Beneath The Whitsundays


It is well known that above water, the 74 islands of the Whitsundays all have their own story.
Below the surface, each island has an equally fascinating story that is often overlooked at many of the lesser known Whitsunday Islands. Over the past 2 years, I have made it a mission to attempt to explore the underwater world of every Whitsunday Island. The aim, to document the locations where coral is most abundant and see which sites contribute the most to the ecology of the Marine Park.

After I heard that Cyclone Debbie had devastated one of my personal favourite snorkel sites, I decided to go on this mission to see where coral still remained in a healthy condition. And though it’s not yet evident at many of the sites of the Whitsundays, coral bleaching as a result of global warming and macro algae dominance caused by an increase of nutrients in the water, remain a threat to the future off the regions reef habitats.

Starting at my home at Daydream Island, my first snorkel after the storm was off east side of the island. This spot always had high coral diversity which made this one of the most nerve racking snorkel entries of my life. Expecting to see nothing but devastation, I was relieved to find that a significant section
of the eastern fringing reef was mostly intact. This sparked an urge to see which other fringing reefs still thrived. The obvious place to start was the other islands in the Molle Group. After a few trips over the channel, I was again surprised to find undamaged coral cover at a number of spots including on North Molle (south), Mid Molle (north and east) and South Molle (east). Unfortunately, a lot of coral cover was lost at a favourite site on the north side of Planton Island but luckily, South Molle Island protected the west side of the small island which was almost all undamaged. Today the west side of Planton Island is still one of the areas with the highest percentage of coral cover in the region.

After exploring the Molle group and finding promising coral cover, it was time to branch out and investigate the Northern Group. An island group of the Whitsundays that doesn’t really jump out as a snorkel destination. This area previously had a few stand out snorkel spots with a lot of hard coral cover surrounding the islands. At first glance, it was clear that many of these sites had been badly damaged by storm waves, but after looking a little beyond the obvious spots, significant coral cover was found at Edwin Rocks, Olden Island (south) and Armit Island (south). Today Olden Island is one of my favourite locations to explore stony coral gardens and get that off the beaten track feel. Following the missions up north, the more well known Whitsunday Group needed exploring. This is where you can find the majority of the more popular snorkel spots in the Whitsundays. It was really tough seeing a couple of the iconic sites stripped back to only a few boulder corals. After looking around in some of the more protected areas, the resilience of these islands was soon evident. Some of the protected bays on the east and west sides of these islands were in close to perfect condition. Two areas that stood out were Butterfly Bay off Hook Island and the fringing reef off Cairn Beach, Whitsunday Island. Other islands in this group where healthy coral reef was observed included Hayman Island (south-east), Black Island (east), Border Island (south-east), Dumbell Island (northeast) Haselwood Island (south and east), Teague Island (north) and Lupton Island (south). It’s only been two years since the storm and at a number of these locations its already hard to identify any previous damage.

The final frontier of this mission was the Lindeman Group. The most southern group of the Whitsundays that generally takes a bit more planning and a bit more research to find coral cover. Over the years, the fringing reefs off some of these islands have suffered from an increase in macro algae, likely due to excess nutrient runoff from the mainland. To select each site, it was important to ensure the location received fresh ocean currents that promote coral growth, so it would be less likely to be dominated by algae. After a number of trips down south, the most healthy reef sections found were off Lindeman Island (south), Seaforth Island (east), Maher Island (south-west), Shaw Island (west), Brush Island (east), Mansell Island (south-west), Keyser Island (south) and pockets of reef with impressive bommies at Thomas Island. With most islands explored it is already clear that the Whitsundays still has wide spread
coral cover with many spots thriving. After the region suffered significant coral loss at some of the iconic sites in early 2017, the remaining corals are now fighting back. These colonies are vital for local spawning events which should eventually repopulate the areas that have lost cover. We should note the recovery and longevity of these complex ecosystems around our islands depend primarily on water quality, which ultimately depends on us.

The Great Barrie Reef located in the Whitsunday, Queensland, Australia

Why Our Guests Keep Coming Back

14 The Cove - Waterfront Whitsunday Home
The view is sensational! Such a relaxing property. Great size/space. We spent our whole stay watching boats go past, spotting turtles and soaking up the sun with a cold beverage.
May 23, 2022
Day Dreaming at Mazlin House
Incredible house for larger groups, incredible views and great location 😍 Will stay again for sure
May 23, 2022
Amazing Whitsundays Penthouse lifestyle at Reflections
Great communication from the hosts, always so accomodating letting us store baggage after check out. Incredible apartment with amazing views - jacuzzi and pool were amazing. Couldn’t recommend more.
May 23, 2022
Marina living with Whitsundays lifestyle @ the Boathouse
Amazing apartment in the best location in Airlie! Loved our stay and will be back.
May 23, 2022
Amazing Whitsunday Views @ High Tide
It’s an amazing house in a great location. It’s a little out of Airlie central, but that kind of makes it if you have a good group who don’t expect or want to go out for every meal (but even still it’s a short cab ride in to town)
May 22, 2022
23 The Cove - Whitsunday Waterfront Living
A well appointed and beautiful home in a convenient location. We loved everything about our stay here, especially the pool and view from the backyard. Highly recommended.
May 22, 2022
Executive Whitsunday Penthouse @ 40 Reflections
This was our last stop on our honeymoon and it was absolutely stunning! We did not leave the property for two whole days (enjoyed the pool table, swimming and the beautiful views). It was about a 4 minute drive to Airlie beach (a $10 cab fare). The seafood platter at Fish D’vine was exceptional and the pasta/pizza at Lamarina was beautiful (a 5 minute walk from the main esplanade- quiet, romantic and peaceful). Would love to come back here!!!!! A memorable home
May 22, 2022
Executive living with amazing marina views
Highly recommended, great location beautiful apartment. Only thing to be aware of is taxis are hard to get at the airport, shuttle bus is recommended. But key to apartment requires a taxi to collect and drop off again as it is not located onsite.
May 22, 2022
23 The Cove - Whitsunday Waterfront Living
Great place Great location
May 20, 2022
Marina Views @ The Boathouse
Great spot, super convenient and wonderful place
May 19, 2022
14 The Cove - Waterfront Whitsunday Home
Great location if you like to see water and boats. The water views make you feel like you are on a cruise ship.
May 17, 2022
Relax & Daydream @ 2 Elementa
This accommodation is very well presented and extremely clean. Everything you need is there. The taxis are prompt and it is less than $10 to get to the main street. Communication by the owners is fantastic with lots of recommendations for activities and restaurants. We will most definitely be back.
May 17, 2022
Endless panoramic views of the Whitsundays @ 333
Location is amazing, Clean and the view is stunning. Could not fault the accommodation and the images don't do it justice.
May 17, 2022
Marina Views @ The Boathouse
Lovely apartment with great facilities and perfect location
May 16, 2022
Shutehaven Villa
Beautiful home, exceptionally presented, stunning views, soo peaceful 😊great experience with communication with the host. Can not fault my experience with this home ❤️
May 16, 2022
The Point @ Peninsula - Waterfront living
Great location, great view of the. Super yachts and the Marina . Close to restaurants. An easy walk to town and the lagoon swimming pools . A very nice unit suitable for 4 people or a family ..
May 16, 2022
Endless panoramic views of the Whitsundays @ 333
This is a great place to stay! Everything you need with a view to die for. The hosts are so lovely and helpful. Would definitely stay again!
May 12, 2022
Executive living with amazing marina views
Great apartment. Definitely call ahead to ensure smooth check-in. sit back, relax and enjoy!
May 9, 2022
Marina Views @ The Boathouse
Amazing location, stunning apartment! 🙃
May 9, 2022
Executive Whitsunday Penthouse @ 40 Reflections
Absolutely loved our stay here! Perfect size for a family or a small group of friends for a r&r getaway. The views are magnificent. The Penthouse is central to everything. 2min in a car to Woolies or Main St. Plenty of space and the rooftop deck with private pool, lounge and pool table, is the cherry on top! Have already saved this property and it will be our go-to for all our future Whitsunday island getaways!
May 9, 2022

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