The Whitsundays is one of those iconic Aussie bucket list places that you find yourself dreaming about during difficult days at the office (or is that just us?). Crystalline turquoise waters with silica sand, blue skies stretching out to the horizon meeting the bluest of oceans. If heaven were a place on earth, the 74 islands surrounding the hub of Airlie beach would be be a destination-contender.
So when we found out we were invited to the Whitsundays wedding of the year, the nuptials of Josh and Josh, we found ourselves getting our Gloria Gaynor on and packing light ahead of what would be the loveliest celebration of marriage equality in an equally picturesque setting.
Now before we go any further, we’d be remiss in not mentioning Cyclone Debbie. The category 4 cyclone tore through the region in March/April of 2017 and wreaked significant and heartbreaking destruction. Hayman and Daydream islands were most heavily damaged and are still out of operation at the time this article was written. But we’re not going to mention Cyclone Debbie again and for good reason: she doesn’t deserve the air time. Ask any Airlie local and they’ll tsk away any sympathy. This isn’t an article about Cyclone Debbie or even the resilience of the region (which is unwavering) but rather why you should put the Whitsundays on your wedding radar.
Considering we were heading to the region in winter we didn’t expect to be spending our days lazing in the pristine waters of Whitehaven beach, or swimming with swarms of trevally or even exploring coral on nearby islands. But that’s exactly what we did. Winter days sit around 25 degrees so you can still splash around in the water without feeling a chill. For our week adventure we were met by barely a cloud in the sky. What does all this meteorological info mean to you? Cheaper rates in the winter low season but expect some of the best weather of the year.
One of the most surprising things about the Whitsundays is that you can very easily have the best of both ocean and bush, and no venue owns that quite like Earlando.
Situated between Airlie Beach and Hideaway Beach, the drive into Earlando is an experience in itself. Suddenly you’ve left the quaint coastal towns and gone outback. Spinifex and red dirt marks the side of the road as you make your way into the 6,000 acre private property. Event Coordinator (and all round boss lady) Hannah Mooney greets us and introduces us to baby calf Max before settling down under the most magnificent tipi-covered garden picnic. Hannah explains there’s not much the venue can’t do with such a blank canvas as Earlando – tipi, marquee or under the stars, there’s a reception space to suit your style. With it’s own private beach and helipad, you can arrive or depart via sea or sky, so naturally we opted for a trip in the helicopter which took us to our next hot spot; Paradise Cove Resort.
Arriving via helicopter left us cackling like a gaggle of lunatics over our good fortune. Our trusty pilot from GSL Aviation even caught some of our contagious excitement after he pointed out a manta ray swimming in the turquoise waters below. Arriving into Paradise Cove allowed us to see a birds-eye view of the 4,000 acres of the property; white sands at the front, lush tropical landscape at the back (and also the location of the Joshua’s wedding). The resort offers a variety of accommodation options for up to 32 guests (and has some unique ‘flash-packing’ options too) so you and your guests can settle on site.
For those looking in Airlie Beach, the luxurious apartments of Mirage Whitsundays could be a nice option for an intimate ceremony. These serviced apartments offer some seriously large and lux spaces to make you feel like royalty on your special day. Options start with three-bedroom apartments and go up to four-bedroom penthouses. Waterfront villas come with your very own grand piano and a kitchen suitable for a Masterchef contestant. Each offering comes with uninterrupted water views and for those without their own private plunge pool, there is an adults-only pool and a children’s pool to keep everyone happy.
From having your ceremony on the waterfront of Whitsundays Mirage, you can stroll along the boardwalk to Lure for your reception. The nautical themed space is so adorned in wood and stone can’t help but feel like you’re in Packer’s super-yacht, sailing across the mediterranean. There’s enough space for up to 200 guests but Lure’s clever design means you can keep it intimate also.
Wedding + Honeymoon:
So now that you’ve gathered your crew for one of the most picturesque weddings where else could you possibly honeymoon? Our suggestion: combine your wedding and honeymoon on the Whitsundays. Unless you’re a local, you’ve likely already paid your flights there so stick around for another week or two longer. Unless you’re looking for a winter snow honeymoon, no other tropical holiday could beat it, plus there’s accommodation options for every budget.
For those on the luxe list, Hayman Island will be re-opening under the management of InterContinental group in mid 2019 (gives you time to save your dollars). Alternatively you’ll find excellent options on Hamilton and Long Island for honeymooners.
Our Top Tips:
And while you’re there, here are some activities we strongly suggest you and your guests do:
- Take a day trip with Red Cat Adventures to enjoy snorkeling, diving with fish and Whitehaven beach bumming. We did the Thundercat 1 Day adventure and had the damn time of our lives.
- Have dinner at Clipper Restaurant & Bar at Coral Sea Resort. Excellent contemporary Australian with recent Chef of the Year and Apprentice of the Year awards under the belt. Order their kingfish ceviche: it’s drool-worthy stuff.
- Enjoy a sunset cruise with Sundowner Cruises or check out the sister vessel Lady Enid for a luxe sailing option (also would make a terrific small reception).
- Get to Whitehaven Beach for some beach champagne (tastes better than land champagne). It’s rated 5th best beach in the world for good reason. We honestly can’t imagine what number 1 could look like after this.
Need To Know:
Getting to the Whitsundays is a cinch with flights flying into Proserpine Airport (PPP) from most capital cities. Twenty-five minutes from Proserpine will see you at Airlie Beach where you can catch a boat to the four resort islands. Alternatively you can fly into Great Barrier Reef Airport (HTI) on Hamilton Island.
Ready to check out some amazing WedShed Whitsundays wedding venues? Head here.
Need to some help bringing it all together? We recommend having a chat with The Wedding Planners Whitsundays.