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Yacht Hire Whitsundays | Hire your own yacht on the Great Barrier Reef

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yacht hire whitsundays

Yacht hire Whitsundays

How often have you gazed wistfully at one of those travel shows on TV of a fancy yacht gliding through the crystal blue waters of Mediterranean, circling some exotic Greek Island?  Or what about the glossy magazines or travel stories in the weekend newspapers that beckon you to book a cruise or go sailing?  For many, these types of adventures are just a dream, either for financial reasons or because you don’t have the courage or confidence to charter one yourself.

In the Whitsundays, an area known for its archipelago of islands that surround the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia, you can truly live this dream.  Here you can cruise by day, and moored by an island in the evening.  You can eat fabulous food, enjoy a glass of champagne, or jump overboard into waters that are great for swimming all year round.  The best thing of all is that you can do this all at your own pace, captaining your own luxury boat in one of the most incredible locations in the world.  Let me introduce you to the world of bareboating where you can have a dream yacht charter or hire a sailing boat or yacht all by yourself.

What is bareboating?

The secret lies in the word “bare” and refers to the fact that you can hire a boat to sail in the Whitsundays all by yourself.  There’s no captain or crew, just yourself and whoever else you choose to travel with.  You can choose your boat from a wide range on offer with gobareboating.com, then the rest is up to you in terms of who with, how long and where to.

Still thinking that this is not a possible option because you don’t have a boat licence?  Having a boat licence myself, I thought this would have been a must, but it’s not.  Going bareboating is possible without a boat licence, but you will need some common sense and you will need to listen to all the advice given to you at the time of hiring.  Boating experience is, of course, going to be extremely helpful, especially if you have thoughts about hiring a sailing boat.

driving the boat
My turn to take the helm

Despite being able to charter the boats yourself, you can also elect to hire a captain if you would prefer.  This comes at an additional cost but there are several other benefits.  The unique, private experience of cruising the Whitsundays is still there, but just with a little more help.  If you are anxious in any way about being at the helm yourself, this takes that anxiety away.  It also means that you are free to be able to sit back and relax and enjoy everything about this wonderful place.

the girls on the boat

Which yacht can I hire?

There is a large range of beautiful boats available through gobareboating.com.  Through this portal,  five charter companies that operate from the mainland provide some exquisite boats for charter.  When I look at all the boats available, it takes me back to days as a kid, going to boat shows and looking at all the super expensive boats and wondering who on earth could ever afford to own one.  With the bareboating experience, I don’t worry so much about that anymore, but I’m ever so thankful to those that do allowing their vessels to be hired out to strangers like me.

power cruise go bareboating

Did you know that gobareboating.com is the largest floating hotel in Australia?  With over 143 boats and 1,209 beds, there’s plenty of options to sleep out on the water, 365 days a year.  It might seem obvious to point out, but all of them come with an ocean view!

Size of boat

Choosing the size of the boat will depend on whether you are planning on sharing the bareboating experience with friends or family, or whether you are going to go it alone.  It will also depend on how much space you want and what facilities you prefer. The number of private cabins and ensuites required, for example, might be an important factor.

bedroom in the cabin
An example of a cabin onboard a power yacht

Equipment on board

All boats contain a fully stocked kitchen, maps and charts, bed linen, TV and iPod connections so you can play your music for your onboard party.

preparing food in the kitchen
The fully equipped kitchen and dining area

Snorkelling gear is also provided as there are so many opportunities to get into the water and explore.  Additional watercraft, such as kayaks and stand up paddle boards can also be hired.

water activities

There’s also a tender which is essential for getting into the islands and to key locations for snorkelling and swimming.  If you are travelling with a group of friends in several boats, it’s also the perfect access for getting to each boat.  Safety equipment is also provided as you would expect.



As someone who likes to prepare great food, this is one of the best parts.  There is a choice!  If you hate food preparation or just don’t have the time to get organised, there are dedicated companies based out of Airlie Beach who can do all of the provisioning for you.  Whitsundays Provisioning can provide amazing food for your entire hire period, based on your requirements.  You can order food for every meal for the whole charter, or partial provisioning (eg dinner only).

Alternatively, you can do it all yourself, saving yourself some money and allowing you to cook up some amazing food at sea.  The local supermarkets also make it easy for you by delivering to the marina prior to your departure.

captain cooked food on bareboat - yacht hire whitsundays
Fresh fish cooked ourselves

Before you go bareboating in the Whitsundays

A thorough assessment of the proposed captain’s skills will be undertaken prior to the team at the yacht charter setting you loose on the water.  A comprehensive briefing will also be undertaken and someone from the charter company will actually be on board with you for the first half of the first day at sea.  They are there to make sure that everyone has enough skill and confidence to deal with anything that might arise whilst you are away from the marina.

Whilst you don’t need a licence, the charter company will exercise their right to deny the hire should they be concerned in any way for the safety of those on board.  It doesn’t happen regularly, but it does happen where potential hirers have been refused.  Radio contact is also made by the charter company twice a day to ensure everything is on track.

How to get to the Whitsundays

The most common way to get to the Whitsundays is via Proserpine and the Whitsunday Coast Airport.  Alternatively, Hamilton Island also has an airstrip.  Ferries provide regular access to and from the mainland.

Bareboating in the Whitsundays

The Whitsundays is a water playground for everyone, not just the rich and famous.  Long known as an area that lures everyone from backpackers, to families, couples to the financially independent, there’s something for everyone in this region.  Bareboating is one of those incredibly unique experiences that can be enjoyed by so many, from all walks of life.  Now that I’ve done it, my thoughts go to who would like to join me on the next aquatic adventure?  The hardest decision will be choosing a boat as I know I won’t have any problem enticing people to come with me.

You can add another unique experience to your list whilst in the Whitsundays.  Read about my night sleeping under the stars at Hardy Reef on the Great Barrier Reef.


Beer and Croissants was a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland.  As always, all editorial content, images and opinions are entirely our own.

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