For a sailing holiday where you get to cruise through calm crystal-clear waters before mooring up at luxury resorts and trying amazing activities, the Whitsunday Islands make for the dream destination. Head to this Australian archipelago and you'll find plenty of things to see and do, all while you soak up the country's glorious sunshine.
As the region benefits from a sub-tropical climate, you can take a yacht break here at any time of year and enjoy blissful temperatures. Before you set sail though, it's worth considering which exact islands you're going to sail to. With some 74 isles in the Whitsundays, there's plenty of scope for exploration and to have a luxurious holiday.
If you're hoping to incorporate an element of luxury into your sailing holiday in Australia, Long Island is somewhere you should certainly visit. Although it is fairly small, with its widest point stretching just 400 m, you'll find lots to keep you busy.
Of course, you may be tempted to do little more than nestle down on a golden sandy beach and stare out at the Pacific Ocean, but it's a good idea to check out some of the island's other activities and attractions. Take a walk along the 20 km network of hiking trails that go through bushland and you'll get to see an array of plants and wildlife, with the former consisting of creatures such as koalas.
Visit the island's sole resort - which is also called Long Island - to enjoy a relaxing swim in the pool or a message and beauty treatment at the spa centre. You can also play games of tennis and mini golf, while the kids' club will ensure holidaymakers of all ages are kept entertained.
With Hamilton Island being the largest isle in the Whitsundays, you ought to find there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy high-end attractions and activities. The Beach Club restaurant serves modern Australian cuisine made with seasonal, organic ingredients, while mooring at the Hamilton Island Yacht Club features stunning aquamarine copper sails designed by Australian architect Walter Barda.
One popular draw for many visitors to the island is the opportunity to try a range of water sports, with lessons offered in windsurfing and kayaking, among other active pursuits. The Whitsundays are located at the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef in the world, so the isle is also a fantastic destination for diving and snorkelling enthusiasts. Pull on a mask and snorkel to take the plunge in the waters lying off Catseye Beach and you'll soon be surrounded by colourful fish and intricate coral formations.
However, it's just as easy to connect with nature back on dry land, especially as more than two-thirds of the isle is a designated national park. Visiting the Wild Life Hamilton Island reserve is a great way to see some of Australia's most famous animals, including wallabies, koalas and kookaburras, up close.
Adjacent to Hamilton, on Dent Island, is the championship-quality Hamilton Island Golf Club. This par 71 18-hole course was designed by Australian golf legend Peter Thomson and, as you play, you'll have the opportunity to take in panoramic views.
While Hook Island is the second largest isle in the archipelago, the fact the majority of its terrain is protected national parkland means it is mostly unspoilt. As such, you'll have plenty of scope to explore pristine natural paradises - both on land and underwater - including Aboriginal cave shelters.
If you're a snorkelling or diving enthusiast, make sure you head to Manta Ray Bay. Situated at the north-west of the island, this is one of the region's most popular dive spots and, as you swim, you'll pass by hard and soft coral formations, as well as an intricate array of caves and tunnels. Come here in the winter months and you can spot manta rays, humphead wrasse and other exotic creatures.
At the Pinnacles, a dive site commonly regarded as one of the best in the Whitsundays, you can swim down to a depth of 15 m. Manta rays are a common sight if you visit during May and September, while large porite corals are to be spotted all year round. You might even catch a glimpse of whitetip reef sharks, a sight you're sure to never forget.