The Whitsundays is one of the most highly visited regions in the Great Barrier Reef; recognised for its spectacular island scenery, secluded sandy beaches, remarkable blue waters and vast array of wildlife. The Whitsunday Planning Area includes waters from Cape Gloucester in the north to the Repulse Islands in the south. It also includes the Whitsunday Islands, Lindeman Islands and the Hardy Reef Unit.
If you are visiting the area as a recreational user please use the Guide to visiting the Whitsundays for recreational users. The guide provides information and maps about what you can do and where you can go in the Whitsundays.
What is the Whitsundays Plan of Management?
Used as a key tool by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Whitsundays Plan of Management 1998 helps protect and conserve the Whitsunday Planning Area while allowing for a range of experiences and uses. The Plan applies to everyone accessing the area. The Plan of management complements zoning in the Whitsundays by addressing issues specific to the area.
On 18 September 2020, the State of Queensland through the Department of Environment and Science accredited the Whitsundays Plan of Management. The Gazette Notice including details of the accreditation can be viewed on the Department of Environment and Science website. Essentially, the provisions of the Plan now also apply to the Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park adjoining the Whitsunday Planning Area including settings, significant bird site exclusions and scenic flight height restrictions. The accreditation of the Plan does not change how visitors and commercial operators use the Whitsunday Planning Area as the Marine Parks are jointly and complementarily managed.
Resources for visitors
A range of maps and guides have been produced to assist in understanding how to use the Whitsundays.
- Map 1 - Whitsundays Plan of Management - Detailed Overview (PDF and JPEG versions)
- Map 2 - Whitsundays Plan of Management - Motorised water sports areas (PDF and JPEG versions)
- A guide to visiting the Whitsundays for recreational users including setting access limits, no-anchoring areas, public moorings, zoning, boating, motorised water sports and other activities.
- Superyacht Guide to the Whitsundays (A guide for visitors using superyachts)
- Spearfishing factsheet information and map about where you are allowed to spearfish in the Whitsunday Planning Area.
Due to the popularity and concentration of use of the area, the Plan includes additional requirements for tourism operations within the region. Tourism operators should refer to their permit and the Plan for more information.
Review of the Whitsundays Plan of Management 1998
The Authority reviews and amends the Plan to reflect new information and the changing use of tourism and recreation in the area. Amendments to the Plan have occurred in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2017.
The following documents provide information on the latest amendments:
- Whitsundays Plan of Management 1998
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983
- Summary of comments: Whitsundays Plan of Management review (Word and PDF versions)
- Factsheet (key points of the updated Plan, steps taken since tropical cyclone Debbie, and key actions to be done in the Whitsundays)
- Factsheet 2 (Update 2) (details the amendments of the Plan that commenced 1 January 2018 - definition of a year, significant bird sites and aircraft taxiing at Whitehaven Beach)