This modest port facility in a stunning setting gives access to the world-famous Whitsunday Islands with dream-like beaches, colorful reefs and relaxing resorts.
Quiet Shute Harbour is idyllically located in a sheltered bay, just southeast of bustling Airlie Beach. Its jetty is a common departure point for trips to the world-famous Whitsunday Islands.
Come here for the views, set sail to a vacation resort on Hamilton Island, join a cruise, charter a yacht or swim in the ocean. If you have your own boat with you, you can also go out into the bay. Use the public boat ramp and park your trailer on site. Alternatively, rent a kayak and head out onto the turquoise bay. At the outgoing tide, throw a line in to catch a squid or reef fish for a meal.
The direct ferry to Hamilton Island, home to some of the most popular hotels and resorts in the Whitsundays, runs twice in the early morning and once in the late afternoon and the trip takes about half an hour. “Hammo,” as the locals call the island, is fringed by coral reefs making it a diving and snorkeling paradise.
Shute Harbour is more than just a port and ferry stop. There is a small residential community and accommodations such as hotel rooms, vacation homes and apartments on the hill with breathtaking views of the bay.
Before you leave, drive to the lookout point on the hill to watch cruise ships and sailing boats come and go in the harbor below. An easy walk leads through the rainforest to Coral Beach, less than a mile (1 kilometer) away. From the beach's southeastern end you can climb up to The Beak lookout point for an even better view of the Whitsundays. Also don’t miss the other natural attractions around this small port. The Cedar Creek Falls, about halfway between Airlie Beach and Proserpine, are sure to impress.
To get to Shute Harbour, head southeast from Airlie Beach. The road winds through Conway National Park, a lowland rainforest area full of walking trails and picnic areas. From its car parks, follow the well-marked trails and hike up to the various lookout points for stunning views of the Whitsunday Islands.
Note that parking fees apply in the Shute Harbour car park if you are heading out to the islands for a day or more. Its undercover parking station can also fit boats, boat trailers and caravans.