Kayaking Australia’s Whitsunday Islands
Although South Molle is smaller than both Hook and Whitsunday, the island offers more than 10km of walking tracks. The 4.2km trail from Sandy Bay to the lookout at Spion Kop passes through thick grassland and rolling hills, and is one of the island’s longest hikes. Close to Spion Kop, a stone quarry spills across the track where you can search through the stones to find the remnants of flint spearheads and knife-blades made by the Ngaro people thousands of years ago. If supplies are running low, Adventure Island Resort, tucked into a bay in the island’s northeast, has cold beers and creamy cocktails.
A final 5km paddle back to Shute Harbour on the mainland brings the journey to an end.
Salty Dog Sea Kayaking at Shute Harbour offers kayak hire and guided tours. You can begin and end the paddling trip from Shute Harbour, or book transport with Scamper, the landing craft, to or from any island campsite.
Basic campsites, only accessible by boat, are well spaced around the islands. Sandy coves, swaying palms and tropical sunsets welcome paddlers and sailors, though sites are limited and camping permits are required. The Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing has information on camping sites and walking tracks in the Whitsunday Islands National Park, as well as maps of the Ngaro Sea Trail.
From July to October, the weather is perfect for kayaking, with calm water, little rain, mild temperatures and no deadly marine stingers (such as the box jellyfish and the irukandji). The turquoise ocean hides a stunning underwater garden, and snorkelling the fringing reef around the islands is on a par with snorkelling the outer reef.
After a week as an island drifter, the Whitsundays mainland hub of Airlie Beach, 10km northwest from Shute Harbour, has all the food, drink and entertainment to satisfy a castaway’s dream.