Where to find the best bareboat charter in the Whitsundays

Discover a place where white sand swirls through crystalline waters and wildlife thrives beneath the waves with a bareboat charter in the Whitsundays. 

Wake with the sun and have a morning dip in the turquoise waters of your anchorage, explore pristine beaches and exotic islands during the day, and go to sleep with a lullaby of water lapping on the hull. This is the reality of a bareboat charter in the Whitsundays with Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays

This spectacular part of Queensland is a cluster of green-topped islands peppering azure waters and surrounded by myriad coral atolls flanked by coral of all colours and a rainbow assortment of fish. Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays is the way to go for your island wanderings, allowing you to set your own agenda, throw your work-based timetable out the window and dive into this spectacular, picture-perfect part of the world. 

Who is Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays?

From the moment you arrive at the Gold Anchor-rated Coral Sea Marina at Airlie Beach, you can tell that Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays is different. More immersive. Cultural. The team respects the waters of Ngaro, its history, people and the land that has flourished for millennia. From the meaningful Welcome to Country upon arrival, to your tour around your boat, your bareboat charter in the Whitsundays is an elevated experience.

A bareboat charter in the Whitsundays to see Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach is a popular stop on a sailing trip with Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays © Tempus Media

The best experience in Queensland

Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays was named ‘Best Queensland Experience’ at the Tourism Whitsundays awards in October 2023 – a well-deserved accolade. What makes it so popular is that it is the only company permitted to sail to all 74 islands in the Whitsundays region. Why anchor in an idyllic bay with a party of other yachts when you can sail further to islands they cannot go and have the bay to yourself, feeling the spirituality of nature and the Ngaro past. You can also feel content that this bareboat charter in the Whitsundays is a sustainable tourism-accredited experience, carbon neutral, and holds Climate Action, Recognition of Culture and Advanced Ecotourism certifications.

What is a bareboat charter?

A bareboat charter is the self-skippered hire of a vessel. That is, hiring a boat that is supplied without a crew. A bareboat charter in the Whitsundays allows you to sail your own itinerary, at your own pace, on a private sailing catamaran. 

Catamaran bareboat charter Whitsundays
Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays © Tempus Media

What are the requirements for a bareboat charter in the Whitsundays? 

The seven-strong fleet of luxury catamarans is available for bareboat charter in the Whitsundays for novice and experienced sailors alike. Better yet, visitors don’t need a boat license or sailing experience to skipper these 38- to 45-foot vessels, with an extensive briefing supplied. From navigation, boat handling and water safety to anchoring, mooring, motoring and more, the pre-departure training takes you onto the water for a full maritime briefing – it is not a lot of theory on the dock. Additional support is also available for bareboat charter first-timers to ensure you are comfortable at the helm. 

Once you set off, the wind in your sails and the salty air in your face, feel the burden of stress and responsibility slip away on the tide. The yachts have three or four cabins and come with coffee machines for that oh-so-enjoyable morning coffee on the bow, and ice makers for that sunset beverage to end the day. With a bareboat charter in the Whitsundays, you can spend your time swimming, snorkelling or spotting marine life, with the only decisions required upon these soul-soothing voyages where to go, which bay to anchor in, and when to stop for lunch.

The light and airy saloon on SV Lawless
The light and airy saloon on SV Lawless © Nicolas Claris

What to expect on a bareboat charter in the Whitsundays 

Bareboat charter sailings are six-day, five-night journeys that traverse the beautiful bays, and you are free to curate your own itinerary. Tick off the hotspots by mooring at Whitehaven, walking along its squeaky sands and taking in the view from Hill Inlet. As for where else you go, don’t follow the charter crowd, talk to the helpful team at Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays before you depart and they will have some suggestions depending on what you are seeking. 

Humpback whales transit through the warm waters from June to September for breeding season, and dwarf minke whales are known to pass through, too. Bottlenose dolphins are found in the region year-round, and it is highly likely you will see them playing in your wake. To further enrich your sailing vacation, Portland Roads Sailing the Whitsundays supports Australia’s Indigenous people by elevating their voices and sharing their stories. The Whitsundays is home to seven Indigenous tribes and the company supports initiatives that bring better understanding between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and the community. Operating with the blessing of the local Ngaro, visitors are invited to forge a deeper connection between self, sea and land. You will feel it deep in your soul, in the land and in the sea. What are you waiting for? The islands of the Whitsundays are waiting, with fair winds and blue skies. 

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This article originally appeared in volume 121 of Vacations & Travel magazine. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the newsletter below.