Motorised Water Sports

Please note: The Whitsundays Plan of Management has been amended. Some of the information below may have changed. Please refer to the Whitsundays Plan of Management for further information.

To many of its visitors, the Marine Park represents a tranquil, serene getaway from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives. It also provides a fantastic setting to a variety of fun motorised water sports including jet-skiing, parasailing and water-skiing.

However, if you’re out on jet-skis or in powerboats with your clients, you need to be mindful of those visitors who have come from far and wide in search of a peaceful escape. What’s more, you should also be on the lookout for other Marine Park users – its animal ‘residents’. Your high-speed activities could scare marine animals and nesting birds from their breeding and feeding areas. Or, even worse, you may hit and injure one.

So, when your hand is on the throttle, please continue to exercise caution and observe the following practices at all times.

Responsible Reef Practices

In general

  • Staff should be qualified and trained in environmental awareness.
  • Staff should survey the reef area for marine animal activity (such as that of dolphins, whales, dugong, and turtles) before operating, or letting passengers operate, motorcraft.
  • Brief guests on proper motorcraft operating procedures, hazards, potential environmental impacts and best practices.

When operating motorcraft

  • Be considerate of the other reef users in the area – be aware of noise and wake. Take extra care if people are in the water.
  • Stay a safe distance away from people in the water.
  • Be on the lookout for marine animals (such as dolphins, turtles, dugongs) - reduce your speed and be especially alert in areas where these animals are known to occur, especially shallow seagrass beds and reefs.
  • Go slow near islands and cays, especially where seabirds are nesting or roosting.
  • Go slow near the coast, especially when you’re near popular beaches.
  • Never take the motorised water sports activity into shallow water (less than one metre) near reefs.
  • When travelling in shallow water, keep your watercraft in idle speed to minimise the stirring of sediments.
  • Avoid beaching or anchoring in sensitive areas such as corals, seagrass beds, and nesting sites.

When maintaining motorcraft

  • Check that the engines do not leak fuel or oil.
  • Conduct your vessel maintenance (for example, spray painting, oil changes, engine cleaning) on land.
  • Refuel on land, not on the water, to reduce the chance of spills.
  • Fit a propeller cowl to protect wildlife.
  • Use non-toxic antifoul (such as silicon-based and 2-pack epoxy paint) or no antifouling at all.


  • Please report all marine incidents and accidents, plus any stranded or dead marine animals.

Marine Parks Legal Requirements

  • You must not undertake motorised water sports in the Remote Natural Area.
  • In the Cairns Planning Area you may only undertake motorised water sports outside Locations (generally 500 metres away from reefs).
  • In the Hinchinbrook Planning Area you may only undertake motorised water sports in intensive use Locations and outside Locations, and speed and access restrictions apply around Significant Bird Sites.
  • In the Whitsunday Planning Area you may only undertake motorised water sports in the Designated Water Sports Area, Setting 1 areas and outside setting areas (1500 metres away from reefs or the coastline), and speed and access restrictions apply around Significant Bird Sites.
  • You must have a Marine Parks permit to undertake motorised water sports as part of a tourist program.