affordable Whitsunday resort, Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach is a great option. This four-star resort sits a little way out of town, about a five-minute drive away, but it offers good value for money and a free drop-off shuttle to the marinas.

Highlights at this family-friendly resort are the inviting central pool area and the friendly staff.

All the 160 rooms are clean and comfortable, with furnished balconies and views of the garden, pool, or coast.

Away from the rooms, you can dine inside or out at the resort's tropical restaurant, and choose from a buffet or a la carte menu.

On a hot day, the free-form pool is the top place to hang out. Free parking, BBQ facilities, and a gym round out the amenities here.

Address: 240 Shute Harbour Road, Cannonvale, Airlie Beach, Queensland

Staying on the Great Barrier Reef

ReefSleep & ReefSuite

ReefSleep, Cruise Whitsundays
ReefSleep | Photo Source: Cruise Whitsundays

ReefSleep and Reef Suite are by far the most unique places to stay in the Whitsundays.

As the name suggests, you actually sleep on the reef. Not directly, of course — you are perched over it on a platform more than two hours from shore. Think glamping in luxury swags (tents) under a blanket of billions of stars, but with gourmet food, hot showers, and one of the world's natural wonders right beneath you.

Your two-day ReefSleep experience begins with a cruise on a high-speed cat with Cruise Whitsundays. Upon arrival at the Reefworld pontoon, you'll have time to snorkel or dive the reef-splotched waters before you check into your double "luxury swags" dressed in soft white sheets and pillows.

In your spare time, you can look for turtles swimming in the crystal-clear water, sign up for a dive or guided snorkeling tour, take a ride on the semi-submersible, hover over Heart Reef in a helicopter, or watch the fish swimming by in the underwater observatory.

After hors d'oeuvres, watch the sun sink into the endless horizon, feast on a gourmet dinner, then stargaze at the spangled night sky.

The best thing about this adventure? After the day-trippers depart, guests have the entire reef to themselves to snorkel all afternoon and the following morning.

Cruise Whitsundays
Photo Source: Cruise Whitsundays

If you prefer a more luxurious experience, opt for the two-day ReefSuite experience, an underwater room at the pontoon, where you can lie in bed and view the parade of marine creatures through a huge picture window.

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