We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

Hong Kong, null...
5 posts
Save Topic
GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?


My husband and I are planning a 2 week trip from HK to the east coast of Australia in Feb. We plan to spend 5 days in Melbourne + Sydney and about 10 days along Gold Coast up north. I am keen to visit Gold Coast, Fraser Island, Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef. We are not the best divers, so dont intend to spend too much time diving. Can you pls help with the below questions

1) Should we visit the GBR from Cairns or from the Whitsundays? Given we have only 10 days, do we have the time to do the GBR from Cairns rather than from Whitsundays? How different is the GBR from both places?

2) How many days do we need in Fraser Island and Whitsundays considering both cases - doing GBR from Cairns vs doing from Whitsundays?

3) What is the best way to explore the Fraser Island? Do we need to book a tour? How many days?

4) Should we book the tours (Fraser Island as well as Whitsundays)in advance or can we get last minute deals at the beach?

Thank you all !


Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
40 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

Anyone will tell you (and you can see on some maps) that Cairns is the closest to and therefore best place to visit the GBR from.

I've never been to Fraser Island (sorry)

I have been to Whitsundays (twice) but not that impressed, however there is a beach there made with purest white sand (Shoalhaven I think it's called).

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
Level Contributor
30,038 posts
1,381 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

Another vote for Cairns over the Whitsundays. There is more to do & see in the Cairns region. The Whitsundays are beautiful but IMO its better seeing the reef from Port Douglas / Cairns.

You will need to organise a tour to Fraser Island. There are plenty available from Hervey Bay. I would wait to book when you arrive in HB. You can do a day tour or stay overnight.

Its still stinger season in Feb in Nth Qld. - www.marinestingers.com.au

Simon R the beach is called Whitehaven Beach.

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
70 posts
193 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

You have not told us what you're interested in doing in each of the areas you want to visit and whether you are hiring a car or flying as this will affect the time you have in each area. In any event, unless you're into theme parks I'd give the Gold Coast a miss and spend my time doing Hervey Bay/Fraser Island and Cairns/Port Douglas area. I recommend you book direct with the tour operator either on line or when you arrive in town. Some have last minute deals but not too often.

Darwin, Australia
Destination Expert
for Darwin
Level Contributor
4,887 posts
92 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

Suggest you book your Fraser island trip prior. It can get very busy.

If you stay at the resort on the island, say two nights, you can do two different day tours which would enable you to see quite a few parts of the island. Google resort on Fraser island- the bane escapes me at present, but it would be a better base for you and not the more basic accom on the eurong beach side.

Fraser island is spectacular and a fun/ but bumpy adventure. Definitely worth two nights.

Would you fly or drive between gogold coast, and Hervey bay?

If you want to comibe a beach / resort / pool part of the trip, I would suggest either Hayman island or Hamilton. You can do a good day trip to the reef from here. I have done both snorkeling from po Douglas and whitsundays and would re ommend either.

However, if you want to visit other attractions in cairns or port Douglas like the kuranda railway etc, I would then suggest cairs and access the reef from there.

Hong Kong, null...
5 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

Thank you all...

Ellemay - Thanks for the link on the stingers....def something to watch out

Linda, Hamiriver - I plan to travel by road up north from Brisbane, as we plan to stop at Fraser, Noosa (optional) and Whitsundays before we head to Cairns (if we do). On our way back, we'll fly. Does that leave us enough time for Cairns? Also for travelling by road, what do you recommend out of hiring a car vs travelling by greyhound buses?

Thanks for your tips on Fraser and Hamilton Island - very helpful

6. Re: GBR from Cairs vs Whitsundays?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 5:15 am, September 11, 2013
Get answers to your questions about Great Barrier Reef