28 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

28 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

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Route & dates

28 days in Great Barrier Reef Itinerary

Start: Adelaide
Fly:  6​h 45​min
1
Whitsunday Island
— 1 night
+3
Fly + Drive + ferry + Drive:  9​h
2
Fraser Island
— 3 nights
+3
Drive + ferry + Drive + Fly:  9​h
3
Hamilton Island
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h
4
Airlie Beach
— 4 nights
Drive + ferry:  4​h 30​min
5
Magnetic Island
— 1 night
ferry:  30​min
6
Townsville
— 3 nights
7
Cairns
— 5 nights
8
Port Douglas
— 6 nights
shuttle + Fly:  6​h 15​min
End: Adelaide

1
night
Whitsunday Island

Whitsunday Island ©
For ratings, photos, traveler tips, and other tourist information, use the Whitsunday Island trip planner .

Adelaide to Whitsunday Island is an approximately 7-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or take a bus. Expect somewhat warmer evenings in Whitsunday Island when traveling from Adelaide in January, with lows around 26°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Wed) so you can travel to Fraser Island.

Things to do in Whitsunday Island

Parks Beaches Outdoors
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 2:
Highlights from your plan
Whitehaven Beach ©
Whitehaven Beach
Hill Inlet ©
Hill Inlet

3
nights
Fraser Island

Fraser Island ©
We've included these beaches for you: Seventy-Five Mile Beach and Indian Head. Visiting Sandy Cape Lighthouse and Champagne Pools will get you outdoors.

For maps, ratings, where to stay, and tourist information, you can read our Fraser Island planner .

Traveling by combination of flight, ferry, and car from Whitsunday Island to Fraser Island takes 9 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train, car, and ferry; or do a combination of bus, ferry, and car. In January, daily temperatures in Fraser Island can reach 36°C, while at night they dip to 24°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Sun) early enough to travel to Hamilton Island.

Things to do in Fraser Island

Parks Nature Beaches
Find places to stay Jan 2 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Lake McKenzie ©
Lake McKenzie
Seventy-Five Mile Beach ©
Seventy-Five Mile Beach
Eli Creek ©
Eli Creek

2
nights
Hamilton Island

A trip to Hamilton Island takes you to a car-free destination mostly covered in bushland.
Get in touch with nature at Scuba & Snorkeling and Hamilton Island Golf Club. And it doesn't end there: browse the exhibits of Hamilton Island Art Gallery, relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers, take a memorable tour with Alani Charters, and take in the waterfront activity at Hamilton Island Marina.

To find maps, traveler tips, where to stay, and more tourist information, read Hamilton Island trip planner.

Getting from Fraser Island to Hamilton Island by combination of car, ferry, and flight takes about 9 hours. Other options: do a combination of car, ferry, and bus. Traveling from Fraser Island in January, expect a bit warmer with lows of 28°C in Hamilton Island. Finish your sightseeing early on the 9th (Wed) to allow enough time to ride a ferry to Airlie Beach.

Things to do in Hamilton Island

Outdoors Tours Parks
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Hamilton Island Golf Club ©
Hamilton Island Golf Club
Alani Charters ©
Alani Charters

4
nights
Airlie Beach

Very much a town with an emphasis on the tropical lifestyle, Airlie Beach offers exotic surroundings with palm trees and charming, sandy beaches.
Visiting Scuba & Snorkeling and Cumberland Charter Yachts will get you outdoors. Above & Below Photography and Art Whitsunday Gallery & Shop are good opportunities to explore the local culture. On the 11th (Fri), spend a thrilling day on the water with a speed boat tour. Next up on the itinerary: get some thrills out on the water with a waterskiing or jet-skiing adventure, get a new perspective on things with Queensland Yacht Charters, and kick back and relax at Airlie Beach Lagoon.

To see more things to do, traveler tips, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Airlie Beach journey maker .

You can ride a ferry from Hamilton Island to Airlie Beach in an hour. In January, daily temperatures in Airlie Beach can reach 34°C, while at night they dip to 28°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Sun) to allow time to travel to Magnetic Island.

Things to do in Airlie Beach

Outdoors Tours Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 9 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Speed Boats Tours
Scuba & Snorkeling
Waterskiing & Jetskiing

1
night
Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island
On the 14th (Mon), take an in-depth tour of Magnetic Island Museum, step off the mainland to explore Magnetic Island Forts Walk, and then choose your vessel at Big Mama Sailing.

To see where to stay, more things to do, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read our Magnetic Island online tour planner .

Traveling by combination of car and ferry from Airlie Beach to Magnetic Island takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry; or do a combination of bus, train, and ferry. In January, daily temperatures in Magnetic Island can reach 37°C, while at night they dip to 29°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 14th (Mon) so you can catch the ferry to Townsville.

Things to do in Magnetic Island

Tours Outdoors Adventure
Find places to stay Jan 13 — 14:

3
nights
Townsville

Tucked snugly beneath a steep, craggy mount--known as Castle Hill--the vibrant city of Townsville is as picturesque as its backdrop.
Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Museum of Tropical Queensland and The Drill Hall Studio. Do your shopping at Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts and CoffeeWorks. There's lots more to do: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, take in the architecture and atmosphere at St James Cathedral, view the masterpieces at Pinnacles Gallery, and brush up on your military savvy at Army Museum North Queensland.

To find other places to visit, more things to do, and more tourist information, read Townsville journey builder .

Townsville is very close to Magnetic Island. In January, daytime highs in Townsville are 37°C, while nighttime lows are 29°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Thu) so you can travel to Cairns.

Things to do in Townsville

Outdoors Museums Parks
Find places to stay Jan 14 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
The Strand ©
The Strand
Museum of Tropical Queensland ©
Museum of Tropical Queensland

5
nights
Cairns

A neat, cosmopolitan city of shaded plazas and laid-back neighborhoods, Cairns serves as a popular base for exploration of the surrounding region and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as a center for watersport activities like surfing or waterskiing.
Step out of the city life by going to Scuba & Snorkeling and Nature & Wildlife Tours. Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Underart Gallery and Doongal Aboriginal Art. Next up on the itinerary: take a stroll around Tanks Arts Centre, buy something for everyone on your list at Smithfield Shopping Centre, hunt for treasures at Rusty's Market, and hike along Esplanade Boardwalk.

To see photos, maps, more things to do, and other tourist information, read Cairns trip itinerary planner.

You can fly from Townsville to Cairns in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. In January, daytime highs in Cairns are 37°C, while nighttime lows are 28°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Tue) so you can drive to Port Douglas.

Things to do in Cairns

Outdoors Shopping Tours

Side Trips

Smithfield Shopping Centre, Tanks Arts Centre
Find places to stay Jan 17 — 22:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Esplanade Boardwalk ©
Esplanade Boardwalk
Nature & Wildlife Tours

6
nights
Port Douglas

A holiday in Port Douglas balances an activity-filled getaway with plenty of opportunities to relax, thanks to its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and bustling beach life.
Give yourself a bit of retail therapy at Village Gallery and Sunday Market Port Douglas. Get in touch with nature at Scuba & Snorkeling and Four Mile Beach. Take a break from Port Douglas with a short trip to Palm Cove Beach in Palm Cove, about 42 minutes away. Spend the 24th (Thu) spotting exotic species with a safari tour. And it doesn't end there: relax in the rural setting at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, relax and rejuvenate at some of the top local wellness centers, savor the flavors at Mossman Saturday Market, and get great views at Flagstaff Hill Lookout.

For other places to visit, reviews, maps, and other tourist information, use the Port Douglas travel route builder app .

Getting from Cairns to Port Douglas by car takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a shuttle. In January, daytime highs in Port Douglas are 37°C, while nighttime lows are 28°C. On the 28th (Mon), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Port Douglas

Outdoors Wildlife Tours

Side Trips

Palm Cove, Mossman
Find places to stay Jan 22 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Scuba & Snorkeling
Safaris
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures ©
Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

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