Frequently Asked Questions – Whitehaven and Hill Inlet Tours
Q. What is the difference between the Northern Exposure tour and the Southern Lights tour?
The main difference between the two tours is that the Northern Exposure tour has more snorkelling time and the Southern Lights tour offers more beach time. We also offer a Double Deal for both cruises allowing you to experience more adventure for less! Both offer the ultimate in Hill Inlet tours.
*Please note: the tour itinerary is a guideline only and is subject to change depending on tide, wind and other weather conditions.
Q. Is Ocean Rafting suitable for all ages?
Our boats are suitable for most ages from 6 months upwards (weather permitting). If you are concerned about the weather conditions for the date that you are travelling, or wish to speak to one of our friendly office team about young passengers travelling, please call us on (07) 4946 6848.
Q. What if I have a medical condition?
Tours are not suitable for guests with pre-existing back, neck or hip injuries or who are pregnant.
Q. Will I get sea sick?
Due to the open-style design and speed which our vessels travel, it is very rare for Ocean Rafters to experience sea sickness on board, unlike slower vessels where you experience a slow-rocking motion that can cause sea sickness. The most common time for passengers to ever feel nauseous on the water would be when the vessel has stopped. We welcome anyone that is prone or worried about seasickness to take any necessary medication prior to travelling.
Q. How long will I spend on the boat?
The longest part of the journey is just over an hour, which is the ride out to the Whitsunday Islands and the return journey back to the mainland. Between the other stops the journey will be anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes, depending on where the skipper chooses next, given conditions on the day.
Q. How fast do the boats travel?
Ocean Rafting’s custom built vessels travel up to speeds of 35 knots (65 km/hour) allowing you to experience a fun, high speed ride whilst exploring the islands and beaches of the beautiful Whitsundays.
Q. How long do you spend snorkelling on each tour?
The Northern Exposure tour visits two snorkelling locations around Hook Island, each for approximately 45 minutes. The Southern Lights tour visits just one snorkelling location around either Border Island or Dumbell Island for approximately 1 hour.
*Please note: the tour itinerary is a guideline only and is subject to change depending on tide, wind and other weather conditions. The sites that you will snorkel at are carefully selected by our highly trained skippers to ensure that you have the most memorable underwater experience possible for the conditions of the day.
Q. Is snorkelling equipment included?
Masks, snorkels and fins are included. We do offer prescription masks available for hire for the day for $15. We also offer equipment for the little Rafters.
Q. Do I need to wear a stinger suit or wet suit?
Certain times of the year in the Whitsundays are stinger season (usually between late October – April/May). At this time of the year we do highly recommend hiring a stinger suit. These will cover around 90% of your body, fins will cover majority of your feet and your mask will cover some of your face, leaving less than 5% of your body exposed. Wet suits are available for hire during the winter months, which simply provide you with an extra layer of warmth whilst snorkelling. The hiring of stinger suits and wetsuits can be arranged upon check in.
Q. What if I am not a confident swimmer?
If you are not a confident swimmer, please make sure that you tell the office team when you check in as well as the crew on board the vessel as they will assist you if you wish to snorkel. We also offer life jackets and pool noodles on board for extra buoyancy.
Q. Can I snorkel if I wear glasses?
We have a range of prescription masks available for hire for $15.
Q. How long do you spend at Whitehaven Beach on each tour?
The Northern Exposure tour spends between 1 – 1.5 hours at the northern end of Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet. The Southern Lights tour spends between 2 – 2.5 hours at the southern end of Whitehaven Beach.
*These timings may change, subject to weather conditions.
Q. Do you visit Hill Inlet for both tours?
Yes, both visit Hill Inlet Lookout, offering the ultimate in Hill Inlet tours.
Q. What should I bring and what footwear should I wear?
Bring along a small bag with things that you would usually take to the beach i.e. a towel, swimmers, sunscreen and a hat. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for the Hill Inlet tours and walk to the lookout. A jacket during the winter period is recommended to protect you from the wind and warmth after snorkelling. Cash for any drinks or snacks on board is recommended and if you haven’t chosen to purchase the buffet lunch, please ensure that you bring your own, as we do not visit any resorts or shops during the day.
Q. Do you pick up from mainland accommodation?
Ocean Rafting offers a courtesy pick up from most mainland hotels and hostels. Upon making a reservation, if your accommodation is not listed, we will advise of the nearest pick up point.
Q. Is the pick up included in the price?
Yes, we offer a courtesy pick up for all Ocean Rafting Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet tours.
Q. Do you pick up from any of the resort islands?
Ocean Rafting departs from Airlie Beach, and we also offer a pick up from Daydream Island Resort. Unfortunately we do not pick up from any other island resorts for our Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet tours.
Q. What time can I check in?
Check in for the Northern Exposure tour starts from 7:45am. We advise any guests that are making their own way to our office for check in to arrive between 8am – 8:15am. Check in for the Southern Lights tour starts from 9am. We advise any guests that are making their own way to our office for check in to arrive between 9am – 9:15am.
Q. Where is the check in office located?
The Ocean Rafting office is located at the Northern Village of Coral Sea Marina, Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach, next to Sorrento Restaurant. If you are still unsure of our location, please check with your accommodation reception or call us on (07) 4946 6848.
Q. Is there parking available at the Marina?
There is a car park at both the northern and southern end of Coral Sea Marina (our office is located at the Northern Village). The car parks are between $6 – $14 to park for the day.
Q. Are there bathrooms on board?
Four out of seven of our Ocean Rafting vessels have toilets on board. These are not to be used whilst the boat is in motion. There are toilets at Coral Sea Marina, at the Hill Inlet Lookout (both Ocean Rafting Hill Inlet tours visit this site) and at the southern end of Whitehaven Beach (only accessible from the Southern Lights tour).
Q. What is included in the buffet lunch?
The cold tropical buffet lunch is an optional extra which can be pre-ordered for $16 per person. The lunch consists of a selection of different salads such as green salad, potato salad, pasta salad etc, a selection of cold meats, a seafood salad, sliced chicken breast, bread rolls and a selection of fruit.
* Lunch menu subject to change.
Q. Do you cater for dietary requirements or allergies?
Yes, we cater for most dietary requirements and allergies. We do however need to be informed of any of special requirements at least the day prior to departure to ensure that a substitute can be provided or catered for.
Q. Can I bring my own lunch, if I do not purchase the lunch?
Yes, we like to offer our guests the option! Please ensure that any lunch that you do bring is kept in a small concealed bag. We may also be able to store this in our cool drinks esky for you.
Q. Can I purchase drinks on board?
Yes, we have a range of cold beverages that you may purchase on board. Please bring cash along on the day to pay for these. Alternatively, you will be able to pay by card at the end of the day.
Q. Can I bring my own drinks?
Ocean Rafting has a no BYO alcohol policy. However you are able to bring along soft drinks and bottled water for your day.
Q. Are there any shops on Whitehaven Beach?
Whitsunday Island is a National Park, so there are no shops or buildings on the island (other than the toilet amenities).
Q. Is there any shade on Whitehaven Beach?
At certain times of the day there is very little/minimal shade coverage at Whitehaven Beach. Therefore, we strongly recommend frequent application of sun block to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
Q. Can I bring my camera or phone to take pictures?
Ocean Rafters do frequently bring along cameras or phones for the day. Although we do have dry boxes under the seats designed to keep your belongings safe, all electrical and personal belongings are brought at your own risk and is no responsibility of Ocean Rafting if these items are lost or damaged during the day.
Q. Do you take photos on the day and how much are they?
Our staff will be using Go-Pros to take photos throughout your day on Ocean Rafting’s snorkelling, Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet tours. A link to preview these photos will be emailed to the address that you provided upon check in 72 hours after travel. These photos will then be available to purchase online. For one photo it is $6, or for 10 or more photos it is $3 per photo.
* If you do not wish to have your photos taken during your day for any reason, please just let our staff know prior to departure.
Q. Do you rent Go-Pro’s or underwater cameras for the day?
No, Ocean Rafting does not rent Go-Pro’s or cameras.